Thursday, July 20, 2006

Game 94: True Grit

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Texas Rangers 4

To Curt Schilling: he doesn’t always have his best stuff, but he brings the grit when necessary. Like today, when his pitches weren’t really fooling anyone in the first few innings and Texas kept scoring to keep themselves in the game or, horror of horrors, take the lead. Schilling buckled down, pulled out some extra gas and got enough behind his pitches to hold the volatile Texas offense to four runs. It wasn’t thrilling, shut ‘em down power like Beckett had yesterday (or Schilling had in his last start against Oakland), but it was enough.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox bats, aligned in an unconventional order with Papi on a day off and Mike Lowell sidelined by a stomach virus, batted Crisp on top, put Youkilis in the three hole, Pena at DH batting sixth and Alex Cora at third batting ninth and started scoring runs right from the first inning, creating a back and forth contest between the two clubs. With Schilling’s best stuff not at his command the two run lead Boston established in the first quickly disappeared and the Rangers led three to two for an inning – until a walk by Youkilis, single by Manny and two run double by Pena put Boston back on top.

Schilling flirted with disaster a bit in the fifth, putting two men on with two outs before getting Blaylock on a strike out. In the sixth, though, Schilling’s luck ran out: a two out double by Brad Wilkerson knocked in another run and tied up the game…for half an inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Boston scored the go-ahead run on small ball, working a single to Gonzalez, a sacrifice bunt by Cora and a single by Loretta to get their fifth run. Catcher Rod Barajas picked Loretta off second to end the inning, but Boston scored again in the seventh when Manny walked and Varitek shot a line drive past the dive of centerfielder Gary Matthews, Jr. Good stuff.

MDC, who continues to get things done in the set up role, pulled a scoreless eighth and Timlin finished things out in the ninth, picking up his second save and giving Papelbon some much-needed rest. This economy of pitchers was a pretty big contrast to the Rangers, who pulled their starter in the fourth inning and went through four relievers with varying success through the rest of the day.

Tomorrow night we start one of those hated West Coast trips where night games don’t start until 10:00 PM and you go to work the next with bleary eyes. Boston is on a nice little four game winning streak, the Yankees go up against Doc Halladay tonight and it’s time to start extending that AL East lead. GO SOX!!!