What is it about playing the Red Sox that makes the ball “slip out of the hand” of so many pitchers? The other night in New York, it’s Joba Chamberlain trying to make a name for himself throwing at Youk’s head. Twice. Last night it’s the pituitary nightmare, Daniel Cabrera, whistling one by Pedroia’s ear. Right after he balked in a run. Benches and bullpens cleared but no punches were thrown. Cabrera was tossed, as was Kevin Cash, both teams were warned and the game went on.

The Red Sox have been far too tolerant of this. I’m still stunned that Youk didn’t charge the mound and slap that fake “what just happened” look off Joba’s mug. Last night, you can’t really blame five-foot-nothing Pedroia for not charging the 6’7″ Cabrera, but it’s time for the pitchers to make a statement. The Sox will have a comfortable lead in one of the next two games, and someone from Baltimore better be hitting the deck. Hard.

The game? Yeah, Sox win again. Jon Lester had his best performance of the season, going seven strong and holding the )’s to four hits and no runs. Javier and MDC finished things off, and the Sox get a half-game closer to the division title. Everyone but Lugo had a hit – yes, even JD. Jacoby Ellsbury continues his torrid pace – just one-for-five at the plate but also swiped his fourth base and made another spectacular catch, perhaps pushing Drew one step closer to the bench when Manny returns.

Tomorrow night it’s Dice-K versus the other Jon Leicester – the one that doesn’t know how to spell his last name. Let’s face it, we need to see a good outing from the Dice Man. He’s 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA in his last three starts and that just don’t cut the salami around here. This is the Orioles, and they just plain suck. And Dice-K needs to exploit their suckiness and expose them as the fourth-place fixtures that they are. It’s a tune-up.

Oh, and when it’s 8-1 Sox in the eighth, I expect a relief pitcher to drill Markakis or Tejada. And I expect Eric Hinske to start throwing haymakers like they’re Pez. And I’ll be sitting back with a big plate of corn dogs smiling and thinking about October baseball.