THE RAYS and A ONE WAY
TICKET TO "MANNY-WOOD" ...
Jason Bay and Jon Lester lead the Sox

August 18, 2008 ... It must have been somewhat odd to hear the ovation from the crowd of 40,429 at Camden Yards when Jason Bay smashed his second home run of the game. While Bay fist-bumped with Kevin Youkilis and the rest of the Red Sox crew in the third-base dugout, there was quite a show of appreciation from the fans.

Not all that surprising to the rest of them, of course. The Sox are used to this. And used to beating Baltimore (13 of their last 19 meetings), which they did last night behind another ace-like performance from Jon Lester. That, of course, is nearly a given these days. The burst of offense received last night from Jason Varitek is another story.

Needed, though, as the Sox try to turn their 6-3 win last night into a recurring theme against all of the American League East foes they'll face in the coming weeks (against whom they play 27 of their final 37). Because the Rays have shown, thus far, that they're not going away, and the White Sox and Twins are making an AL East wild card far from a given.

So while Varitek was coming up with a rare home run, it was Bay who was demonstrating what kind of offensive force he can be. With a two-run, eighth-inning shot over the short wall in left-center, Bay recorded the 12th multihomer game of his career, giving the Sox a three-run cushion at 4-1.

But that cushion didn't last all that long. Jonathan Papelbon allowed his first eighth-inning hit all season (in 11 at-bats), a double by Aubrey Huff that scored two runners inherited from Manny Delcarmen. David Ortiz took care of that with a run-scoring double in the ninth, sending Dustin Pedroia home, and coming home himself on a fielder's choice by Bay.

If the first home run by Bay wasn't quite expected, it wasn't surprising, either. Given Bay's hot streak to begin his Red Sox career it fit. It was the batter three spots later in the order who came up with the shocker.

Batting left-handed against Jeremy Guthrie, against whom he was 2 for 9 in his career, Varitek belted a home run that went 362 feet, over the video board and out-of-town scoreboard in right field. It had been a long time, after all, a long, long time. The captain had gone nearly three months since hitting a home run from the left side.

Mired in a two-month slump that dropped his average from .295 to .215, Varitek has hardly hit from the left side, leaving some to suggest that he stop switch hitting.

In 253 at-bats as a lefty this season, Varitek was batting .202 with a .328 slugging percentage coming into last night. As a righty, his natural side, he stood at .260 with .377 slugging. He has hit seven of his nine homers - including last night's - from the left side, though he hadn't hit one from either side since July 21 before he slammed the one off Guthrie.

But he got one, and sometimes that's enough. In a game in which the only scoring through six innings was on three solo home runs, the one from Varitek meant quite a bit.

Meanwhile, Lester's only blemish was a home run just over the wall in left-center by Huff, leaving the pitcher a narrow 2-1 lead with which to work. Even within those confines, though, the lefty dealt, allowing just singles in the second and third innings in addition to that homer through six innings. And, in doing that, Lester continued his streak of bullpen-saving performances.

With rest needed for a relief staff that had to finish Sunday's game after Josh Beckett went just 2 1/3 innings, Lester got through the seventh for the eighth consecutive start.

When the Orioles finally got a second baserunner to second, on a seventh-inning, one-out double by Kevin Millar, Lester got tougher. The pitcher turned in a curveball that had Luke Scott swinging, missing, and swearing, as he whacked his bat against the ground. That was followed by a ground out by Jay Payton to third base to get Lester out of the inning.

Jonathan Papelbon's save gave him 105 for his career, moving him into sole possession of second place in Sox history, passing Dick Radatz.

 

at Camden Yards (Baltimore) ...

R

H

E

BOSTON RED SOX

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

 

6

9

0

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

2

0

 

3

5

1

W-Jon Lester (12-4)
S-Jonathan Papelbon (33)
L-Jeremy Guthrie (10-9)
Attendance 40,429

2B-Ortiz (2)(Bost), Millar (Balt)
HR-Bay (2)(Bost), Varitek (Bost), Huff (Balt)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Jacoby Ellsbury rf 4 0 0 .265  

 

Dustin Pedroia 2b 4 1 1 .320  

 

David Ortiz dh 5 2 2 .262  

 

Kevin Youkilis 3b/1b 4 0 0 .317  

 

Jason Bay lf 5 2 3 .292  

 

Jed Lowrie ss/3b 4 0 0 .309  

 

Sean Casey 1b 4 0 1 .346  

 

Alex Cora pr/ss 0 0 0 .296  

 

Jason Varitek c 4 1 1 .216  

 

Coco Crisp cf 2 0 1 .248  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Jon Lester 7 4 1 1 5  
  Mny Delcarmen 0.2 0 2 2 1  
  Jon Papelbon 1.1 1 0 0 0  

 

 

         

 

 

 

2008 A.L. EAST STANDINGS

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays 76 48 -

 

 

BOSTON RED SOX 72 53 4 1/2

 

 

New York Yankees 66 58 10

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays 64 60 12

 

 

Baltimore Orioles 61 64 15 1/2