Nothing like a visit to the Trop to cure what ails you. Especially if what ails you is not being able to win baseball games. As they’ve done all season, the Red Sox looked to Josh Beckett to stop the bleeding, and for the 20th time this season, Beckett delivered. Even without his best control, he was able to grind out six innings against a pesky Devil Rays offense and put the Sox in position for a “W.”
It took a while for the Sox to shake off the rust of their four losses. They were content early to accept the gifts of Scott Kazmir (4 walks, two hit batters and a wild pitch) and Dioner Navarro (2 throwing errors) to scratch out three runs over the first three innings. But the bats woke up – the Tampa bullpen is like a freakin‘ alarm clock to sleeping lumber – with Tek going deep in the eighth and Papi and Lowell going back-to-back in the ninth.
Despite a shaky Beckett and the early run, the Rays were no match once Mr. Cy Young got rolling. Josh became baseball’s first 20-game winner since 2005, and all but locked up the Cy Young award. The Devil Rays as a team strike out almost as much as me and Chuck “Weasel” Dolan at a Malden CYO dance back in the day, managed just three singles and a double all night – all off Beckett. Manny Delcarmen and Javier Lopez pitched perfect seventh and eighth innings. Once the Sox broke it open in the ninth with a four-spot to make it 8-1, Tito called for the leg irons and straight-jacket to be removed from Eric Gagne to let him pitch. With no pressure, he pitched a perfect ninth.
Julio Lugo gets the Brain Dead Play of the Night award for popping up the first pitch of the fourth inning – after Kazmir walked two, hit two and threw a wild pitch in the third. JD Drew finally made an impact…by staying on the bench. Ortiz, who was supposed to have the night off to rest his gimpy knee, asked in and came up with three hits including his 32nd bomb. Jacoby Ellsbury added a couple of hits, giving him at least one hit in 17 of 18 games since the call-up. Manny Ramirez did not have his short-order-cook head gear on.
For a little more late-night good news, after putting up four of their own in the ninth to tie the game against Toronto, the Yankees coughed it up in the 14th inning on a Greg Zaun home-run.