May 5, 2004

Out Of Order. One day after saying that it was too early to make any type of lineup change -- three or four games not being much of a representative sample -- Terry Francona decided to move Bill Mueller from the #2 spot in the batting order to #8. (Mark Bellhorn batted second.) ... Tito: "Billy beats himself up so much, he's so conscientious. Maybe this will put him in a position where he can relax a little bit."

Mueller: "After the first inning you hit at all different times anyway. A number doesn't matter to me." ... Although Mueller had more ABs in both the 2nd and 7th spots last season, Mueller was most effective in the eight spot. In 120 at-bats, he hit .400/.500/.792 (with 10 of his 19 HRs). ... Mueller went 2-4 last night; Bellhorn walked and singled in five trips.

Derek Lowe had an ugly 1st inning (4 hits to the first 5 batters, 2 runs scored) and he couldn't stem the tide of baseruners in the fourth when Mueller committed two throwing errors. As they did against Curt Schilling, the Cleveland batters were aggressive. Lowe faced 10 batters in the fourth, but threw only 22 pitches. All but one of the hitters saw 3 pitches or fewer; the one who didn't walked on 4 straight balls.

Cleveland led 7-1 after four innings. Manny Ramirez's 6th home run of the season gave Boston one more run, but the Red Sox didn't do much of anything until the final inning. Facing Kaz Tadano, Brian Daubach doubled and Dave McCarty walked. After Mueller grounded out, pinch-hitter Gabe Kapler singled in one run and Johnny Damon belted a first-pitch 3-run homer to cut the lead to 7-6. Scott Stewart came out of the pen and gave up a single to Bellhorn. Ortiz then grounded to first, which should have been a game-ending 3-6-1 double play, but Stewart forgot to cover the bag. Rafael Betancourt was called on to face Ramirez -- and he struck him out swinging on four pitches to end the rally and the game.

The four-run rally was nice, even though it fell short, but it would be even nicer if the Red Sox stopped waiting until the very last inning before deciding to score some runs. ... Lenny DiNardo pitched two hitless innings in relief of Lowe, not allowing the ball to be hit out of the infield. ... Papa Jack was interviewed by NESN and he noted that despite the offensive slump, the hitters were still having good at-bats and not striking out too much. WTF? What games has he been watching? The Red Sox are absolutely striking out. They are 3rd in the AL with 191 Ks, only 5 fewer than Toronto, and Cleveland's Rick White whiffed Daubach, Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar and Bellhorn in succession Monday night. And they are having horrific at-bats. Manny has been lunging at outside stuff that he almost never hacks at and Millar is onc again trying to pull everything short of a throw to first. Too many others seem resigned to grounding out.

Three Sides Of Pedro. Michael Silverman says Pedro deserves some slack. ... Mike Fine writes a load of crap. ... Gordon Edes looks at the insurance costs as an important part of the negotiations.

Etc.: Millar was on the bench last night after fouling a ball off his left foot on Monday, but he's expected to go 0-4, err, be back in the lineup tonight. ... Bellhorn walked for the AL-best 27th time last night, putting him on pace to break Ted Williams's team record of 162. ... Darrell Johnson, who managed Boston to the 1975 pennant, died Monday of leukemia at age 75. ... Damon praises Varitek as the unofficial Red Sox captain and adds that he likes to watch Manny pimp his long home runs. Ramirez's solo blast leading off the 6th inning was a 459-foot rocket to left field. ... Yome Damon (Johnny's mom): "He was so cute when he was young. Now he's not so cute."

Jose Contreras put the Yankees in a 7-1 hole last night against Oakland, but New York rallied and won 10-8. The Red Sox and Yankees are both 15-11 and tied for first place in the East. ... Byung-Hyun Kim will restore order tonight, facing Jeff D'Amico at 7:05 pm.

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