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Home » July 2007 Game CommentsJuly 2007 » Landslide


Game 84: July 5, 2007
Devil Rays 4 L: J.P. Howell (1-2) 33-51, 11 game losing streak
8-16-4 series record
WinRed Sox 15 W: Josh Beckett (12-2) 53-31, 4 game winning streak
19-7-3 series record
Highlights: In case you missed the Fourth of July the Red Sox had more fireworks for you last night. Rollicking runs galore in the bottom of the first, second, third, and sixth innings. Beckett sparkled in the tops of innings one through six save for a slight hiccup the second. But even in that inning he notched two strikeouts.

Boston wrapped up a series sweep against Tampa Bay in a dazzling display of offensive prowess. Coco Crisp and Mike Lowell tied for most rib-eyes with five each. Crisp’s spectacle was more showy with a right-handed grand slam off the Coke bottles in the first inning.

Or should I say “Coco Cola” bottles? Crisp capped off his total with a bases-loaded walk in the third. The center fielder came up to bat four times with ducks on the pond and in the final two instances he batted left-handed and came up empty. In the sixth he grounded into an inning-ending double play and in the eighth he struck out swinging for the final out. I suppose he can be given a mulligan for those at bats given his jackpot shot. Bill Mueller’s pair of grand slams from both sides of the plate on July 29, 2003 remains the only instance in the history of baseball this has happened.

Lowell also homered, but his second-inning smash came with two men on. The All-Star third baseman singled in the third and sixth to tie Crisp in RBIs for the evening.

In the midst of the Red Sox runs was a poignant moment when the crowd gave Hideki Okajima a standing ovation for his invitation to the All-Star game. His success served a stark counterpoint of what differentiates a playoff-bound team like the Red Sox from perennial washouts like the Devil Rays.

The four horseman of Tampa Bay’s apocalypse, J.P. Howell, Brian Stokes, Jon Switzer, and Jason Hammel, each had disaster outings in which they surrendered more runs than innings pitched.

If the Red Sox offense weren’t so successful, Josh Beckett probably would have lasted longer than six innings. He blew away the first three batters and carried over his dominance into the second by rendering Carlos Peña a spectator to a devastating curve. The tarrying between Beckett’s mound appearances seemed to detract from his intensity and sharpness, but the double-digit lead meant the few mistake pitches he did let fly were not as costly.

Beckett’s nine strikeouts made a case to Jim Leyland for a Red Sox hurler to headline the Midsummer Classic for the American League, perhaps even over the manager’s own starter, Justin Verlander. Being a crafty old salt, Leyland would probably prefer to preserve one of his best assets but couch it in terms of Beckett’s eminence.

This time it counts, to be sure. But only if you get there intact.

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