Tigers - 010 000 020 - 3 10 0 Red Sox - 010 100 101 - 4 8 1Boston has played 12 games at Fenway Park in the month of May, and won nine of them. Three of those nine victories have been courtesy of a walk-off hit from Carl Crawford.
Crawford did it again on Thursday, as he had done on May 1 and May 9, lining a single over the head of Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson, who was playing shallow because the Red Sox had the bases loaded with only one out.
Josh Beckett left after six innings (6-5-1-2-3, 83) with neck stiffness, and Boston led 3-1 after seven innings, thanks in part to solo home runs from J.D. Drew and David Ortiz. Daniel Bard began the eighth inning and things took a turn for the worse when Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera hit back-to-back home runs. Bard retired the next three batters, but the game was tied 3-3. (It was the second time in his career Bard had allowed two homers in one outing; the first instance was at Yankee Stadium, on August 9, 2009, when Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira went back-to-back.)
In the top of the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon got the first batter, making a quick play on a line drive that drilled him in the right thigh. Then Brandon Inge lined a single to left, Jackson singled to right-center, and Scott Sizemore walked, loading the bases. The next batters? Boesch and Cabrera.
Bot gave Boesch nothing but gas, getting three swinging strikes on fastballs at 96, 94, and 96. Cabrera gave him more of a battle, but Papelbon fanned him, too, on a 2-2 heater.
Facing Al Alburquerque in the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Youkilis worked an eight-pitch walk and Jose Iglesias pinch-ran. Ortiz singled to right-center (his third of the night) and Iggy raced to third. The Tigers intentionally walked Drew, loading the bases for Jed Lowrie, who fell behind 0-2, then stayed alive by fouling off five pitches before blooping the 10th pitch into short left field.
The outfielders were shallow and the Iglesias had to make sure the ball would not be caught. It fell in safely -- but Andy Dirks, who made his major league debut on Monday, grabbed the ball and fired it home, and forced Iglesias at the plate 7-2. The bases were still loaded, though, for Crawford, who looked at ball one, fouled off the second pitch, then sent everyone home happy with a single to center.
The Red Sox have won six in a row, are 9-2 since May 6, and trail the Rays by only 1.5 games in the East.
Justin Verlander/ Josh Beckett
Verlander followed up his May 7 no-hitter against the Blue Jays with eight innings of two-hit ball against the Royals last Friday. He has allowed only three hits to the last 68 batters he has faced (!) and has allowed no more than three earned runs in any of his nine starts this year (!!).
Beckett has pitched equally well, having allowed two or fewer runs in six of his eight starts. He has a current streak of 19 scoreless innings, and has not allowed a run since April 27.
Beckett leads the AL in ERA (1.75) and has the 4th lowest WHIP (0.896; Verlander is #5). Beckett also has allowed the fewest H/9 of any MLB pitcher (5.4; Verlander is #2).
AL East: Yankees/Orioles and Rays/Blue Jays at 7 PM.