June 2, 2004

Francona's Slow Hook. Once again, Terry Francona's use of his pitching staff made no sense -- and led to a loss in Anaheim. ... Bronson Arroyo was not sharp on Tuesday night. He allowed 2 hits, a walk and a run in the first inning and he hit two batters in the 4th (it could have been three, but somehow a pitch went between David Eckstein's legs). Still, after four innings and despite leaving eight men on base, Boston had a 4-3 lead. And a tenative Bartolo Colon had thrown 109 pitches in 4 innings.

Arroyo began the bottom of the sixth at 83 pitches. Casey Kotchman singled to left-center and was sacrificed to second. Arroyo plunked Adam Kennedy for the second time. Eckstein hit a first-pitch single to left to tie the game at 4-4. Pitching coach Dave Wallace came out to talk and Alan Embree began warming up (Anastacio Martinez was the first man up -- why? -- during Kennedy's at-bat). Chone Figgins flew out to center field after a 10-pitch battle for the second out (pushing Arroyo's pitch count to 104). I would have liked to see Embree face Guererro, but (I guess) because Arroyo had gotten Vlad in his previous at-bats (a strikeout and two pop-ups), Tito left him in. ... Guererro ripped a 1-1 pitch to the wall in left center and Anaheim had a 6-4 lead.

Embree got into trouble in the 7th, hitting Kotchman and walking Jose Molina. Francona went to the pen -- for A-Mart, who surrendered a first-pitch double to Eckstein that brought home the 7th Anaheim run. Boston got a 2-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th from Brian Daubach to make the game appear closer than it was. ... Francona's tendency to leave his starter in a few batters too long (or until the lead has been lost) and his questionable choices out of the bullpen are becoming disturbing trends. Considering how well the team has played, this may be nit-picking, but it may also point to potential problems that could cost this team some games as the season goes on. (See The Soxaholix.)

Francisco Rodriguez has the flithiest stuff I've seen in a long time -- probably since Pedro in 1999-2000. His stats are insane: 45 strikeouts in 28 innings, only 19 hits allowed and an ERA of 0.64. ... He struck out Kevin Millar to end a rally in the 7th, then struck out the side in the 8th. Kevin Youkilis began that frame by singling to third and taking second on Figgins's throwing error. Pinch-hitter Andy Dominique was ridiculously overmatched on three pitches (it was painful to watch and seemed cruel of Francona to send him up in that spot), Damon looked at three straight strikes (clocked at 92, 93 and 94) and Bellhorn went down looking (after a vicious breaking pitch at 77 mph for strike two, Rodriguez finished him off with a fastball at 92). The hitters never had even a glimmer of a chance. It was like watching Mike Tyson beat up a six-year-old.

Gordon and Rivera allowed 4 runs in the top of the 9th, but the Yankees held on to beat the Orioles 8-7 and grab a one-game lead in the East. ... Pedro and Washburn tonight at 10 pm.

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