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Dan Shaughnessy

Body parts hurting, but team’s spirit not broken

By Dan Shaughnessy
June 28, 2010

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SAN FRANCISCO — They left their X-rays in San Francisco. They brought their hearts back to Boston.

For three bone-cracking nights and days the Red Sox were sittin’ by the dock of Sick Bay. They lost Dustin Pedroia (broken foot) Friday night, Clay Buchholz (hyperextended knee) Saturday, and Victor Martinez (fractured bone, left thumb) in yesterday’s 5-1 win over Tim Lincecum and the Giants.

“We definitely want to get out of here,’’ Martinez said after Jon Lester’s five-hit masterpiece.

When the MRI-Across-America tour returned to Boston this morning we can only hope the Sox were greeted by a procession of ambulances bound for Massachusetts General Hospital.

It’s a good thing they played only three games at AT&T Park in China Basin. One more game and they might have run out of players or suffered an outbreak of the bubonic plague.

“Good thing we’re tenacious,’’ said veteran Tim Wakefield. “It’s not fun to watch and it’s very concerning seeing the injuries we’ve accumulated.’’

Friday night it was Pedroia flopping in the dirt around home plate like a salmon on dry land after fouling a ball off his foot. Pedroia got up and took one more pitch (ball four) before he was lifted for a pinch runner. He hobbled around the clubhouse on crutches for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday it was Buchholz pulling up short like a wounded deer as he ran toward second base on a grounder to third by Marco Scutaro. Buchholz was done for the day even though he’d only pitched an inning. The Sox weren’t taking any chances.

Yesterday it was Martinez taking a foul ball off his left thumb (and foot) while Pablo Sandoval batted in the bottom of the second. Martinez ran into the middle of the infield trying to make the pain go away. He finally crumpled into a heap on the far side of the mound. Manager Terry Francona and trainer Mike Reinold came out to see if Martinez could continue.

The catcher stayed in the game, finished the inning, then came to bat and flied to center in the top of the third. He caught Lester in a lengthy bottom of the third, taking another painful pitch off the top of the left thumb with Andres Torres at bat. Martinez came out for the fourth, took some warm-up tosses, but was in obvious pain. The manager came out to get his catcher and Jason Varitek was summoned to finish the game behind the dish.

“He was X-rayed here and they found a fracture,’’ said Francona. “The glove doesn’t necessarily protect you in that spot. He’ll be examined tomorrow. It’s not a given that he goes on the disabled list. It was swollen. That’s what was bothering him.’’

“Let’s see how it feels tomorrow,’’ said Martinez. “I’ll have it checked and we’ll see what happens. There’s nothing you can really do about it. Everybody knows you’re going to get hurt someday. That’s baseball. It’s part of the game.’’

We also had a few anxious moments in the sixth when J.D. Drew, recently shelved with a hamstring pull, led off with a triple to right. We suspected Drew might take himself out for precautionary purposes, but J.D.-the-Gamer stuck around for the full nine.

“Hey, we won the series, that’s the way I’m looking at it,’’ said Kevin Youkilis. “Injuries are just part of what goes on in sports.’’

But you begin to wonder. Jacoby Ellsbury has played nine games this year. Both Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida were sent to the shelf after sustaining cracked ribs in collisions with Adrian Beltre. Daisuke Matsuzaka started the season on the disabled list. Josh Beckett has one win and has been on the disabled list since May 19. Mike Cameron tore an abdominal muscle and has one homer and eight RBIs.

Sox fans can say a prayer of thanks for the gift of interleague play. Boston finished 13-5 against the pathetic Senior Circuiters. The Sox have won 10 of their last 11 series against National League teams.

Overall, the Sox are 42-22 since April 20, the best record in baseball during that stretch. Tomorrow night they play the staggering, feuding Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. The Sox are 26-15 on Yawkey Way. Perhaps nothing can stop them.

“We’ve won two in a row,’’ said Francona. “I wouldn’t call it bad luck. I don’t care to talk about luck. You control what you can control. We have a day off tomorrow. The team responded. We have some really good players that are getting beat up and it doesn’t help, but it doesn’t mean we can’t win.’’

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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