Six games into the month of June and a challenging schedule, the Boston Red Sox are taking care of business. With Thursday night’s dramatic come-from behind win against the Texas Rangers, Boston won its second series of the month to improve to 37-24 and maintain its one-and-a-half game lead over the Yankees in a tight A.L. East race.
Riding the electric theatrics of David Ortiz’s walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth Thursday night, the Red Sox roll out the Fenway welcome mat for a three-game weekend set against the visiting L.A. Angels, who come to town with a dismal 26-34 mark, buried 10-and-a-half games behind Texas in the A.L. West.
The weekend pitching match ups would seem to favor the Red Sox. Felix Doubront looks for his fifth win against two losses when he faces Tommy Hanson (2-2, ERA. 4.19) in Friday night’s first game. Saturday, undefeated Clay Buchholz will be looking to push his record to 9-0 against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson, currently 4-4 on the year with a road ERA of 4.84. Two guys who have pitched better than their records indicate finish off the series Sunday when Boston’s Ryan Dempster (3-6 ERA 4.39) faces Joe Blanton at 1-9 with a 5.53 ERA.
After blowing the Rangers out 17-5 then losing 3-2, Boston trailed Texas for seven innings Thursday night and squandered numerous scoring opportunities before Ortiz put the nail in the Ranger’s coffin in dramatic fashion. Starter Jon Lester was shaky early on, giving up a pair of home runs and trailing 3-0 before Boston got back into the game when Dustin Pedroia doubled in a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Jacoby Ellsbury, returning to the Boston line up after a five game absence due to a groin strain, tied the game in the bottom of the 7th when he scored on a fielder’s choice. Pinch hitter Jonny Gomes earned a walk to lead off the Boston ninth. Texas manager Ron Washington chose to issue a rare intentional walk to Pedroia in order to have lefty reliever Kirkman face left-handed DH Ortiz. Big Papi made the Rangers pay by crushing Kirkman’s first pitch on a soaring home run to right center for the 11th walk off home run of his career and Ortiz was mobbed by his rowdy teammates at home plate, putting an exclamation point on Boston’s 6-3 come-from-behind win.
Boston left a total of 10 men stranded but finally cashed in during the final frame. In returning to the top of Boston’s batting order, Ellsbury looked like a man trying to make up for lost time, collecting two singles, a pair of doubles and scoring two runs to push his season’s batting average to .280. Stephen Drew got the night off at shortstop, allowing Jose Iglesias to return to his normal position after filling in at third in the absence of Will Middlebrooks. Iglesias maintained his discerning eye at the plate, drawing three walks and collecting a single to push his average to .435. Gomes also had a hot night at the plate, collecting four hits in five at bats to finally get his average above the .200 mark at .202. Utility man Pedro Ciriaco did little to help his long-term prospects with remaining on the roster given the recent play by Iglesias and the impending return of Middlebrooks by going hitless in three at bats with a pair of strike outs.
The Red Sox got encouraging news on the medical front. In the first of three rehab games at Pawtucket, right fielder Shane Victorino went 2-for-four with a run scored and a home run for the PawSox. He is expected to play in two more rehab games before being activated. Middlebrooks is also expected to be ready to return to the parent club following the weekend series against the Angels, which will force Boston to make at least two position player roster moves in the near future.
Following the weekend series with the Angels, the Red Sox hit the road for a seven game swing that starts in Toronto for three and ends in Baltimore for four games.
In the first round of Major League Baseball’s Amateur Draft Thursday night, the Red Sox selected left-handed pitcher/outfielder Trey Ball with the 7th overall pick. Ball is a 6-6, 180-pounder out of New Castle High in Indiana, who has been clocked with a 94 mph fastball. He is leaning towards attending college at the University of Texas.
- Ellsbury Returns To Red Sox Lineup (boston.cbslocal.com)
- Ortiz Gets Even, Red Sox Win Series (titletownsportsnetwork.com)