Masterful Masterson, Bogus Bullpen
The Red Sox needed an emergency starter yesterday so they brought up Justin Masterson, a Double A pitcher for Portland, to start the series finale against the LA Angels and their deep and potent lineup. And he was better than anyone could have imagined. I guess that's why he's rated the top pitching prospect of the Sox organization. He went six smooth innings, giving up a solo run and only two hits. He walked four, though, and that's what contributed to his pitch count of 95. But that doesn't matter - he has a bright future with the big club staring at him right in the face. The Sox sent him back to Portland after the start and before they jetted to Tampa Bay, but he expected it. He'll be back. He'll be back. Theo said this...
"He did a tremendous job with his composure throwing strikes," general manager Theo Epstein said. "We're proud of him. We couldn't have asked for more from him today."
Boston had a 3-1 lead in the game going into the seventh inning and were only five or six outs away from Paps' time. But the bullpen COULD NOT do the job. Lopez came in to start the sixth and couldn't record an out. Then it was the still recovering Little Manny Delcarmen, who also could not record an out. Each surrendered two runs, and what Justin had done had become undone. Little Manny had this to say...
"I overheard Javier Lopez talking about how Masterson came in out of the blue and threw six great innings," said Manny Delcarmen. "We wanted to finish it off for him, but it didn't happen today. Warming up I was a tad dizzy," Delcarmen said. "I was hoping to get through."
Manny, next time tell Tito you don't feel well enough to pitch. He KNOWS what you've been through. Okie only made matters worse, as did Aardsma and Tavarez. Only Papi's two run tater in the ninth made the score respectable. This was a game that the 2007 team would not have lost. Now, I'm turning the page. Game over, but not forgotten. The team is in Tampa for a three game set against the Rays. Maybe the Florida sunshine will help the guys rid themselves of this insidious bug that has raced through the clubhouse in rapid-fire fashion. Here are your pitching matchups for the series...
Tim Wakefield (2-0, 3.96 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (0-0, 9.00) tonight
Clay Buchholz (1-1, 4.79) vs. Edwin Jackson (2-2, 4.63) Saturday
Josh Beckett (2-1, 5.12) vs. James Shields (2-1, 3.30) Sunday
So we miss Scott Kazmir. Nice! We will take two of three. And there you have it. A successful homestand, except for the last two games, but still a good one all things and diseases considered. Now comes a quick three game trip to Florida and then it's back to Fenway for more mirth and fun. Hopefully after Monday's day off, the team will be completely healthy. Daisuke isn't even making the trip! I hope every one of you has a great weekend, and I'll be here tomorrow, same Bat Time, same Bat Web Addy. Click on the title for the Globe's Sox page, and as always, BE WELL.