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Fresh of being spurned by Johnny Damon, the Red Sox entered Friday 5.5 games back of the Yankees and Rays in the AL East and Wild Card. Damon was not in the lineup. Neither was Manny Ramirez, who was claimed by the Sox (the ones in Chicago) earlier in the day. So, it looks like what you see with the Red Sox lineup (one without Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury) is what you get.
Coming off the worst start of his career, Jon Lester turned in a dominant performance on Friday night in one of the biggest games this year for the Red Sox. Lester allowed just one unearned run over seven innings. He was throwing all over the strike zone, and out of it, as he finished with just two hits allowed with five walks and 10 strikeouts. Terry Francona turned to Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, who despite some trouble in the ninth, slammed the door on the Rays for the 3-1 victory.
Perhaps the biggest story of the game was Victor Martinez, who clocked two home runs off Rays All-Star lefty David Price, who may be in line to win the Cy Young Award. Victor finished 3-4 in all, and knocked in two of the three runs on those two solo shots. The Sox scored their other run on an RBI single by Jed Lowrie in the fourth inning.
Darnell McDonald, who tripled, was the unsung hero of the game (as usual). He came up with a clutch outfield assist, gunning down B.J. Upton at home plate. Upton would have tied the game at 2, but instead he was out, and Martinez homered the next half inning to give the Sox a key insurance run.
In a contract year, Martinez has a lot to play for the rest of the way. He had a tough time for a while trying to find his way back from his hand and foot injuries, but if Friday’s performance is any indication, he should be able to step up the rest of the way.
Hall has had a very surprising season, but Friday was not one of his better nights. He finished 0-3 with three strikeouts.
W: Jon Lester (14-8)
L: David Price (15-6)
SV: Jonathan Papelbon (33)