Justin Masterson’s first Major League victory gives Sox their fifth win in a row


Justin Masterson’s first Major League victory gives Sox their fifth win in a row

(May 20, 2008) – It did not matter if it was a young 23-year-old rookie or a 41-year-old veteran whoever followed Jon Lester’s dazzling no-hit performance last night was going have a tough time. A no-hitter is just one of those things that the next pitcher in the rotation looks at and says “Geez I have to follow this? Why me?” But the young Justin Masterson, who was called up earlier today, pitched followed Lester’s no-hitter with a brilliant performance of his own.

Making only his second start of the year, Masterson pitched 6.1 innings allowing just one run on three hits while striking out five before turning the reigns over to the bullpen – which was really scary. The last time the young Born-Again was up in the big league, on April 24, the Sox bullpen blew a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh and any hopes of giving the young pitcher his first Major League win. But Masterson would have another shot three weeks later with Clay Buchholz on the disabled list tonight.

Although he did not receive much run support, two runs were enough to earn his first career win. The runs were provided by one of the more unlikely sparks of the line up: Julio Lugo. In the bottom of the second inning, Kevin Youkilis lined a one-out single up the middle and into center field. Right fielder J.D. Drew followed the first baseman’s base hit with one of his own to center as well. Having control issues, Royals starter Gil Meche walked catcher Jason Varitek to the load the bases and bring Lugo to the plate with just one out.

Lugo has notoriously been known for his lack of hitting during his time in Boston – and even dating back to the 2006 post-All-Star break when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays. But tonight the shortstop came through to drive in Boston’s first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to right scoring Youkilis and sending Drew to third. Center fielder and lead off hitter Coco Crisp drove in Drew with a double to right that would bounce over the fence forcing Varitek to hold at third base. But those were the only runs the Sox would need in the game.

When Masterson turned the reigns over to Javier Lopez in the middle of the top of the seventh, all Red Sox fans were collectively holding their breaths. They knew what happened to the young gun in April and did not want to see him get burned again. Lopez struck out first baseman Ross Gload for the second out of the inning before being yanked by Terry Francona in favor of the right handed Manny Delcarmen to face the right handed catcher John Buck.

Buck lined a single into center to drive in right fielder Mark Teahan who walked to lead off the inning and advance to second on a ground ball back to the mound by Billy Butler. Could it be happening again? Would the Sox bullpen blow another possible first win for Masterson? No. Delcarmen would strike out pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo, who pinch hit for shortstop Tony Pena, Jr. to end the inning.

Hideki Okajima would start the eighth inning but ran into trouble quickly allowing a lead off ground rule double down the right field line off the bat of center fielder David DeJesus. Okajima would get second baseman Mark Grudzielanek to ground back to the pitcher for the first out of the inning but allowed DeJesus to move up to third. The Sox left handed reliever would walk two of the next three batters with a strike out in between to load the bases before Francona opted for Jonathan Papelbon to record the last four outs of the game.

The Sox will return to Fenway for game three of the four game series against the Kansas City Royals. Bartolo Colon will make his first appearance of the 2008 season for the Red Sox. He is hoping to rebound from a dismal 2007 season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where he was 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA, 1.62 WHIP and just 76 strike outs. He will be opposed by Royals right hander Brett Tomko. Tomko is 2-4 on the season with a 5.32 ERA, 33 strike outs and a 1.42 WHIP. He is coming off his second win of the season against the Florida Marlins where he pitched six innings allowing two runs on five hits while walking just one and striking out four.

WIN: Justin Masterson (1-0)

LOSS: Gil Meche (3-6)

SAVE: Jonathan Papelbon (13)


The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Coco Crisp, BOSTON --- 1-4; Double, RBI
  1. Justin Masterson, BOSTON --- 6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K
  1. Alex Gordon, KANSAS CITY --- 3-3; 2 Doubles

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