They call it Friendly Fenway for a reason. The Boston Red Sox haven’t had any problem winning at home this season; their troubles have just been everywhere else. Victories on the road have been hard to come by for this years’ club but they managed to find a way to win last night, beating the Seattle Mariners 5-3 at Safeco Field.
Bartolo Colon pitched 7 strong innings allowing only 1 run on 5 hits while striking out 5 Mariners batters. His fastball topped 97mph on the radar gun and the former Cy Young Award winner looked to be back in old form. Now all the veteran needs to do is lose 30 lbs and it will be the Colon of old.
Manager Terry Francona was impressed by Colon’s second outing since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Clay Buchholtz’s roster spot. Buchholtz continues to nurse a broken fingernail on his pitching hand while rehabbing in the Sox farm system.
“I thought his movement, his life on his fastball was good and he got strong,” Francona said. “He made a lot of good quality pitches with life.”
Colon out pitched Felix Hernandez, who in the past, had owned Red Sox hitters. The 22nd year old one-hit the Sox last season at Fenway and while Sox hitters had not forgotten the stellar performance, they still knew that the young fireballer was beatable.
“We hit the ball really hard early in the game and they made some great plays. When he pitched against us last year, we didn’t hit any balls hard,” Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia said.
David Ortiz got things going for the Sox in the 4th inning by blasting his 12th homerun of the season over the centerfield fence. After Seattle tied the game in the 6th on an RBI groundout by Raul Ibanez that plated Ichiro Suzuki, Colon pitched his way out of the inning to keep the game knotted at 1-1.
The Sox would do all the damage they would need in the top of the 7th, plating 4 runs on 5 hits all with 2 outs. Pedroia, Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell would all connect on RBI hits while Jason Varitek walked with the bases loaded to drive in Boston’s final run on the night.
“With him [Hernandez] you’re just trying to get a pitch out over the plate to hit,” Pedroia said. “You don’t get many so you’ve got to make sure you hit them.”
Hideki Okajima relieved Colon and pitched a scoreless 8th inning, lowering his season ERA to 0.86. Jonathan Papelbon came on in the 9th to close the door and recorded the final 3 outs. He allowed two unearned runs but was able to record 2 strike outs in his inning of work.
Before the win, the Sox had lost their previous 7 road games but look to build off the effort for the rest of the road trip. They are now 11-17 on the road for the year.
Tonight, Dice-K Matsuzaka puts his perfect 8-0 record on the line against Seattle’s Miguel Batista. Batista sports a 3-6 record on the year with a 6.47 ERA while Matsuzaka remains unbeaten with a 2.25 ERA. With tonight’s outing, Matsuzaka will attempt to match Josh Becket’s 9-0 start of the 2007 season.
“I’m very grateful that I’ve been given the chance to get these wins under these circumstances,” Matsuzaka said through a translator.
Against Seattle in 2007, Matsuzaka was 1-1 with a 4.33 ERA. He dominated fellow Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki. The Seattle right fielder was only 1-for-12 with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts versus Matsuzaka.
First pitch of tonight’s game will be at 10:10 EST.