Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched five innings of two-hit ball last night at Fenway Park… unfortunately, he allowed three runs in those five innings—in large part because he walked SIX ChiSox batters—as the Red Sox lost their third straight game by the score of 4-2.
The pitching staff pitched well enough to win the game, but once again the offense failed to hold up its end of the bargain.
Nero fiddles while Rome is burning!
And as I said yesterday, the responsibility for the offensive failures falls more and more on the shoulders of manager Terry Francona—who is managing the team in such a way so as to exacerbate the struggles rather than resolve them. Just yesterday, I called for Tito to move Mike Lowell to fifth in the batting order to provide protection for Manny Ramirez. Kevin Youkilis (the current #5 hitter) went 0-for-4 last night and stranded 5 baserunners… he is now hitting .171 in July. I know Tito likes to “be faithful” to his players, but his sense of fair play is costing the team wins. Mike Lowell—batting sixth—went 2-for-4.
Youkilis ended both the first and seventh innings with two runners on base… and on both occasions Lowell started the next inning with a base hit. Although there are no guarantees that Lowell would have gotten a hit if he had come to bat with runners in scoring position, the odds that he would have delivered a clutch base hit seem to be better at this moment than the odds that Youkilis would do so…
After all, Lowell is hitting .361 in July compared to Youkilis’ .171.
And it’s not that I am advocating dropping Youkilis to ninth in the batting order… to the contrary, I think he should move him up to second in the batting order—where he prospered earlier in the year! I believe that batting him second in the order will cause him to go to right field… and if he stops trying to pull everything I believe he will re-capture his swing. In my opinion, he is trying too hard to be a #5 hitter—a power hitter—and that is NOT his game… he is a classic #2 hitter. SO PUT HIM BACK THERE!
The first four batters in the batting order went a combined 7-for-17, but the team managed to score only two runs—in large part because Youkilis killed two rallis that Lowell might have kept going. Wake up, Tito… the coffee is brewing.
The Red Sox got four more innings of solid relief last night from the bullpen… the only blemish being a Paul Konerko home run off Hideki Okajima—the first rin Okaji has allowed since the first pitch he threw this season. In four innings, the ‘pen gave up just the one run on four hits (no walks) while striking out five.
Chicago starter Javier Vazquez, who was on the ropes all night, got the win in spite of allowing 9 hits and 2 walks in just six innings. Matt Thornton, Ryan Bukvich and Bobby Jenks pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to close out the win for the Pale Hose. Jenks pitched a perfect ninth for his 26th save.
The Red Sox have lost three in a row and eight of their last eleven games.
Dustin Pedroia had three more hits last night and raised his batting average to .321… as the season is progressing, it is becoming apparent that voters will have to work very hard to find a reason to vote for anyone alse as AL Rookie of the Year.
White Sox catcher A J Pierzynski went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs in leading the Chicago offense.
White Sox center fielder Jerry Owens chased down a long fly ball off the bat of Manny Ramirez with two on and one out in the seventh inning. Owens caught the ball on the run in front of the 420-ft marker in center field—just one step to the left of the bullpen fence. Youkilis then struck out to end the inning.
Julio Lugo went 1-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to 9 games.