J.D. Drew’s third homerun of the home stand to lead the Sox to the 2-1 series win


J.D. Drew’s third homerun of the home stand to lead the Sox to the 2-1 series win

(June 8, 2008) – Revenge is sweet – even sweeter on a day like yesterday. The 37,198 fans at Fenway Park, who stuck out the hot and humid June afternoon, were rewarded with the Red Sox 40th win of season after beating the Seattle Mariners 2-1. After the Mariners took two of three from the Red Sox back on May 26 through the 28 in Seattle, the Sox came back and took two of three to tie the season series at 3-3 this weekend back in the confines of Friendly Fenway.

On a day where the weather felt 10-degrees warmer than what the mercury read, Sox young gun Justin Masterson was as cool as the other side of the pillow. Although he ran into occasional trouble by falling behind some Mariner hitters, Masterson never looked flustered. In six innings of work, the Sox youngster allowed just one run on three hits while walking three and striking out four. During his brief stint in the majors substituting for Daisuke Matsuzaka, Masterson has proved he is ready for the bright spot light of Boston sports. Of course he will have to buy his time at the triple A level due to the overhaul of starters on the Red Sox roster that include excellent performances from Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz. But you heard it hear folks, come late-August Masterson will be a mainstay on the Sox pitching staff.

The lone Seattle run came in the top of the second when Masterson walked third baseman Adrian Beltre and right fielder Jeremy Reed to lead off the inning. First baseman Richie Sexson hit a scorching line drive into right field that was tracked down by right fielder J.D. Drew, on the edge of the warning track, for the first out of the inning. Although it was the first out of the inning, the deep fly out allowed Beltre to tag and advance 90 feet, to third. Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt hit a slow bouncer to counterpart Julio Lugo. Lugo played the play ball back and was only able to get the force out Reed, allowing Beltre to come in the back door, giving Seattle the brief 1-0 lead.

The Sox tied the game in the bottom of the third when Coco Crisp lined the first hit of the game for the Sox off Erik Bedard into right field. With the speedy Crisp on first to distract the left hander, Bedard walked Brandon Moss to bring lead off hitter Lugo to the dish with just one out. Lugo skied a 2-2 pitch to Ichiro Suzuki in center field, allowing Crisp to tag and move up to third. Dustin Pedroia was able to work the bases loaded two-out walk to send the hottest man on the Red Sox to plate: J.D. Drew. Drew would not be at the plate for long. Right after following a 1-2 pitch, Bedard came up and in on the Sox right fielder and hit him on the right hand with a rising fastball to force in Boston’s first run of the game. It was not exactly the way Drew wanted to pick up his 31st RBI but whatever works. Manny Ramirez ended up striking out on a 3-2 check swing with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Right now if you are an opposing pitcher getting ready to face the Red Sox, you are scared to death of the current number three hitter. He is just on fire right now – very similar to the Celtics offense in the last three minutes of the third quarter last night. Drew would drive in all of the Sox two runs in the game. After getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the third, Drew would add his eighth homerun of the season as he hit a rocket shot to the front row of the covered seats in center against reliever Sean Green. (John McLaren how sick are you feeling now? Bringing in a right hander to face the left handed Drew especially when Bedard had only allowed one run on two hits while striking out five.) The homerun was Drew’s third round-tripper on the current home-stand and fourth in eight games. Sorry Big Papi, but I do not think Drew is going to want to give up that number three spot in the line up when you return.

Not only is Drew getting things down on offense, the guy is locked in, in the field. He has always fielded his position well and has a strong throwing arm but most of the time his defense gets overlooked due to his offense. In years past, Red Sox fans have been privileged to watch one of the original Dirt Dogs, Trot Nixon, who was always diving all over right field for fly balls. That is why Sox fans liked him because of his grittiness and willing to get dirty. When Drew replaced him in right – as well as taking the number seven – it was tough sight for Sox fans to see. The did not see a guy diving all over the field for fly balls so it looked as if he wasn’t as good as Nixon but the truth is Drew is better.

He does not have to dive because he can get to more balls than Nixon could. Drew makes some of the catches Nixon would have had to dive for, look easy. He runs almost effortlessly toward the ball and catches it just as easy. Drew has much more than athleticism than Nixon ever did, so when it looks as if Drew is not trying hard as Nixon did, it is because he does not have to. (Guys like Nixon and Kevin Youkilis, have to work harder than others to make up for their lack of athleticism.)

After day off Monday, the Sox will send Josh Beckett to the mound on Tuesday night to face Daniel Cabrera and the Baltimore Orioles in a re-match of May 30 in Baltimore. Beckett is 6-4 on the season with a 4.07 ERA, 80 strike outs, 14 walks and a 1.10 WHIP. He is coming of a six inning win against the Tampa Bay Rays last Thursday where he allowing just one run on six hits while walking no one and striking out five. He has faced Baltimore twice this year, both in Maryland, and has been un-Beckett like. In 2008 Beckett is 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA, 15 strike outs, five walks and a 1.79 WHIP. Oriole batters are 15-for-50 (.300) against the Sox ace this year in 11.2 innings.

Cabrera is also making his third appearance against the Red Sox this year. In his first two starts against Boston this year, the Oriole right hander is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA, five strike outs, two walks and a 1.79 WHIP. Sox batters are hitting at a .302 clip against Cabrera in 14 innings of work. The 6’9” pitcher is coming off a 7-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis. In the loss, Cabrera went six innings allowing six runs on eight hits while walking none and striking out three. On the season, Cabrera is 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA, 47 strike outs, 32 walks and a 1.28 WHIP.

WIN: Justin Mastertson (3-0)

LOSS: Sean Green (1-2)

SAVE: Jonathan Papelbon (18)


Game Notes:

Boston College Men’s Head Basketball Coach Al Skinner was at Sunday’s matinee game with the Seattle Mariners.

Manny Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the sixth inning.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. J.D. Drew, BOSTON ---- 1-3 HR, 2 RBIs
  1. Justin Masterson, BOSTON ---- 6IP, 3H, 1ER, 3BB, 4K
  1. Erik Bedard, SEATTLE -----5IP, 2H, 1ER, 3BB, 5K

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