Yuniesky Betancourt’s solo homerun in the third was all the M’s needed to send the Sox back east


Yuniesky Betancourt’s solo homerun in the third was all the M’s needed to send the Sox back east

(May 28, 2008) – It was a staring contest between Boston and Seattle. The first team to blink would end up with another digit added to the right side of the standings. The Sox blinked first and head back east after winning just one game on their six game trip to the left coast, after a 1-0 loss at the hands of Erik Bedard and the Seattle Mariners. (Special editor’s note: That would make a wonderful tee-shirt idea: “The Sox went west and all I got was Seattle’s Best.’”)

Upset about being pinch-hit for in the bottom of the ninth inning by Jeremy Reed, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt put the Mariners on top with a one-out solo homerun in the third. The Seattle shortstop took the 1-1 high, knuckler for a ride and deposited it into the Red Sox bullpen in left. It was Betancourt’s third homerun and 19th run batted in of the season.

The rubber game of was a pitcher’s duel between Seattle’s Southpaw, Erik Bedard and Boston’s knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield. Besides the one mistake to Betancourt, Wakefield’s knuckleball fluttered all over the strike zone, baffling Seattle batters for seven innings. It was evident that his knuckleball was working when he struck out the side in the Mariner’s half of the second. The Sox 41-year-old starter allowed scattered base hits but never gave the Mariners the opportunity to piece anything to together after Betancourt’s homerun. Wakefield would throw his 30th complete game of his career allowing jut one run on five hits while striking out eight Mariners and walking none.

With Wakefield doing his part to make sure the Sox walked away with a series win, Bedard was doing everything in his power not to let that happen. Bedard matched Wakefield’s magnificent performance with an extraordinary performance of his own, even mirroring Wakefield’s second inning with three strike outs in the fifth. At one point during the game, the Mariners starter retired eight consecutive Sox hitters before walking Mike Lowell in the top of the seventh inning. His night would be over after getting Coco Crisp to fly out to left to end the inning.

After pitching seven strong innings of two-hit ball with eight strike outs while walking just three batters, Bedard turned the game over to Brandon Morrow. Morrow was the reliever who entered Tuesday night’s game with runners on first and second and nobody out, to strike out Manny Ramirez and Lowell back-to-back before getting J.D. Drew to fly out to left. Last night, Morrow fast a little trouble after walking the pinch-hitting Drew to lead off the inning. Shortstop Julio Lugo attempted to sacrifice Drew to second with a bunt but first baseman Miguel Cairo sniffed out that one and threw Drew out at second. The Seattle reliever would get rookie outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to second before striking out Dustin Pedroia for the final out of the inning.

The Red Sox departed Seattle after the game for the “Land O’ Crabs” to face the Baltimore Orioles for a four game series beginning on Friday night. Josh Beckett will get the start for the Sox and will be opposed by the Orioles tall, lanky right hander, Daniel Cabrera. These two teams last met in a two-game series on May 13 and 14 where Baltimore walked away with their first two-game sweep in Baltimore since April 25-26 of 2005.

Beckett has not been too pleased with the start of his 2008 season. He started the season on the disabled list with a back and hip injury and since coming off the disabled list, the Sox ace is 5-4 with a 4.43 ERA, 65 strike outs and a 1.08 WHIP. Not the kind of start the 2007 ALCS MVP wanted to have. Beckett is coming of a 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics last Saturday where he pitched seven innings allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out nine.

Against the Orioles this year, Beckett’s outing was nothing to write home about. The last time he was on the Camden Yards mound, the Red Sox starter went 5.2 innings allowing five earned runs on 11 hits while walking two and striking out five. Oriole batters are hitting at a .707 clip against Beckett this year.

The normally short-fused Baltimore right hander, Cabrera is a surprising 5-1 on the season with a 3.70 ERA, 42 strike outs and a 1.29 WHIP. He is coming of a no-decision against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 25 where he went 5.2 innings allowing four runs on nine hits while walking six and striking out one. The Orioles would go on to lose the game to the first place Rays, 5-4. Against the Sox this year, Cabrera is 1-0 with a 6-3 victory on May 14 where he went seven innings allowing two runs on 10 hits while striking out three and walking no opposing batters. Although his line score looks good, Sox batters are hitting a nice .387 against him this year. Can’t you smell the sweet smell of revenge (it smells like chicken) with that statistic plus the fact that Baltimore has fallen down the AL East standings very quickly?

WIN: Erik Bedard (4-3)

LOSS: Tim Wakefield (3-4)

SAVE: J.J. Putz (6)


Game Notes:

Jacoby Ellsbury “stole” his 20th stolen base of the season. There are parentheses around stole because Bedard had a picked him off at first but first baseman Miguel Cairo threw wildly into left field allowing Ellsbury to reach second base safely. If Cairo made a good through Ellsbury would have been a dead duck.

Ichiro Suzuki reached base in the bottom of the eighth on fielder’s choice to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Ichiro stole his 23rd bag of the season to put him in a tie with Houston’s Michael Bourn for most stolen bases in MLB.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Erik Bedard, SEATTLE --- 7IP, 2H, 0ER, 3BB, 8K
  1. Yuniesky Betancourt, SEATTLE --- 2-3 Homerun, RBI
  1. Tim Wakefield, BOSTON --- 8IP, 5H, 1ER, 0BB, 8K

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