After a disastrous Wednesday that saw the Boston Red Sox fall to the struggling Detroit Tigers for their first win of the season -- and lose the reigning World Series MVP in the process -- the Sox rebounded with a 12-6 win on Thursday, thanks in part to the bat of Lowell's replacement in the lineup.
With their third baseman sidelined until April 25 with a sprained thumb, Kevin Youkilis seamlessly moved across the diamond to cover his position, and offseason pickup Sean Casey took Youkilis' spot at first against Detroit. Surprisingly, Boston didn't really miss a beat, as they used Casey's 3 RBI to win a wild game in which the Sox only briefly trailed, but didn't feel safe with the lead until the 8th inning.
Detroit took an early 2-0 lead in the 4th, but Boston jumped all over Tigers starter Nate Robertson in the bottom of that inning, tagging him for 4 runs, punctuated by big hits from J.D. Drew and Coco Crisp. Meanwhile, those 2 runs would be the only Detroit scores allowed by Sox starter Tim Wakefield, who in his typical fashion walked 5 and threw 109 pitches in just 5 innings but got outs when he needed them.
After Manny Delcarmen let Magglio Ordonez and the Tigers cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the 7th, the Red Sox exploded in the bottom of the inning, scoring 4 more runs off of Zach Miner and Francis Beltran. Manny Ramirez collected his 7th and 8th RBI of the season with a double, and Casey plated 2 with a single later in the inning.
Of course, the Tigers would still make it interesting. Facing Julian Tavarez in the top of the 8th, they got on base 5 consecutive times and scored 3 runs; it finally took Jonathan Papelbon to relieve Tavarez and stop the bleeding. But that brief Detroit outburst was, in the end, just that -- brief. The Red Sox got to Yorman Bazardo in the bottom of the 8th inning, as Youkilis, Drew, and Crisp would combine for another 4-run inning that would put the game completely out of reach. Wakefield got the win, Papelbon earned a save, and for their efforts, Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima (who faced exactly one batter) were awarded holds.
Now the Red Sox will host the rival Yankees for the first time in the young 2008 season. The two teams are tied in the AL East standings, and each squad has played unevenly so far this year, but you can bet this series will set the tone for the kind of battle it will be in the East this year.
5-5, T-2nd in AL East, 1.5 games back