It was Manny's birthday on Friday, and he was sitting on 499 home runs, so the poet in all of us was hoping that would be the night he finally hit that magic number. But it was not to be, and Manny continues to slump in the home run department. Maybe he's just waiting to get back home. I'm sure the Fenway Faithful would love to see him hit #500 over the Green Monster.
The Sox got the scoring started early, getting two off of Daniel Cabrera in the first, and it looked like things would go well for the offense. But those two would be all Boston would get until the thirteenth inning. Luckily for them, Beckett pitched a great game, despite giving up two runs (one in the second, and one on a solo shot from Aubrey Huff in the fourth) after being handed an early lead. Beckett struck out ten in his six innings of work, gave up four hits, and walked three. All three of those walks came in his only real trouble inning, the sixth. He struck out Markakis and Huff to start the inning, then walked Millar, Scott and Hernandez before striking out Adam Jones.
The real heroes of the night might be the guys in the Boston bullpen. Okajima, Delcarmen, Lopez, Hansen, Timlin and Papelbon pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits, walking four and striking out seven. Timlin, as his is m.o. this season, ran into some trouble in his one inning of work, but he managed to shut down the Orioles, which gave the Sox the chance to take the lead in the thirteenth. Papelbon pitched a perfect bottom of the inning, striking out two, for his fifteenth save on the season.
The runs in the top of the thirteenth were pretty much gift-wrapped for the Sox by the Orioles' defense. With one out, Ramirez hit a ground ball that Melvin Mora threw away, allowing Manny to advance to second. Lowell came up and singled to left, and the Sox led 3-2. Youkilis reached on an infield single, and after another reliever was brought in for the Orioles, Lowell and Youkilis executed a double steal (strange but true). Varitek struck out, but Crisp got to first on another error from the Orioles, this time from the shortstop, Freddy Bynum. Lowell and Youkilis both scored. 5-3, Sox.
Excellent job overall from the pitching staff, and a timely single from Lowell to push in the winning run. Let's hope the offense can actually get things going on Saturday night. Lester is on the mound, and I'd sure like to see him log some innings, since the bullpen was used quite a bit on Friday. Let's go for at least seven, okay Lester?
Player of the Game: the bullpen. 7 IP, 4 H, 4 BB (three intentional), 7 Ks, 0 ER
Record: 33-24 (one game behind TB, who the Sox will face when they return home to Fenway)