May 14, 2003
By stifling the mighty Rangers over five innings and putting the Sox
on a glide path to a 7-1 victory before 32,485 at Fenway Park, Casey
Fossum improved to 4-1 with a 4.07 ERA. The Sox, who won for the
seventh time in the young lefthander's eight starts, crept within one
game of the Yankees, the closest they have come to the lead in the
American League East since they were a half-game back April 7.
set the tone on the mound, the Sox' offense, which entered the game with the
highest home batting average (.305) in the majors, continued to surge. Thanks to
Nomar Garciaparra's two-run homer in the first inning off Texas starter Joaquin
Benoit, the Sox seized the lead and never trailed as they improved their record
in the Fens to 13-4. Only the A's (16-5) have a higher winning percentage in the
league at home.
seemed like a rarity for Grady Little's Comeback Kids. David Ortiz helped lead
the minirout by singling home one of Boston's two runs in the fifth inning and
doubling home another to spark a three-run seventh. Shea Hillenbrand and Bill
Mueller also knocked in runs, while Texas reliever Esteban Yan aided Boston's
cause by surrendering another run on a wild pitch. Though Garciaparra and
Hillenbrand were expected to contribute regularly, the Sox also have been
bolstered by part-timers such as Ortiz, Mueller, and Doug Mirabelli, who has
caught five of Fossum's last six starts while the lefty has gone 3-0 with a 2.36
mustered only one run on four hits and a walk off Fossum, who has not lost since
April 9 in Toronto. Boston-loather Carl Everett knocked in the only Texas run by
singling in Michael Young in the fifth inning.
generally has given his starters a loose rein, replaced Fossum after the lefty
threw only 84 pitches through five innings. The manager said he planned to
replace Fossum quickly in the sixth if he ran into trouble, but after the Sox
rallied in the bottom of the fifth, idling Fossum longer than expected, Little
opted to go earlier than he expected to the pen. The move paid off as Sox
relievers continued their recent run of effectiveness. After Ramiro Mendoza
pitched two scoreless innings, he handed off to Mike Timlin, who shut down the
Rangers in the eighth before Robert Person made his Sox debut and finished
things off in the ninth. The scenario was tailor-made for Person, since Little
wanted him to make his first appearance without substantial pressure. In the
last nine games, the Sox' bullpen has allowed only four runs in 29 innings, for
a 1.24 ERA. Not too shabby, either.
also is swinging the bat pretty well. He swatted a 3-and-2 slider from Benoit
over the Green Monster for his team leading seventh homer as he extended his
hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors. He also
lined out to the warning track in center in the fifth and scored in the seventh
on Yan's wild pitch after drawing his first walk in 38 plate appearances. But
Garciaparra, who ranks among the league leaders in runs and hits, was not ready
to declare himself out of the woods after finishing the night with a .280
two-run homer in the first inning, Nomar Garciaparra extended his hitting streak
to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors and the longest this year
for the Sox. Kevin Millar hit in 14 straight games from March 31 to April 18.
For Garciaparra, it's his 20th career streak of at least 10 games. Garciaparra
is halfway to his career-best 30-game hitting streak, which ran from July
26-Aug. 29, 1997. Since the start of last season, 28 of his 31 homers have come
off righthanders, including all seven this year.
Damon, who stole second base and scored in the fifth inning, is 9 for 9 in steal
attempts this season, the only player in the American League with at least nine
steals who has not been caught. With his two scoreless innings, Ramiro Mendoza
has not allowed a run in 8 1/3 innings over his last four appearances.
game, Rafael Palmeiro gave the bat he used to hit his 500th career homer Sunday
to a representative of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Alex Rodriguez
received the inaugural Ted Williams Award from the Boston chapter of the
Baseball Writers Association of America. The award recognizes the game's best