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Home » July 2010 Game CommentsJuly 2010 » Not So Easy Lee

Not So Easy Lee

Darnell McDonald devours left-handed pitching. The splits say it all: .288 versus .262 batting average, a less striking difference in on-base percentage (.333 compared to .328), but a huge gap in slugging (an impressive .507 compared to .361). So it was not too surprising for the platoon player to come through in the first with a one-out double off the wall.

Julio Borbon bobbled David Ortiz’s fly ball to center, allowing McDonald to cross home for the first run of the game. Kevin Youkilis followed the designated hitter with a nifty single to left, and as they had done to many a Cy Young award-winning pitcher such as Cliff Lee before backed their opposition into a corner early. Adrian Beltre grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, hobbling along the first base line, and the local nine did not have another baserunner until the fifth inning.

John Lackey nearly matched Lee inning for inning until the sixth. Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz sprayed Texas Leaguers about the field and Vladimir Guerrero refrained from swinging at anything in sight for a base on balls and the visitors inched ahead for a 2-1 lead.

Lackey rebounded in the seventh against the bottom of the Rangers’ lineup. Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon paired to keep the Red Sox within one run. Ron Washington stayed with Lee perhaps an inning too long, a great temptation given Lee’s ability to pitch the full nine.

Marco Scutaro knocked a ground ball single up the middle and was sacrificed to second by McDonald. Ever the competitor Lee sprinted to first and covered the bag, getting in front of Kinsler who very easily could have made the same play. Ortiz failed to get on base but did work Lee for another eight pitches. That additional effort may have made the difference for Youkilis, who starched a double to left field to send the game into extra frames.

Cruz’s theft of Mike Cameron’s incipient homer in the tenth wasn’t merely frustrating in and of itself but also introduced the possibility that Manny Delcarmen would take the mound.

The first half of this season saw a number of failed late comebacks and the inability to keep runs off the board during bonus baseball. One of the main culprits in this failing was Delcarmen, who toed the rubber in the eleventh.

I steeled myself for another outing like he had on June 30, in which failed to notch a single out and surrendered five runs. Instead he made himself the Pride of Hyde Park again, inducing three ground ball outs. Bill Hall did his best Dustin Pedroia impersonation on the final out, tumbling after Guerrero’s grounder before it skipped into the outfield. He then asked Papelbon to get something off the top of shelves for him. “There you go, buddy.”

While he is not performing as well as Alex Gonzalez and he probably isn’t as good a leadoff hitter as Jacoby Ellsbury, Scutaro has been serviceable. He walked to start the bottom of the eleventh, unnerving Alexi Ogando to throw the ball into left field when McDonald sacrificed bunted again. Or perhaps it was the sight of two sacrifice bunts by the Red Sox in a single game that was so disconcerting.

With none out and runners at second and third Washington called for the intentional walk of Ortiz to set up the force at every base. Youkilis added the slight by the Rangers’ skipper to the All-Star snub and powered the ball deep enough to center to score Scutaro for the win.

Fully aware of his team’s celebratory tendencies, Youkilis flipped off his helmet before he was mobbed. It’s a metaphor, J.D. A metaphor for awesomeness.

Game 91: July 17, 2010 ∙ 11 innings
2L: Alexi Ogando (3-1)
2B: Josh Hamilton (29)
WinRed Sox
3W: Manny Delcarmen (3-2)
2B: Darnell McDonald (10), Mike Cameron (8), Kevin Youkilis (22)

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