August 24, 2004

Pitches Of Lilly. There were 126 of them last night and only a handful missed their mark. Ted Lilly threw a masterful 3-hitter and struck out a career-high 13 as Boston lost to Toronto 3-0. Lilly had pinpoint control and a sweeping 12-to-6 curve that fooled everyone all night long. In the sixth, when he struck out both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, it was plain to see that as long as Lilly stayed in the game, the Red Sox weren't gettin' nothing. Put this game beside the gems thrown this year by Jason Schmidt and Johan Santana and look forward to Wakefield tonight.

In the top of the first, Orlando Cabrera hit a line shot off the left center wall for a double and took third on Ramirez's long fly to right center. But he was stranded there and Boston would get only one more runner as far as second base (Mark Bellhorn, whose triple in the 5th hit the very top of the right centerfield wall and bounced back onto the field). ... After Lilly struck out Ortiz to end the first, he struck out the side in the 2nd and he struck out the first two batters in the 3rd -- six consecutive punchouts (a new team record). It was going to be a long night.

On the other side of the field, Pedro Martinez's final line looked pretty good nice - 7 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts -- but he was not sharp in the first three innings, when Toronto scored all of its runs. Reed Johnson hit Martinez's second pitch for a home run. Orlando Hudson followed with a triple and scored on Vernon Wells's sac fly. Pedro walked two batters in the 2nd, but escaped further trouble. In the third, he walked Hudson and surrendered singles to Carlos Delgado and Eric Hinske. That made the score 3-0, which seemed surmountable, but was actually 2 more runs than Lilly needed.

After Hinske's single, no Blue Jay batter reached base, but it was too late. ... Pedro retired the next 14 batters (only 3 of them hit the ball out of the infield). Curtis Leskanic and Alan Embree retired the side in order in the 8th. ... Because Doug Mirabelli had such good numbers against Lilly (5-for-9 with 3 home runs; now he's 5-for-13), Jason Varitek began his suspension last night. Varitek will return to action on Friday night.

The Yankees won 6-4 in Cleveland, so Boston slipped back to 6.5 in the East. Anaheim beat Kansas City 9-4, Minnesota topped Texas 7-4, and Oakland edged Baltimore 4-3. In the wild card race, the Red Sox are tied (actually .001 ahead) with the Angels (who trail Oakland by .5 games in the West); Texas is one game behind the Red Sox.

This was pointed out during the NESN broadcast last night:

2003 after 122 games: 70-52, 4 GB NYY, 1 game ahead in WC
2004 after 122 games: 70-52, 5.5 GB NYY, 1 game ahead in WC

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