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Home » June 2006 Game CommentsJune 2006 » Baptism


Game 59: June 10, 2006
Rangers (33-28), 7
Red Sox (35-24), 4
L: Julian Tavarez (1-1)
W: Bryan Corey (1-0)
H: Francisco Cordero (8)
S: Akinori Otsuka (11)

For many years Red Sox fans have eagerly awaited the major league debut of left-handed prospect Jon Lester, so what’s another five hours? Yesterday’s day game turned into an early evening affair between two rookie standouts, Lester and the Rangers’ John Rheinecker. Neither pitched long enough to be a part of the decision, but both showed they had every right to play at this level.

Lester is a different animal from Jonathan Papelbon. As a southpaw with heat, he probably has been inured to dominating and confounding his opposition throughout his career. As a result, initimidation was probably not a required trait to contribute to his success. His presence on the mound seemed less assured than Papelbon’s in his debut. In his postgame press conference, Lester mentioned that he was relieved that he could get pitches over for strikes, which isn’t very confident language. Nevertheless, he was able to strike out Gary Matthews, Jr. twice (the first time was Lester’s first major league out), Gerald Laird, and Mark Teixeira. Notably, the Teixeira whiff was in the second inning with the bases juiced and two out.

In his four and one-third innings Lester also issued four walks, but only the bases on balls to Hank Blalock in the first inning resulted in a run. Blalock scored on a double by Mark DeRosa, who doubled into the soggy left field corner to put the Rangers up by two runs. The Red Sox would never have the lead in this game.

Adverse field conditions didn’t help play, but the defense behind Lester made questionable decisions. For example, in the second inning Alex Gonzalez attempted the force at second base on a Jerry Hairston, Jr. sharp grounder. With the alacrity the Boston shortstop loosed the ball to Mark Loretta, perhaps he thought a double play could be turned. Or, he wanted to erase the speedy Kinsler from the basepaths. At any rate, the hurried throw handcuffed Loretta and the net result was no outs produced. As noted above, Lester would leave the second unscathed, but the bases loaded situation could have been avoided with more prudence.

The fourth inning witnessed another fielder’s choice by the Red Sox. Kevin Youkilis, fresh from a foray into the fair territory near the tarp that resulted in a tangle with Loretta’s cleats and a leadoff double by Laird, tried to delete the Ranger’s catcher at third. Youkilis’s throw nearly eluded Mike Lowell and required his third baseman to vacate third. With runners on first and third, Matthews managed to make contact on a sacrifice fly to right field. Trot Nixon slipped when the tried to set himself up for the throw back into the infield, allowing Laird to tag up to break the 2-2 tie.

The second out of the fourth came on a nifty play by Lowell. At last the Red Sox were able to catch the lead runner; Hairston was too far off second base with Michael Young at the plate. Lowell fielded Young’s grounder and relayed to Gonzalez, who tagged the stray Texas right fielder.

All three of Boston’s runs came from the heart of the lineup. Manny Ramirez drove in a run in the first inning on a ground out that vaulted high enough to plate Loretta and launched a solo four-bagger in the eighth. David Ortiz grounded into a twin killing in the third but Coco Crisp scored despite the carnage.

Unfortunately, as generous as Red Sox management was with hot dogs the bullpen, specifically Julian Tavarez and Keith Foulke, was with runs. Tavarez allowed a two-RBI single in the seventh off the bat of another Ranger rookie standout, second baseman Ian Kinsler. Only Kevin Mench’s not-too-heady charge for third halted that inning from becoming a scoring barrage. Foulke was touched for a home run by Blalock in the ninth after walking Teixeira to commence the inning. All three of Foulke’s outs were fly balls to fairly deep right field, which was not comforting.

Lester’s initiation to the major leagues did not come with the panache and flash of Papelbon’s, but his steady and calm demeanor indicated to me a difference in style, not talent. His intensity manifests itself differently than his peer. At any rate, I hope he avoided being seen by his family with the dreaded pink backpack and am excited to see him hand off said atrocity to Clay Buchholz in a few years.

Thanks to Matt of NU50, I’ll be able to attend the first game of today’s double header. Of course I’ll try to get day of game tickets for the second game as well. I understand David Pauley will be pitching....


Joanna, have fun today...it will be windy, but in or out? Don't ask me. The way Josh has been giving up "taters," I hope it's in. And I think the 5 hour wait made a difference in Jon's stuff. We'll see on Thursday/Friday. Take care, lucky. I'll be watching for ya on NESN. You'd be surprised what you can see the spectators do while we, the viewers lucky enough to be watching in Hi-Def, are in on their antics. A simple pick of the nose brings smiles to us here while watching. Forget about an errant scratch in the wrong place.....people are on the floor laughing. Have fun...be safe.

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