Tigers get the last laugh
Red Sox stumble, remain in basement
Despite a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park Thursday night, the Red Sox to a man feel they are entering a three-game series in Toronto Friday night a better team than when they started their seven-day homestand.
“I think even though we lost we have created some momentum as a team that we can build on in a positive way,’’ said Scott Podsednik, who played center field and drove in a run with a double. “The more we’re together, the more we’re creating that feeling of a 25-man team where everybody does their part. I think we have that now.’’
Ryan Sweeney, who made a nice catch in right, then threw out a runner trying to tag up and score in the second inning, said, “To beat a team like that three out of four is nothing to look down upon. We’re a good team right now and we’re feeling confident when we go into series, whether it’s home or away.’’
The combination of Josh Beckett being a little off, of Detroit starter Max Scherzer continuing his hot streak, and of the Red Sox bullpen allowing an uncharacteristic three runs in two innings resulted in the loss on a night when the rest of the American League East was idle, dropping Boston to three games back.
The Red Sox, who again were without Dustin Pedroia (resting his thumb injury), managed only seven hits against Scherzer in six-plus innings.
The usually suspect Tiger bullpen held the Sox over the final three innings to nail down the win.
But it wasn’t a case of this overachieving team not trying.
In fact, if Quintin Berry hadn’t made a wonderful catch in center to rob Daniel Nava of extra bases in the seventh, the game might have taken on a different complexion.
“I thought that was going to hit the wall,’’ said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. “The ball was really carrying earlier in the day, but it kind of held that ball up so he could make the catch. [Nava] got a good swing righthanded and I thought we were going to score some runs there in the seventh with the way we swung the bat.’’
Beckett went seven innings but allowed four runs on 10 hits.
“It was a real competitive outing,’’ Valentine said. “He gave us a chance to win. He didn’t have quite the curveball he’s had, but he did a good job keeping them at bay.’’
With the Sox down, 4-3, Franklin Morales allowed a solo homer to Delmon Young in the eighth, and Rich Hill then gave up two in the ninth.
The usually feisty Sox lineup had no bite in the final two innings, going down easily.
The Tigers made it tougher for a comeback when Prince Fielder tripled in the sixth run against Hill as Sweeney made an unsuccessful diving attempt near the warning track in right-center. Young followed with a single to drive in Fielder and cap Detroit’s scoring.
Sweeney, who has impressed with his defensive ability, said, “I almost got there. I had the ball in my glove and I just couldn’t hold on.’’
Sweeney recently came off the seven-game disabled list after suffering a concussion while diving for a ball in Philadelphia. He came down hard again, but “I don’t think I hurt anything this time.’’
Sweeney refuses to alter the way he plays. “Just because I had a concussion doesn’t mean I’m going to change things,’’ he said. “I did brace myself more for this one. I had to run a long way for it, and I almost got there.’’
What occurred on Thursday was the reverse of Wednesday.
The Sox trailed Detroit, 3-0, Wednesday, before rebounding to win. On Thursday, they were up, 2-0, fell behind, 3-2, tied it at 3-3, then fell behind again.
At the center of all this was Beckett, who wasn’t quite as sharp as he had been in his last three starts, in which he had a 2-0 record and 1.25 ERA. By the third inning, Beckett had allowed as many runs to the Tigers as he had allowed in his previous 23 2/3 innings - three.
Working with a 2-0 lead, Beckett had a rough third inning, when three straight hits produced a run. No. 8 hitter Don Kelly singled, No. 9 hitter Danny Worth doubled to left, and Berry singled to center, scoring a run.
Brennan Boesch tied the game with a sacrifice fly. After Beckett retired Miguel Cabrera on a fly to center that moved Berry to third, Fielder singled to center, scoring the go-ahead run.
The Red Sox were hot and cold with Scherzer, who had been on a strikeout rampage in his last two outings. He struck out 15 vs. Pittsburgh May 20, then nine more May 26 at Minnesota. He had six Thursday night.
“We just let him off the hook,’’ said Valentine. “We had his pitch count up high into the 80s in the sixth inning, but we couldn’t take advantage of it.’’
The Red Sox got on the board in the second when the emergent Jarrod Saltalamacchia connected for his 10th home run, into the right-field bleachers, leading off the inning.
After Sweeney continued the inning with a single to center, Podsednik (hitting in the leadoff spot) doubled over Berry’s head in center, scoring Sweeney.
Saltalamacchia was at it again in the third as he singled in Youkilis (double) with two outs, tying it at 3-3.
Berry led off the fifth with a nubber toward third that he beat out. After one out, he stole second and advanced to third on Saltalamacchia’s throwing error. Cabrera singled sharply to center, giving the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
As Valentine pointed out, the seventh inning was the Red Sox’ chance. After Nick Punto’s walk chased Scherzer, Podsednik sacrificed him to second. That’s when Nava sent a long fly to center that Berry tracked down a couple of feet in front of the garage door.
“I thought I hit it well,’’ Nava said. “It’s just one of those things where you hit it in the wrong part of the ballpark.’’