April 30, 2004

All Smiles. Byung-Hyun Kim: "First time out, I felt good. As the number of pitches I am going to get [increases] and the number of starts [increases], I am confident I will get better." The only hit Kim allowed in his 5 innings was an absolute scorcher by Tino Martinez that ended up costing the Rays an out and a baserunner when it grazed Jose Cruz's back, who was running from first to second.

Mirabelli caught Kim: "I hadn't seen him in Florida, so I was a little nervous about it. But as soon as I saw him throw his first fastball -- he kind of threw a get-me-over fastball first to make sure his feet were all right -- but his next pitch was 'foooom,' right where he wanted it to be. ... It was crisp. His problem is throwing strikes sometimes. He gets a lot of swings at balls, but when he's at a point when he needs a strike, it's always kind of been, 'I hope I can throw a strike.' Today it was, 'I can throw a strike whenever I want to throw a strike.' "

The Red Sox -- now 15-6 -- have won six in a row and nine of 10. Their scoreless inning streak ended when Derek Lowe allowed a first inning run in the night game. The longer shutout streaks in team history are:

39 innings -- September 8-12, 1919
34 innings -- June 20-24, 1916
33 innings -- August 24-27, 1990

The bullpen's shutout streak is still alive -- 32.1 innings. It's the longest streak in MLB since the St. Louis bullpen went 34 innings in 2002. ... Also the bullpen has an 0.24 ERA in the last 13 games (1 ER, 37 IP).

Lowe was not sharp in the second game. Carl Crawford banged his first pitch off the Wall for a double; then Lowe made an error on Julio Lugo's bunt. Three pitches and Tampa had runners at 1st and 3rd. A Rocco Baldelli groundout scored one run and Robert Fick's double made it 2-0. Lowe allowed another run in the 5th when Crawford doubled and Lugo tripled. But with no one out in the inning, Lowe got out of trouble with the score 7-3.

Boston answered Tampa with 7 runs in the bottom of the first, in an inning that began to feel like the 14-run explosion against the Marlins last year. Johnny Damon walked, Bill Mueller singled, David Ortiz singled, Damian Moss threw a wild pitch, Manny Ramirez singled, Jason Varitek hit a 3-run home run and David McCarty singled. Mark Bellhorn struck out looking, but Gabe Kapler doubled and Pokey Reese singled in two runs. Damon and Mueller made the final two outs.

With two outs in the bottom of the 3rd, Kapler bunted for a hit. I didn't hear it, but apparently one of the Tampa Bay announcer (Joe Magrane) began whining about how Kapler shouldn't have bunted with such a big lead (7-3 in the 3rd inning). He was pretty much calling (hoping?) for Tampa to bean Kapler in his next at-bat. Since Lou Pinella isn't a colossal idiot like Magrane, nothing happened. Now if Hal McRae was still managing, who knows? ... Lowe didn't have great stuff -- to that point, he had allowed one walk, 2 singles and 2 doubles, as well as a line drive that was headed for the right field corner before Kapler speared it in midair. Did Magrane think the Devil Rays couldn't score four runs over six innings?

Nomar Garciaparra spent 15-20 minutes fielding ground balls between games of the doubleheader. He also sprinted in the outfield. While his Achilles tendinitis is improving, it will likely be June before he returns. ... David Ortiz hit a 3-0 pitch to dead center in the afternoon game, but managed only a single in the nightcap, ending his strike of games with an extra-base hit at nine. ... Johnny Damon grounded into his first double play in 71 at-bats. ... Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram noted that in each of the last four seasons, the Red Sox have been 14-6 after 20 games.

Friday: Bronson Arroyo/Ryan Drese
Saturday: Pedro Martinez/Joaquin Benoit
Sunday: Tim Wakefield/R.A. Dickey

All three games start at 8:05 pm.

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