Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Crawford's Walk Off Double Gives Sox Third Straight Win

                                                                                            Sports Illustrated

Red Sox 2 Twins 1 F/11
Winning Pitcher: Hideki Okajima (1-0)
Losing Pitcher: Jim Hoey (0-1)

Carl Crawford had a horrible first month of the 2011 season, but his May has been much better. He now has a hit in each game in May thus far, although it took until the 11th inning for his first hit on Monday, although it was a walk off double that gave the Red Sox three out of four in its series with the Twins. Josh Beckett started for the Red Sox and continued his dominant pitching, but couldn't receive the run support or bullpen help to pickup the win. The game was still scoreless in the 5th when Varitek led the bottom half of the inning with a double. After two consecutive ground outs, Adrian Gonzalez came through with the RBI base hit, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Beckett continued to cruise through his outing, ending up pitching 7 shutout innings, allowing 6 hits, a walk and striking out 5. The Red Sox brought in Alfredo Aceves into a 1-0 game after Beckett's 103 pitch outing. Aceves allowed Denard Span to get on with an infield hit, then balked to allow him to reach second base. After getting one more out, Jonathan Papelbon was brought in for the four-out save. However, Jason Kubel, Pap's first batter, hit a bloop single into center and the game was tied at one, and Papelbon had the blown save. After each team went 1-2-3 in the 9th, we were headed to extras. Okajima pitched both extra innings for the Red Sox, pitching two scoreless innings, giving up two hits and two walks, while striking out three. In the bottom of the inning, with one out Jed Lowrie drew a walk, and was pinch run for by Jose Iglesias, a prospect just brought up to replace the injured Marco Scutaro. Carl Crawford, the very next batter, then ripped one off the Green Monster, allowing Iglesias to score all the way from first, and giving the Red Sox their 17th win of 2011, one away from .500.

News and Notes
  • Carl Crawford has been swinging the bat way better in May than in April. He came into the month of May hitting just .135, but in just nine games has moved that total up to .211. It may still seem like a shitty batting average (because it is) but it is the sign of marked improvement by a struggling star. Crawford now has a nine game hitting streak going on. Speaking of hitting streaks, lead off man Jacoby Ellsbury has extended his to 18 games, the longest of his career since 2009. Ellsbury's streak, the longest active streak in the bigs, was extended on a single in the 3rd.

  • I imagine this won't be discussed as much because the Sox won the game, but I wish Francona had led Beckett pitch one more inning on Monday night. He had only thrown 103 pitches in those seven innings, and was pitching lights out. They typically don't like pitchers to go very far over 100 pitches, but Beckett looked like he was good enough to keep going. If he had struggled in the 8th, they clearly wouldn't have had a problem with bringing in Papelbon for a multi-inning save.

The Red Sox hit the road on Tuesday, playing in Toronto at 7:07 PM ET. The Red Sox will send their ace, Jon Lester (4-1 2.33), to the mound against he Jays young hurler Kyle Drabek (2-2 4.50).   

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