About Schmidt. He's good. Very good. 9 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts, 133 pitches. An ERA down to 2.26. (box). ... Kevin Youkilis doubled to start the 6th for Boston's only hit.
The bottom of the 7th was the difference. Arroyo began the inning by getting Durham to ground out to first. He had thrown 113 pitches; his previous highs this year were 112 and 100. Embree and Timlin were up in the pen. (Francona was playing with fire in having Arroyo start the inning at all; I expected him to have a very short hook).
Tucker got ahead in the count 3-1 and doubled to right. With the game still scoreless, Francona could have brought in Timlin to face the RH Grissom (although that probably would have been his only batter, since Embree would likely face Bonds, but Williamson and Foulke were still available). He let Arroyo continue. The Grissom AB: foul, ball, ball, foul, ball, ball.
Embree came in to face Bonds, who popped a 0-1 pitch to short left. Youkilis went out and Millar came in. The ball (which was absolutely catchable, probably by Millar) dropped between them. Millar picked up the ball and fired to third, hoping to force Tucker. He did -- Tucker was clearly out -- but the umpire called him safe. Francona argued and was ejected. Timlin came in to face Alfonzo, who hammered a 1-1 pitch to deep left for a grand slam.
Timlin is prone to allowing a gopher ball now and then, so I'm not sure why Francona didn't have either Williamson or Foulke warming up and ready for that spot. This was clearly the most important part of the game and Boston should have had its best pitchers ready. ... Instead, after the Giants had a 4-0 lead, Timlin got the final two Giants and DiNardo struck out the side in the 8th.
Millar was 5-for-6 with 2 walks against Schmidt coming into this game and it appears that was the only reason he started instead of Manny (1-for-4 against the Giants ace). Francona has surely heard of the phrase "small sample size" and Millar hasn't been hitting consistently since last July. With a day off today, Manny could have pinch-hit for Arroyo in the 6th (after Yook's double) and the pen could have pitched the last 4 innings. Arroyo had thrown 97 pitches through 5 innings and allowed only 2 hits. ... The 6th inning ended with Millar on deck and had the Sox not gone 1-2-3, Ramirez may have batted for him. Even if he didn't, Tito could have double-switched and gone to the pen and put Ramirez in left. He probably could have played better defense.
The good news? The Yankees lost to the Dodgers, so the Red Sox remain 4.5 game behind. Both clubs are off today.