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Hopes were high with Josh Beckett taking the mound for the first time this season, but Beckett was rusty in his return, allowing 5 runs (all earned) in just 4-2/3 innings. He walked four and gave up three hits, including a HR to Vernon Wells in the bottom of the 4th which made the score 2-1 in Toronto's favor. In the 5th inning, Beckett left the bases loaded before being relieved by Manny Delcarmen; Delcarmen promptly served up a grand slam to Frank Thomas (the Big Hurt's 2nd HR in as many games). Thomas' blast gave the Jays a 6-2 lead and eventually proved to be the decisive hit in the ballgame. And Julio Lugo didn't exactly help the cause by committing two errors this afternoon. In fact, it was a rough defensive series all over for the Sox -- Lugo had three errors in the series, and Sean Casey's critical error yesterday led to the sequence of events that cost Boston the game.
On the offensive side, the Sox hit 3 home runs off of Roy Halladay (Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Varitek, and the red-hot J.D. Drew supplied the firepower), but all were solo shots, greatly minimizing the potential damage. By the time Boston's bullpen finally silenced the Blue Jay bats in the 7th, the score was 7-3, and David Ortiz's 8th-inning RBI single was too little, too late.
One key to Toronto's win was working the count; they made Beckett throw 92 pitches in 4-2/3 innings, wearing him out early and feasting on what has been a disappointing bullpen so far this season. All told, they made Beckett, Delcarmen, and David Aardsma throw 126 pitches in 6 innings of work, constantly forcing them deep into counts and scoring 7 runs in the process. By the time Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon came in and shut down Toronto's lineup, the damage had already been done, and the game was essentially over.
If there was a bright spot in the Toronto series, though, it was the play of J.D. Drew. Drew is hitting .400/.400/.867 on the young season, with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Who knows, perhaps it's a sign that he'll finally start living up to Boston's expectations. One thing we do know is that the Sox's other bounce-back candidate, Julio Lugo, continues to disappoint -- he's OPS-ing just .568 on the season, to go along with the aforementioned errors.
The Sox will finally head back to Boston and get a day's rest on Monday. Then they'll try to turn things around in a three-game series against the struggling Tigers at Fenway Park, with Daisuke Matsuzaka getting the start on Tuesday.
3-4, 5th in AL East, 2 games back