Royals - 000 015 120 - 9 13 3This game had it all.
Red Sox - 331 200 33x - 15 12 1
Smoltz was credited with his first win in a Red Sox uniform, Aaron Bates collected the first hit and RBI (and error) of his major league career, Kevin Youkilis -- the Sultan of Sweat -- hit two home runs, drove in four runs and scored four times, David Ortiz crushed a two-run dong to right-center, the bullpen frittered away a 9-1 lead with Justin Masterson imploding to the tune of five runs in only .1 inning, Daniel Bard (with the tying run at the plate in the seventh inning) sat down three straight Royals, the KC pen issued six walks (three of them intentional) in the seventh and eighth innings, and Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth in a sudden downpour to put the Red Sox 2 GA of the Yankees.
And Ryan Freel hit into a 9-2 fielder's choice, as his bases-loaded liner to right was scooped on a short hop by J.D. Drew, who fired a laser beam on the fly to Jason Varitek, who stretched out like a first baseman to take the throw.
Gil Meche (4.14, 104 ERA+) / John Smoltz (6.60, 70 ERA+)
Time for Smoltz to shine and bring the doomers back in from the ledge. Because it's nice inside ... we have a one-game lead, the second-best record in MLB and a fridge full of cold beer.
Despite some recent hiccups, the Red Sox bullpen still has the best ERA in the American League: 3.26. The Rays are second at 3.36, and only the Mariners, Twins and White Sox are also under 4.00.
You can't go the whole year and have every reliever have a 1.60 ERA. That's probably not realistic.John Farrell:
Their execution hasn't been as consistent as we've seen for most of the year ... but to say that something is drastically wrong or major adjustments are needed? No. ... We're not seeing anything drastic in terms of a delivery flaw or a bad habit with these guys or a physical issue that's starting to rear its head.Last night's win was the first time the Red Sox won a game with as few as three hits since September 5, 2006 (a 1-0 win over the White Sox).
Since a May 26 loss to Minnesota, Lester has a 1.48 ERA in eight starts, with 69 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.
Jacoby Ellsbury was surprised at his first major league ejection:
I thought it should have been a helmet violation or whatever they call it, an equipment violation. That's why they have that. It's $100, and everybody stays in the game, and they move on. ... I thought I got in there. I spiked my helmet in frustration. ... I didn't say anything to [the umpire].Two innings later, Ellsbury's replacement in center field, Rocco Baldelli, nailed Mark Teahen trying to tag and get to second base on a deep fly ball. Ellsbury could not have made a similar throw.
In five games since last Sunday, Dustin Pedroia is 11-for-21 with five doubles and two home runs. ... Mike Lowell took live batting practice on Friday. ... Since June 25, Daniel Bard has retired 19 consecutive batters.
In his first start since a bullpen demotion last month, San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez (9-0-0-0-11, 110) no-hit the Padres last night, 8-0 (the only base runner reached on an 8th-inning error). It was the first time Sanchez's father saw his son start a major league game -- "I was expecting him to get tired."
At 4 PM: Yankees/Angels (Joba blew a 5-1 lead last night and New York lost 10-6). Boston is 1 GA.