papi.gifOn a night when Daisuke Matsuzaka had far from his good stuff, he struggled into the 6th inning, giving up six runs and 12 hits to a potent Cleveland line up as the Sox ended up losing to the Tribe 8-4.

Matsuzaka was chased with two out in the fifth when Grady Sizemore drilled a two run homerun into the Indians bullpen to bring home the 3rd and 4th runs of the inning for the Erie Warriors.

After working out of a first inning bases loaded jam by getting old friend Trot Nixon to hit into a twin killing, the Sox staked Matsuzaka to a 1-0 lead in the second. J.D. Drew reached on a lead off error by second baseman Josh Barfield and moved to second on a wall ball double by a hustling Mike Lowell. Drew would score when Jason Varitek grounded out to Ryan Garko at first, moving Lowell to third. Paul Byrd settled down and got Alex Cora to fly out to shallow center and Dustin Pedroia to pop out to Jhonny Peralta at short to strand Lowell and end the inning.

After the first, Matsuzaka seemed to settle in and got into a rhythm retiring 11 of the next 13 hitters including Sizemore, Nixon and Peralta on strikeouts. The only base runners were on a second inning single by Josh Barfield and a Garko double in the fourth.

After dinging a very expensive camera Manny Ramirez lead off the fourth with a double into the right field corner. He then advanced to third when Byrd bounced one off of Kelly Shoppach’s shinguard for a wild pitch and Manny would come around to score the Sox 2nd run on Drew’s RBI ground out to Peralta. Lowell popped out to short, Varitek ripped a double down the rightfield line that bounced into the seats but Cora would fly out to Sizemore in center to end the inning with the Sox leading 2-0.

The Tribe got to Matsuzaka in the fifth inning. With one out, former Sox farmhand Shoppach singled to center and Sizemore followed with a double down the line in left sending Shoppach to third. Casey Blake grounded out to Cora scoring Shoppach. Travis Hafner followed with double into the gap in center bringing in Sizemore to tie the contest at 2-2. Garko then struck out to end the threat and leave a runner in scoring position.

The Tribe took over and broke open a tie game with a four run sixth inning. Nixon doubled to right, advanced to third on a fly out to center. David Dellucci then doubled high off the wall in left breaking the 2-2 tie as Nixon scored. Barfield singled, scoring Dellucci to make it 4-2 Indians. Shoppach singled to left but Manny threw out Barfield at second when he rounded the bag too far. It was a good thing because then Sizemore took Daisuke deep for a 6-2 lead for the Tribesman of the Cuyahoga and ending the rookies night. Kyle Snyder came in to walk Blake then got Hafner to fly out and end the frame.

After retiring 6 in a row Byrd started to run into some trouble in the home half of the seventh. Varitek, Cora and Pedroia had back to back to back singles to start the inning and load the bases. Pedroia’s single chased Byrd after 6 plus innings leading 6-2. Coco Crisp came up facing the new Indians pitcher Tom Mastny with bags juiced bringing the crowd back into the game. Blake then made a great catch on a foul pop up leaning into the Cleveland dugout to retire Crisp. That brought up Youkilis, the hottest hitter in Red Sox Nation, but he ended up striking out swinging for the second out. Aaron Fultz was brought in to face David Ortiz with the bases loaded and two out and after a nine-pitch battle he lined out softy to Blake as the Indian bullpen got out of the jam.

Shoppach got his third of four hits on the night when he lead off the 8th and greeted JC Romero with a solo shot into the Monster Seats for a 7-2 Tribe lead. Sizemore walked, Blake whiffed but Sizemore stole second on the strike out. Hafner than hit a ground rule double into the seats along the leftfield line to score Sizemore and increase the lead to 8-2. Romero was able to get Garko and Nixon to ground out to end the eighth with Hafner stranded at third.

The Red Sox got a few runs back in the eighth when Ramirez walked and got forced at second by Drew on a fielders choice. Drew then came around to score when Lowell hit his 10th HR of the year into the Monster Seats to cut the lead to the final 8-4 deficit.

Notes and Musings:

Crisp continues his stellar defensive play with a great diving catch of a dying quail hit by Peralta leading off the second inning. He made two other nice running catches as well.

Youkilis extended his hit streak to 22 games with a third inning single. His nine consecutive multi-hit games tied Jim Rice (1978) for the team record. The American League record is 11 done twice by Joe Jackson (1911 and 1912) and also by Sam Rice (1925). The Major League record is 13 done by Rogers Hornsby in 1923.

Pedroia extended his hit streak to 10 games tonight with a 5th inning single to center. The streak has moved his season average from .172 to .302.

Indians Blake extended his hit streak to 10 games tonight with a first inning single.

Ramirez celebrates his 35th birthday today. In the fourth inning Manny hit a NESN TV camera position in left field near the pole with a foul ball.

Ortiz returned to the line up after 3 games off with a hamstring issue.

Julio Lugo was given the night off, so Crisp hit leadoff and Cora played short and hit 8th.

Julian Tavarez will be skipped in the rotation because of the off day this will also line him up on the same day that Jon Lester pitches in Pawtucket. This will put Lester in line for a possible start in the next 10 days with Tavares going back to the bullpen.

NHL Hall of Famer Ray Bourque visited the pre-game show on NESN.

30 years ago tonight Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley, while pitching for the Indians, no-hit the California Angels. He struck out
12 and walked 1. Jerry Remy was a part of that no-hitter as the Angles second baseman.

Cleveland starter Byrd came into the game with more wins (5) than walks allowed (3).

Cleveland DH Hafner has one of the all-time greatest nicknames, “Pronk”.

Indians first baseman Garko wears Jim Thome’s number 25, while Sizemore wears Manny’s former #24 and Shoppach wears Coco’s old #10.

Shoppach had his first career four-hit game, with 3 singles and a solo HR against his former organization.

The Red Sox last swept the Indians at Fenway Park in 1993.

The Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes said on the pre-game show that when Lester comes back Mike Timlin who is struggling big time in his rehab maybe part of that roster decision.

Matsuzaka had a 6 game win streak coming into tonight it tied him with Aaron Sele (1993) for longest as a Red Sox rookie.

Terry Francona and John Farrell will take in the Pawsox game on the Thursday off day to check on Mike Timlin and Jon Lester.

Ortiz is leading all AL first basemen in the All-Star voting. Ramirez is second amongst outfielders.