Kevin Youkilis and Company do some spring cleaning and sweep Rays north of the border


Kevin Youkilis and Company do some spring cleaning and sweep Rays north of the border

(May 4, 2008) – After being swept at Tropicana Field last weekend, the Red Sox returned the favor with a sweep of the Rays behind left hander Jon Lester. The Sox southpaw out-dueled Rays southpaw Scott Kazmir for just his second win – and first since his 5-0 victory in Oakland on April 2 – of the season.

The Sox got out to the early lead in the bottom of the first when lead-off hitter and left fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury reached on ground ball up the middle and would move up to second on a walk by Dustin Pedroia. Ellsbury would swipe third on his tenth stolen base of the season while Pedroia went to second with his fourth. Replacing David Ortiz in the third spot of the order, Kevin Youkilis drove in the Sox’s version of the Greek God Nike with the first run of the game.

The Rays lefthander showed glimpses of his Red Sox dominance in his first start of the season but they were not enough. In the third inning, the Sox got to the young Rays ace again when Manny Ramirez doubled off the wall in left field to drive in Pedroia and Youkilis with the second and third runs of the game. Crisp would add the fourth Sox run off of Kazmir on a ground out to third by Pedroia. The Sox center fielder reached base on a single to center and then steal his fifth base of the season off of catcher Shawn Riggans. Riggans throw to get the stealing Crisp would be off line and bounce into center field allowing the Sox center fielder to take third.

Kazmir would exit the game after throwing 90 pitches, 55 for strikes, in four innings allowing four runs on six hits while striking out five Sox batters. The Tampa Bay bullpen would keep the game 4-0 and allow the Rays to get back in the game. And they would start to do just that. In the top of the sixth inning when Northeastern grad Carlos Pena hit his first homerun since April 12 – seventh on the season – to right field off Lester.

The following inning, Manny Delcarmen relieved Lester who completed six innings allowing one run on four hits while striking out five Ray batters. After getting the first batter of the inning to ground out to third, Jason Bartlett singled into left field and would come around to score on a triple to the Triangle off the bat of second base man Akinori Iwamura. The speedy left fielder Carl Crawford would drive in Iwamura with Tampa Bay’s third run of the game. But that was as close as the Rays would get.

Youkilis would add and insurance run in the bottom of the seventh with his third homerun of the season to center field off Rays reliever Dan Wheeler. The Greek God of Walks would add two more insurance runs the following inning with a double off the wall in left to drive in Lugo and Ellsbury. But before Youkilis’s two RBI double, Ellsbury pilfered second for his second stolen base of the game and eleventh of the season on the Sox’s second double steal of the game. (Lugo stole third for his fourth of season.)

Just when the weather starts to turn out good for baseball in Boston, the Red Sox will jettison out on a 10 game road trip beginning with a four game series in Detroit. It will be the Sox first and only visit of 2008 to the Motor City, where it has been noted to be one of least safe biggest cities in the country. At least it is no East St. Louis. From Detroit, they will travel west a time zone for another four game series with the Twins in Minneapolis and then fly to Baltimore County for a two game series with the Orioles.

The last time these two teams met Detroit was searching for their first win of the season and riding a five game losing streak, April 8-10. The Tigers salvaged one game of the series win the middle game while the Sox provided the bread to the Tigers peanut butter and jelly in the middle. Although the Sox are 1,001-942 against the Tigers overall, the boys in red are 62 games below .500 in Motown but are 19-15 in Comerica Park since it was opened April 11, 2000.

The Sox will send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the hill for the seventh time this season to face Detroit right hander Jeremy Bonderman. Matsuzaka is coming of a no decision against the Toronto Blue Jays where he pitched seven innings allowing zero runs on two hits while walking just two and striking out four. Last time out against the Tigers on April 8, Matsuzaka recorded his second win of the season with a 6.2 inning shut out, allowing just four hits and four walks while striking out seven on Opening Day at Fenway.

Bonderman is making his seventh start of season in search of his third win for the Tigers. The Detroit righty is 2-2 on the season with one of those wins coming against the Red Sox on April 9, where he pitched 5 innings allowing one earned run on five hits in the Tigers first victory of the season. Bonderman is coming off a 6-2 win against the Yankees where he went 7.2 innings allowing two runs on five hits whiling only striking out one.

WIN: Jon Lester (2-2)

LOSS: Scott Kazmir (0-1)

SAVE: Jonathan Papelbon (9)


Game Notes:

Brandon Moss was taken to Mass General yesterday for an emergency appendectomy. Manager Terry Francona said the team was not worried too much about Moss but they wanted to be safe rather than sorry. Moss left the clubhouse 30 minutes before the start of last night’s game and under went surgery during the game. According to team sources he is now “resting comfortably.” Although I do believe the word “comfortably” is all relative, you do not usually feel all that well after major surgery. Francona told the media that Moss will go home for about 10 days and then begin his rehab in Fort Myers. So look for Moss to be thrown on the Disabled List in the next few days.

Jacoby Ellsbury was not initially in the starting line up but started in left field in replace of Manny Ramirez who replaced David Ortiz as the designated hitter. Ortiz was a last minute scratch to the line up due to soreness in that surgically repaired knee of his. But on the brighter side, B.J. Upton is back in the line up for the Rays.

Jonny Gomes was robbed of a double off the wall in left. The ball hit the yellow stripe on the wall but third base umpire Bill Welke called the ball foul.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in relief of Hideki Okajima to face pinch hitter Dioner Navarro in the bottom of the eight. Papelbon would retire the final four batters of the game to earn his ninth save of the year.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Kevin Youkilis, BOSTON ---- 3-4 2 Doubles, Homerun, 4RBIs
  1. Manny Ramirez, BOSTON --- 1-4 Double, 2 RBIs
  1. Coco Crisp, BOSTON --- 2-3, SB, Run scored

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