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Calm down, Red Sox fans. The bats have not been sawed in half.
After netting all of nine hits over the three-game series against the Rays, the Red Sox equaled that amount in the series opener in Kansas City as part of a much-needed 4-3 bounceback victory. Josh Beckett was sharp through seven innings, throwing 77 of 110 pitches for strikes to go with four K’s and no walks. He allowed all three runs on seven hits, including a two-run homer to Alex Gordon in the 3rd inning. Jonathan Papelbon struck out two en route to his 29th save in 30 chances this season.
On the other side, Kansas City starter Luke Hochever had a high pitch count early, but was able to complete six innings with 6 K’s. His 114 pitches set a new season high for the Denver, CO native. The Hochever/Salvador Perez combo allowed four stolen bases, including consecutive steals of second and third by Carl Crawford, his 16th and 17th of the season.
When Ryan Lavarnway was pinch hit for by Lars Anderson in the 7th inning of Wednesday’s game in Pawtucket against Columbus, there was speculation that the big club had made a roster move requiring the slugging catcher to fly to Kansas City. This was confirmed on Thursday afternoon when Kevin Youkilis was placed on the 15-day DL and Lavarnway was placed in the starting lineup, batting seventh. Lavarnway had hit 30 HR to go with a .293 average between Portland and Pawtucket, and even threw out 32% of would-be base stealers in the International League. He went 0-4 with a K in his big league debut.
With Youkilis headed to the DL, Dustin Pedroia batted cleanup, a spot where he has had much success, for the eighth time this season. After his 3-4 performance with 3 RBI, Laser Show is now hitting an even .400 with 3 HR and 8 RBI from the four hole this season. Look for him to stay in that spot at least until David Ortiz can play again (he’s out with bursitis).
The Red Sox will play Game 2 of this series against the Royals Friday night at 8:10 at Kauffman Stadium. Lefty Andrew Miller (4-1) will emerge from his banishment to the bullpen to face fellow lefty Jeff Francis (4-13). Jeff Francis allowed 6 ER in 4 IP in Game 1 of the 2007 World Series, including a leadoff home run in the first inning to Pedroia.