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Home » April 2008 Game CommentsApril 2008 » Commence


Game 24: April 24, 2008
WinAngels 7 W: Joe Saunders (4-0)
H: Justin Speier (6)
H: Scot Shields (5)
S: Francisco Rodriguez (9)
14-9, 2 game winning streak
Red Sox 5 L: Manny Delcarmen (0-1)
BS: Hideki Okajima (2)
15-9, 2 game losing streak
Highlights: Justin Masterson was drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft. Two years ago did he dare to imagine himself starting at Fenway?

Games I’m Glad I Did Not Watch Live, Part 2 of 2

Actually I was bummed I did not get to experience Justin Masterson’s first major league start in-person as I did Clay Buchholz’s in August of 2007. Buchholz also started against the Angels, and the crowd was piqued as Gary Matthews, Jr. had criticized Boston fans much like Mike Bibby did.

Day games are the most wondrous things when you can be there, immersing yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of a contest played in full sunshine. They are the most morbid things when they are missed because you are holed up in a hermetically sealed office building for the duration but still have the unhealthy need to record, absorb, and dissect what you already know was a losing effort.

Its saving grace was the debut of Justin Masterson. For the second game in a row a Red Sox staple pitcher was unable to take the mound. Daisuke Matsuzaka fell ill with the flu so the front office scrambled, optioning Craig Hansen back to Pawtucket and summoning Masterson from Portland to Boston.

Some scouts have likened Masterson to Derek Lowe by virtue of his sinker and PECOTA lists Brandon Webb in the top five of comparable players. The problem is the players listed one through four: Nate Minchey, Richie Gardner, Chris Reitsma, and Sean Bergman. If, like me, you are unsure who any of these pitchers except Reitsma are, you are in good company. He did not face players above Double-A until Thursday afternoon.

And yet he lasted six innings against a playoff-caliber lineup, equalizing his walks and strikeouts at four, permitting two hits (one of which was a homer and the only earned run that marred his line), and impressing a fan base that has come to expect excellence from its homegrown players. While it’s unlikely a second outing by him could top Clay Buchholz’s second start in 2007, Masterson’s premiere whetted the fan’s appetite for another showing.

Masterson got a taste of the future, and gave the Red Sox a taste of it as well.

David Ortiz, hungry to get past his early-season slump, slammed a home run with Jacoby Ellsbury on second in the ninth to pull his team within two runs of the left coast division leaders. Manny Ramirez enticingly arced a fly ball to the deepest part of park but Torii Hunter was there to net the ball for the game and series win.

The four-run fourth inning outburst visited upon Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, and Hideki Okajima by the visitors proved too much to overcome, however. With the flu and short starting pitching outings, bullpen overuse is already an alarming trend to monitor this season.

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