Lester Brilliant, Sox Salvage Series Split
The Sox needed a big performance from a big game pitcher on Monday afternoon after both John Lackey and Josh Beckett failed to get the job done in the Bronx. The big performance came from 26-year old, Tacoma Washington native, Jon Lester. The lefty fanned 6 through 6.1 innings and allowed 0 runs to the potent and powerful New York Yankees. Daniel Bard came in and got out of a bases loaded 1 out jam in the 7th, allowing 0 runs to score and after allowing a solo home run to Mark Teixeira in the 8th, handed the ball to Jonathan Papelbon for a 4-out save. It was certainly a nail-biter, but the victory sealed a split of the 4-game set in the Bronx and kept the Sox post-season dreams alive.
Phil Hughes also pitched a great game for the Yankees on Monday, but just couldn’t match the effort of Lester. Hughes allowed just 2 runs, both in the top of the 2nd. The first Sox run came on single by Bill Hall that drove in Ryan Kalish and the 2nd came later in the inning on a fielder’s choice ground out that scored Bill Hall. That was it for the Sox, who could barely scratch together a hit for the remainder of the afternoon, but thankfully, it was just enough offense. With the win, the Sox are 6 games back in the AL East and are 4.5 back in the AL Wild Card (after the Rays victory). The win became even more amplified when the Tampa Bay Rays won their night game, that had the Sox lost, would have dropped them back once again.
Now within 4.5 games of a playoff spot and 6 games remaining with both the Rays and Yankees, the Sox are hanging around just enough for a late surge, but they have a tough road ahead. As the 10-game road trip continues, the Sox have 3 north of the border against the Blue Jays and then travel to hot Texas for 3 games against the Rangers. If they can get through that stretch intact, then they face the Los Angeles Angels, Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners at home in consecutive series. It doesn’t get easier, but it certainly hasn’t been easy to this point, so it is nothing the Sox club isn’t used to by now.
The Sox will face Ricky Romero (9-7, 3.34 era) and Shaun Marcum (10-5, 3.44 era) in their 1st 2 games in Canada, both of whom have pitched extremely well at times in 2010 and have the potential to keep this Sox lineup off-balance each night. Game 1 of the series begins at the Rogers Centre Tuesday night at 7:07pm.