The Boston Red Sox completed their 9-game AL East laden road trip yesterday with a 4-2 win over David Price and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, finishing 8-1 against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays. The 9 game swing is the team's best since 1977 when they rolled through the Angels, Athletics and Mariners.
The road trip began with the Sox trailing in the division behind the Yankees, but Boston heads back to Beantown with a 1.5 game lead over the Jeter-less Yankees. "We left in second place and came home in first place. That's a great trip," said Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Globe last night. The Red Sox slugger finished 2 for 3 with a double, a home run and two walks in last night’s finale at Tropicana Field.
Gonzalez’s 14 home runs and Major League-leading 61 RBI are the kind of production the team hoped for when they gave up three of their top prospects for him over the winter. Gonzalez had an RBI in 9 straight games. The last Red Sox player to do that was Manny Ramirez in 2002.
RHP Clay Bucholz lasted just five innings and 81 pitches before leaving the game with lower back tightness, an injury that has forced him into some unwanted rest as of late. Bucholz has expressed his desire to stay off the disabled list but the team may opt for a more conservative approach. The Red Sox have former first round pick and work-in-progress Andrew Miller dominating in AAA Pawtucket right now. The southpaw is 3-3 with a 2.47 earned run average in 13 appearances down on the farm. Miller has shown flashes of his old self, making hitters look like little leaguers. In his last start, he pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. His 10 strikeouts on June 15 are the most he has had in a single game all season.
Just think for a second how unstoppable the Red Sox could be if Miller pitches like he does when he was first called up by the Tigers in 2006. Lester, Beckett, Bucholz and Miller could be the best front four in the majors. And with Miller deciding to stay with the Red Sox by not opting out of his contract on Thursday, he is expected to start Tuesday against the Padres on Tuesday hinted GM Theo Epstein earlier this week. The move could work in Bucholz’s favor because of the two days off the team has in the next week and a half. The Sox could jumble their rotation to give the ailing pitcher more rest and go with a six man staff until they need to make another roster move.
No word yet on what the team will do with Tim Wakefield after his scheduled start on Sunday against the Brewers. Perhaps he will stay in the rotation if in fact Bucholz needs to spend some time on the DL. It looks as if infielder Jed Lowrie will be heading back to the DL with a separated shoulder; utilityman Drew Sutton was removed from last night’s game in Pawtucket early on suggesting another call up to the big league club. Sutton is hitting .290 with 5 RBI in 12 games and 31 at-bats this season.
The injuries to Clay Bucholz and Jed Lowrie were the only dark spots during the team’s phenomenal road trip. If there is one thing this road trip has proved, its that the Red Sox are back, and they are here to say. They are red-hot and playing like the championship caliber team fans were promised. Since starting 2-6 the Sox have one of the best records in baseball, expect these guys to feed off the weaker Brewers. The 41-27 Sox open up a six game homestand tonight at 7:10 EST against the Milwaukee. John Lackey (4-5) faces off against Shaun Marcum (7-2).
A New Face
My name is Tyler Manoukian, a junior journalism major at UMass Amherst. Expect tons of Red Sox content from a die-hard Red Sox fan over the next couple of months from your new Red Sox Insider.