For Starters ... Derek Lowe pitched a season-high eight innings last night and although the road got a little bumpy at the end, Boston fairly cruised to a 5-3 win. It was their fourth straight victory, 10th in the last 11 games, 13th in the last 16 and 16th in the last 20. I'm enjoying this team.
Lowe allowed a run and four hits in the first two innings, throwing 40 pitches. After that, he was sterling, throwing only 34 pitches over the next four innings and retiring 10 men in a row. It was the first time this season Lowe had three consecutive 1-2-3 innings.
Lowe says his confidence is "as high as it's been since I've been a Red Sox. I really believe every single time that I go out there that I'm going to win." ... Boston's starters have been credited with 58 of the team's 74 wins, a total exceeded only by St. Louis (62). In their last 17 games, Red Sox starters are 12-3 with a 3.44 ERA. In August, they are 16-6, 3.88. Lowe: I think this is the type of streak this city has been waiting for us to go on. I think this is the type of team everybody expected to see coming out of spring training."
As Bob Hohler wrote in the Globe: "One of the marvels of the recent stretch of success for the Red Sox has been their ability to overcome a seemingly unrelenting wave of losses to key players." In the fourth, Manny Ramirez fouled a 1-2 pitch off his left knee. He looked like he couldn't put much weight on the leg, but he finished the at-bat -- driving the ball hard to left (!) and then left the game. Ramirez suffered a contusion; x-rays were negative.
In the 3rd, Manny reached on an error, went to third on Jason Varitek's double and scored when Tiger catcher Brandon Inge couldn't handle an easy throw from shortstop on Kevin Millar's grounder. Ramirez, who would have been dead if Inge had caught the ball, tried to shove the catcher out of the way, then just went around him while Inge went looking for the ball.
Bill Mueller sat out Friday's game with a bruised right ankle/foot, so Mark Bellhorn moved over to third. Ricky Gutierrez started at second base and singled in his first three at-bats, driving in Boston's last two runs. ... An MRI taken on Doug Mientkiewicz's shoulder showed no structural damage, but he will likely miss the next two games. ... David McCarty will be in Boston this weekend, but will probably not be activated until rosters expand on Wednesday (good discussion of who may or may not be brought up).
Terry Francona couldn't use Keith Foulke, who had some back stiffness in his back. So in the 9th, he began with Timlin, who quickly surrendered a double and a single before striking out Craig Monroe. Alan Embree came on to whiff pinch-hitter Marcus Thames and Curtis Leskanic retired Inge on a fly to right.
I didn't see it, but apparently Ivan Rodriguez was in the on-deck circle, set to bat for Nook Logan if Inge kept the inning (and the game) going. Now if Rodriguez was hurt and simply could not play, fine, but if Tigers manager Alan Trammell was going to have him bat, why not do it for Eric Munson or Inge (the catcher) earlier in the inning? Truly a moron (non-)move.
Pawtucket split a double header with Scranton last night. Byung-Hyun Kim started one game, pitching five innings of one-hit ball, walking one and striking out six. Pedro Astacio started the other game, giving up eight hits and three runs (two earned) in 4.1 innings. He had 3 strikeouts and no walks. ... The Globe reported that Astacio pitched the first game and Kim went in the nightcap, while the Herald had Kim in first game and Astacio in the second. ?!?