Dustin Pedroia’s three RBIs push Sox back into first place in the AL East


Dustin Pedroia’s three RBIs push Sox back into first place in the AL East

(May 2, 2008) – A two and a half hour rain delay did not delay the bats of the Red Sox or rookie pitcher Clay Buchholz. Following a complete game in his last outing against the Rays, the young gun failed to complete the sixth inning but still earned his second win of the season. In 5.1 innings, Buchholz allowed just one run on five hits while striking out six Tampa Bay hitters.

The Sox offense on the other hand scored more runs in tonight’s game than they did in their last five games combined and it all started with the number nine hitter Julio Lugo. In the second inning with one-out, Lugo lined a doubled past the outstretched left fielder Carl Crawford and came around to score on Dustin Pedroia’s two-out double two batters later. After getting Manny Ramirez to strike out, following a David Ortiz walk, to end the inning, it appeared as if Rays starter Edwin Jackson was settling down.

Although the start of the bottom of the fourth seemed to be going Jackson’s way, the Rays right hander ran into the Red Sox rookies. With two outs, Brandon Moss started the five run inning with his second homerun of his major league career to straight-away center over the head of Gabe Gross, who was replacing starting center fielder, B.J. Upton, who was out with a shoulder injury. Three batters later fellow rookie, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left driving in catcher Jason Varitek from second base. Ellsbury would swipe his ninth stolen base of the season off of Rays catcher Dioner Navarro. The sophomore, Pedroia, followed with base hit of his own into left to drive in Ellsbury and Lugo.

Jackson’s night was done after four innings allowing six runs on nine hits while walking three and striking out just three. He was replaced by Kurt Birkins who came on to finish out the fifth inning after Jackson allowed a double to Mike Lowell and walked Kevin Youkilis. Birkins struck out Moss and got Varitek to do what he does best, yes ground into an inning ending double play.

But the Red Sox captain would redeem himself three innings later. After a lead off singled by Moss in the eighth, Varitek drove in the rookie with a double of his own. Unfortunately, David Ortiz grounded into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded.

Although his line score says differently, Buchholz’s seventh outing of the season was not as smooth as his sixth but he was able to “minimize the damage.” Three times in the 5.1 innings he pitched, the 23-year-old allowed the lead off hitter to reach base (second, third and sixth). His best inning came in the third when he gave up a base hit to Akinori Iwamura and walked Crawford but struck out the next three Rays batters to end the inning.

Josh Beckett will take the mound in game two of the three game weekend series with Tampa Bay in what will be a re-match of last weekend’s final game, where the Rays won the game 3-0. If you recall, the Red Sox Ace pitched seven complete innings allowing two runs – one earned – on four hits while striking out a career single-game high, 13 Rays batters. Against Tampa Bay, Beckett started six games, earning a decision in all games he is 3-3 against the Rays with a 3.72 ERA with 51 strike outs in 38.2 innings.

He will be opposed by the right-handed James Shields who has filled the void of Tampa Bay Ace quite nicely with his 3-1 record, 2.54 ERA and 28 strike outs. Against Boston, in his last time out he threw his first complete game of his career allowing just two hits while striking out seven Sox batters. Against Boston in his career, Shields is 1-2 with a 3.26ERA and 31 strike outs in 30.1 innings.

WIN: Clay Buchholz (2-2)

LOSS: Edwin Jackson (2-3)


Game Notes:

B.J. Upton is out of tonight’s line up for the Rays due to a left shoulder strain. The injury occurred in Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday and forced him to exit the game in the middle of the fifth inning. This injury is not new to Upton, he suffered a similar injury on August 17, 2006. Upton gave Rays fans (yes there are Rays fans) optimism saying “this is the best its felt right after, so we shouldn’t think much of it.” Knowing this manager Joe Maddon does not expect his starting center fielder to miss the remainder of the series against the Sox.

Brandon Moss makes his third consecutive start in right field for the injured J.D. Drew. Drew is still being bothered by tightness in his left quadriceps. But Jacoby Ellsbury’s groin injury is apparently feeling better or maybe he just saw Coco Crisp playing halfway decent and thought “oh my god I have to get back in the line or I’m going to lose the job.”

The start of the game was delayed two and a half hours because of rain.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Dustin Pedroia, BOSTON --- 3-5 Double, 3 RBIs
  1. Brandon Moss, BOSTON --- 2-4 Homerun, RBI, Two-runs scored
  1. Carl Crawford, TAMPA BAY --- 2-4 Double, RBI

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