|Connelly’s Top Ten: Who Cares About the Super Bowl||Surging Celtics To Clash With Cavaliers||Orlando Magic Snaps Boston’s 5-Game Winning Streak||Connelly’s Top Ten: Dog Day of Sports!|
It was a sensational re-debut for Paul Byrd, returning from pseudo-retirement, as he pitched six scoreless innings en route to a 7-0 destruction of the Toronto Blue Jays. Byrd gave up only three hits while throwing 83 pitches, 53 of which were strikes. Also debuting for the Red Sox was reliever Billy Wagner, who handled the 8th inning, giving up a double but striking out the side.
The offense for the Red Sox was slow but steady, getting exactly one run in each of the first four innings, causing Jays ace Roy Halladay to have another lackluster start. Included in that total is a home run to left by Rocco Baldelli in the 2nd; Baldelli was filling in for Jason Bay, who had the night off. The Jays would try to answer in the 3rd, loading the bases with two outs via two straight walks, but could not capitalize.
The Sox would go on to give themselves a grand slam-proof lead in the seventh. Alex Gonzalez doubled to lead off, then Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a bunt single, which included some interesting backspin. Dustin Pedroia grounded to the new pitcher Shawn Camp, who threw to third to attempt to pick off Gonzalez instead of looking him back and getting Pedroia out. The result was a throwing error that bounced off a wall into shallow left, allowing both runners to score and Pedroia to reach second. Youkilis would drive him in two at bats later.
The offense was solid tacking on a run here and a run there. The defense was also instrumental in orchestrating another shutout.
Takashi Saito did his best to make it in this section, but no matter how hard he tried to screw up a seven-run lead with two outs and nobody on in the 9th, he couldn’t quite do it. After a walk and a double, Saito messed up while trying to mess up and drew a pop out to left.
“You’re not gonna see him throw a lot of pitches.” – Terry Francona before the game on Paul Byrd (on this and future games).
W: Paul Byrd (1-0)
L: Roy Halladay (13-8)