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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What about John Smoltz?

After losing 6-3 to the Texas Rangers last night at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the Boston Red Sox have to ask themselves, how much longer do they let the John Smoltz experiment play out?

He actually cruised through the first five innings last night and entered the bottom of the sixth with a 2-1 lead. As fast as you can say, deep in the heart of Texas, his outing was over as the Rangers (50-41) exploded for five runs in the inning, including three home runs.

Michael Young (3 hits, 2 runs; captain of the All-Underrated team) started it off with a solo bomb to left center. Hank Blalock (2 hits, 2 runs) singled home Josh Hamilton and then former Sox outfielder David Murphy (2 hits) golfed a fastball for a two-run homer. Finally, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who the Sox desperately wanted over the winter) hit the first pitch he saw out of the park.

Smoltz's (1-3) final line was 5.2 innings, six earned runs on nine hits with five strikeouts. Terry Francona seemed to leave him in too long but then again his pitch count was still low and he had been great up until then.

With Clay Buchholz pitching great in Pawtucket (and good enough last Friday vs. Toronto), I have to think that Smoltz has a short leash. He's had a Hall of Fame career and from all reports, he's a nice veteran presence to have around but this isn't a Hollywood movie, it's a pennant race. The Red Sox can't afford to have Smoltz (and Brad Penny) being such liabilities as the season turns to August and September.

Boston (55-37) took a 1-0 lead in the first on David Ortiz's RBI double which scored Kevin Youkilis. Like Friday night in Toronto, Ortiz just missed a homer as his shot glanced off the top of the wall.

Jason Varitek made it 2-0 Sox in the fourth with an RBI double scoring J.D. Drew. Unfortunately, Mike Lowell was gunned down at the plate on the same play.

Kevin Millwood (9-7) prevailed in the battle of former Braves pitchers. He went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

Youk knocked in Jacoby Ellsbury with an RBI single in the eighth but the Red Sox offense continued to sputter in the team's third straight loss. Ellsbury was moved back to the top of the lineup but Jason Bay, Varitek, Drew and Nick Green are all in big time slumps at the same time.

C.J. Wilson notched his eighth save for Texas as he got four outs including two strikeouts.

Texas native Josh Beckett looks to get his team back on track tonight.

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