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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ichiro is not amused

Winning is a wonderful thing, no? After a terrible weekend against the Angels (three straight losses), the Sox found themselves in the Pacific Northwest, knocking off the pathetic Mariners (38-61), 4-0, last night.

In no particular order, the four main ingredients to the Sox' inconsistent play has been 1) Jacoby Ellsbury's huge slump as the leadoff hitter, 2) Boston has been terrible on the road all season, 3) they desperately need David Ortiz back in the lineup and the 4) the bullpen outside of Papelbon is a funhouse of surprises (most of which are bad).

For one night at least, Jon Lester made everything right for the Red Sox (58-43). He gave his team 7.1 scoreless innings before handing it over to Papelbon.

Lester (8-3) allowed eight hits, no walks and six strikeouts. His ERA was lowered to 3.20. Without getting all Baseball Prospectus/Tim Kurkjian on you, I'd submit that Lester has been better than any other Sox starter this season (gasp!). Sure, Dice-K has sexier numbers but he's had a couple clunkers and missed time on the DL. Lester has made every scheduled start and quickly established himself as one of the top young arms in the game.

Manny Ramirez had three hits but would you believe that Jason Varitek woke up from his two-month long dirt nap and cranked a two-run home run in the fifth off Jarrod Washburn?

Varitek had another hit and a walk. The other guest star at the bottom of the lineup was rookie Jed Lowrie. He had a two-run single in the eighth which accounted for the other scoring. He also added another hit and a walk.

I was high on the rookie when he made his debut early in the season. I was on vacation in Alaska last week when Julio Lugo got hurt but needless to say, I'm happy to see the rookie get another chance.

I don't root for players on my teams to get hurt but Lugo was pushing it. Let's never mention him again, agreed?

Papelbon came on with one out in the eighth and the bases loaded but he hadn't worked since the All-Star game. He induced a ground ball on his second pitch of the eighth and had a clean ninth to earn his 29th save.

With the Yankees coming to town this weekend, it's vital that the Sox take care of this inferior team. Boston is 1.5 games behind Tampa Bay and 3 ahead of the Yanks. If you must know, the Red Sox lead the Wild Card race by two games over the Twins.

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