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John Smoltz pitched five strong innings to record his first win in a Red Sox uniform and Kevin Youkilis belted two home runs as the Sox punished Kansas City’s pitching for a 15-9 win.
The game was all Boston from the start, as the offense scored nine runs in the first four innings. Youkilis, Jason Varitek and David Ortiz all homered while Smoltz dazzled, letting up one run on four hits in five innings while striking out seven. The game got so out of hand at one point that commentator Don Orsillo spent several minutes comparing Dennis Eckersley to Bee Gees member Barry Gibb.
Not so fast. Smoltz was pulled after throwing 97 pitches in five innings and Justin Masterson was called on to preserve the eight-run lead. Easy task right? Well, Masterson let the Royals back in the game by letting five straight batters reach base. In the end, he surrendered five earned runs in only 1/3 of an inning. After the Royals tacked on another run in the top of the seventh, bringing the score to 9-7, the Red Sox bats woke up again and they scored three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings. Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth inning in the pouring rain to closeout what became a crazy offensive battle thanks to sloppy defense and live bats.
How could someone steal this award from John Smoltz on a night when he pitched five very strong innings with seven strikeouts? This is how: 3-for-4, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB. Youkilis helped get the offense started in the first and second innings and was the best offensive player in an offensive game.
This has just not been Masterson’s series. It started on Thursday, when he got the loss after letting up two runs in 1/3 of an inning. This game was not any better for him as he let up five runs in 1/3 of an inning. In his last six innings, Masterson has allowed 12 earned runs. Just some food for thought.
“You sit here for four starts hearing me say that it’s going to happen, but people want to see it. The patience they have had with me is vital to what I believe is going to be a very successful run” - John Smoltz, on finally winning a game for the Red Sox.
W: John Smoltz (1-2)
L: Gil Meche (4-9)