When Jason Bay was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the three team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the LA Dodgers, everybody wondered if Bay had what it takes to replace one of the purest hitters in baseball. Three weeks post-trade, its clear that he can and will. Bay blasted two homeruns last night to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 in front of a packed Camden Yards crowd of over 40,000. The win keeps the Red Sox 4.5 games behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays who also were victorious yesterday evening with a 6-4 win over the LA Angels.
On the night, Bay was 3-5 with the two homers, four RBI’s and scored two runs. Since joining the club, he’s batting .348 (23-66), has three home runs and had driven in 16 runs in 16 games. Ramirez’s numbers in LA do have Bay beat (.424 average, 6 HR’s, 21 RBI’s) but Bay has proven that there is a spot for him in this lineup and so far he’s excelled in his new role.
“That’s part of my job, driving in runs, and you’ve got to have guys on base to do that,” said Bay. “It’s a testament to those guys. (I’m) just trying to be a complement to the puzzle.”
While Bay provided the offensive spark, Jon Lester was able to pitch another gem allowing only one run on four hits through seven innings of work to pick up his 12th win on the season. The win also improves Lester’s career record vs. Baltimore to a perfect 5-0 and since May 25th the lefty boasts an impressive 9-1 mark.
“I don’t think my mind-set has changed any since April,” Lester said. “More consistent, pound the zone. If you can show guys you’re ahead in the zone, they’re going to swing at pitches early in the count that aren’t necessarily good pitches to hit. I was able to do that tonight.”
Lester left the game with a 2-1 lead and Bay’s second homer of the night put the Sox up 4-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th. On in relief, Manny Delcarmen made things interesting with two outs by putting two runners on via walks. Manager Terry Francona summoned closer Jonathan Papelbon to finish off the O’s and although he allowed Delcarmen’s inherited runners to score, he was able to pick up his 33rd save of the season.
Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie was the tough luck loser pitching seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He falls to 10-9 on the year and in his nine loses, the Orioles lineup has only been able to muster up a total of 14 runs for support. Before last nights loss, Guthrie had won his previous four starts while allowing only one run in each of them. He did however surrender a season high five walks which he believed to be the difference in the game.
“Probably the biggest struggle I’ve had all season with my stuff,” Guthrie said. “My fastball command was not there; I walked a lot of guys. It might have been the toughest outing of the season for me as far as laboring. I had to work hard to get through five and get a couple more.”
Aubrey Huff hit his 27th homerun of the season in the fourth inning to score the only run allowed by Lester on the night.
“We’ve been coming back all year long and so were expecting one of those games,” Huff said. “You’re not going to win them all, but obviously that’s one of the better teams in the American League East and the American League for that matter. They’ve got a great bullpen and Lester gave them a great start tonight.”
The Sox will try to make it two in a row tonight with the ball in Dice-K Matsuzaka’s hand. Matsuzaka has provided a much needed lift this season, especially with the inconsistency of ace Josh Beckett. At 14-2 he leads the club in wins, and at this point is a serious contender for the AL Cy Young award. He is currently 6-0 on the road this season and looks to remain unbeaten away from Fenway Park tonight.
The O’s will counter with Daniel Cabrera (8-7, 4.78 ERA) who in the last month has been very inconsistent with each start. You never know what pitcher is going to show up at the park with Cabrera on the mound but the O’s hope it’s the one who was able to put up a win.
Tonight’s first pitch is at 7:05pm EST.