Nixon popped a 1-1 pitch to left, too shallow for Bill Mueller to score on. Manny struck out on three pitches. Ortiz fell behind 1-2 and tapped a routine grounder to second. The Red Sox (now 13-12) left a total of 14 men on base.
Jeremi Gonzalez pitched well, leaving after five innings with the score till tied. Francona thought the sixth was too early for the better arms in the pen, so he summoned Blaine Neal, who hadn't worked in a week. Neal walked Craig Monroe on four pitches, then gave up a home run to Carlos Pena. Marcus Thmas singled, and after a sacrifice bunt, Neal's night was through. Thanks for playing, shithead. ... Lenny DiNardo might have been a better option (he did make a cameo in the ninth).
Matt Mantei struck out three in 1.2 innings, before Alan Embree brought his gas can to the hill in the eighth. Embree faced six batters, allowing a single, two doubles (to Detroit's 8-9 hitters) and a home run (Pena again), and three runs. And then Embree was pulled -- for another lefty (DiNardo)!
Three runs from Boston -- all in the third inning -- was a pretty pathetic showing for 11 hits (including five doubles and a triple) and five walks. The Tigers retired the Sox in order only once (in the first). Boston got a runner to second base in six of the nine innings. ... Millar went 2-for-4, but he really needs to be moved down in the order. Even switching him and Varitek in the 5-6 spots would help.
With the Red Sox set to face two lefties -- Mike Maroth tonight and Nate Robertson Wednesday -- Trot Nixon is considering dropping his appeal and serving his two-game suspension. ... Mark Bellhorn may be back tonight.
To make room for Gonzalez, David McCarty was designated for assignment. John Olerud may be ready to join the Sox in two weeks. Until then, Youkilis can play some first if necessary. ... Wade Miller makes what everyone hopes is his final rehab start tonight for Pawtucket. He's in line to start Sunday at Fenway.
Sully at The House That Dewey Built has a good analysis of April:
The Red Sox are 13-11 and four games out of first place. They have scored 136 runs and yielded 109. If you were to extrapolate those totals over the course of the year and apply the Pythagorean Formula, the Red Sox would end up as a 99-win team. That's remarkable to me. ... At the same time, I don't want to just gloss over the legitimate and numerous causes for concern. ... [J]ust trying to be the measured guy in a town full of too hot and too cold whackos.John Halama starts tonight, with a pitch limit of about 80 (the most pitches he's thrown this season in relief is 34). "It's going to be new. I've never been stretched out this year. I hope I can go five innings." Oh boy. That sounds encouraging. Game time is 7:00.