Red Sox - 100 100 010 - 3 8 1Smoltz (5.2-9-6-0-5, 96) was impressive through five innings, but allowed three home runs and five runs in the sixth. It was too deep a hole for the Boston bats.
Rangers - 000 105 00x - 6 10 0
Smoltz was at 75 pitches entering the sixth. He allowed a solo shot to Michael Young (who also singled and doubled off Smoltz) to tie the game at 2-2. Josh Hamilton doubled and after Andruw Jones struck out, Hank Blalock lined an RBI single to right. 3-2. Marlon Byrd struck out, but David Murphy golfed a two-run dong to right. 5-2.
Still, Terry Francona stayed with Smoltz. Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed Murphy's homer with a first-pitch blast of his own, to deep center. 6-2. Why Tito left Smoltz in to face Salty is a mystery. He's a 42-year-old guy in only his fifth major league start since coming off major shoulder surgery. And he was at 95 pitches. Manny Delcarmen had been warming up since Hamilton's double. Why such a long leash?
With two outs in the first, Kevin Youkilis singled to left and David Ortiz doubled to deep center. The Sox took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Jason Varitek's double scored J.D. Drew. Mike Lowell tried to score from first and was a dead duck at the plate.
After Texas took a 6-2 lead, the only excitment came in the eighth. With one out, Jacoby Ellsbury singled, and with two outs, he stole second (the 41st SB of the year and the 100th of his career) and scored on Yook's single. C.J. Wilson came out of the pen to face Ortiz -- and got Flo on one pitch, a shattered bat foul pop to catcher.
The Yankees beat the Orioles 2-1 on Shemp's walk-off dong. Boston and New York are tied once again -- at 55-37 -- atop the AL East, with 70 games to go.
John Smoltz (5.40, 89 ERA+) / Kevin Millwood (3.46, 128 ERA+)
Both Sean McAdam and Amalie Benjamin write about the poor performance the Red Sox have received from the leadoff spot this season.
McAdam says the Sox #1 hitters have a .309 on-base percentage, while Benjamin has it at .307. ESPN has it at .306. (WTF?) Whatever it is, it's bad.
ESPN's rankings have Boston next-to-last (13th) in the American League -- only Oakland at .298 is worse -- and 27th overall among the 30 major league teams (the Phillies (.285) and Cubs (.277) are also worse, but they also have pitchers batting a few times most nights).
Benjamin also notes that the Red Sox leadoff OBP is
tied with the ninth spot for worst in the lineup. In fact, the Sox also have a significantly worse slugging percentage out of the top spot than the ninth, giving the on-base plus slugging nod to the No. 9 spot.The slugging is .353 at leadoff and .398 at the bottom of the order.
From the leadoff spot:
Nick Green is hitting .115 (6-for-52) over his last 18 games. ... Jason Varitek played his 1,400th game in a Red Sox uniform yesterday, moving into 9th place on the club's all-time list. ... Dustin Pedroia has a career-best 10-game hitting streak. ... Jacoby Ellsbury's next stolen base will be the 100th of his career.GMS AVG OBP SLG
Ellsbury 49 .288 .320 .356
Drew 14 .190 .299 .414
Pedroia 24 .214 .264 .301
Lugo 3 .462 .500 .615
Baldelli 1 .000 .250 .000
Van Every* 1 .000 .000 .000
(*: did not start)