This one did not go according to plan.
The Sox scored three quick runs in the first inning on four hits -- two infield singles and a couple of bloops -- and upped the lead to 4-0 in the third.
Oakland got one back in the fourth -- a Dan Johnson home run over the bullpens -- and another in the seventh -- leadoff Travis Buck double, then a Jason Kendall single and a Todd Walker sacrifice fly. 4-2 Sox.
Schilling left after seven (7-8-2-0-7, 101). Then it was Okajima in the 8th (grounder to second, strikeout, popup to third) and Papelbon in the 9th. But the Bot did not have it tonight -- decreased velocity and less than pinpoint control: Bobby Crosby (c) singled to left and Buck (cs) homered to right. 4-4.
Having blown the save and allowed his first runs of the season, Papelbon continued to struggle: Kendall popped to second, but Danny Putnam singled and Shannon Stewart walked (a nine-pitch AB). Mark Ellis fouled out to Jason Varitek and Eric Chavez grounded into a force play. Papelbon threw 35 picthes to seven batters.
Boston had the 7-8-9 hitters up in the bottom of the ninth. Varitek struck out, but Eric Hinske doubled. Alex Cora pinch-hit for Dustin Pedroia (0-for-3) and was intentionally walked. Julio Lugo grounded out to third, moving the runners to second and third. I'm thinking Coco Crisp can get walked or HBP, so David Ortiz can get a shot. But Coco grounded out to first.
Oakland 10th v. Brendan Donnelly: Mike Piazza and Johnson both doubled, giving Oakland the lead. Then Donnelly got two strikeouts and a fly out to left.
Boston 10th v. Houston Street: Ortiz (he was early on the first pitch and crushed a foul ball to deep right) popped to second, Manny Ramirez struck out swinging on a slider, and Kevin Youkilis flew out to the warning track in left (the NESN cameraman truped the hell out of me, making me think it had a shot at the Monster Seats).
So it's a loss -- and a shitty one at that -- but what can you do? We all had a sneaking suspicion that Snuffer was mortal. Coco looked good, making a nice diving catch in the seventh, singling, walking, stealing a base and scoring twice. Manny had two singles and had two line drive outs to right field. Ortiz also singled twice and whined about several strike calls (grow up, Flo!).
Anyway, we're 16-9. Earl Weaver used to say: "This ain't football. We do this every day." So we're right back on the diamond tomorrow evening.
J.D. Drew was a late scratch from the original lineup. The team says he's out with "viral symptoms". Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe saw Drew before batting practice and thought "he did seem a little flush". ... So Eric Hinske will play right and bat #8, Coco Crisp moves from #8 to #2, and Kevin Youkilis moves from #2 to #5.
Basement Watch: Phil Hughes gets his second start for the Yankees tonight in Texas. The Rangers counter with Kameron Loe.
Joe Blanton (3.55) / Curt Schilling (3.27), 7 PM
Contest Update (5 PM): The only available dates left for May and June are May 13 and June 12. ... All dates in July, August and September are available except for: July 4, July 12 and September 30.