Mark J. Terrill- APRED SOX- In a matchup that some of the more hyperbole-prone broadcasters were dubbing a World Series Preview, the Red Sox dealt the Los Angeles Dodgers their first series loss in more than two months. The TV coverage seemed to reflect some of this hype, with two out of the three games in the weekend series getting national TV coverage.
Despite John Lackey pitching a complete game and allowing only three hits in Friday night's series opener, one of those hits was a 2-run Hanley Ramirez homer and Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco managed shut out the Red Sox. LA took the series opener by a 2-0 final.
In Saturday afternoon's game, the Red Sox jumped all over Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first thanks to a Mike Napoli RBI single and Johnny Gomes 3-run homer to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead. Ryu would settle down, and that would be all the Red Sox offense would get. However, Lester would go 7⅓ innings and giving up three hits, an earned run [that Junichi Tazawa inherited when he gave up a 2-RBI double to former Red Sox infielder Adrian Gonzalez in the bottom of the 8th- NANESB!]. After Craig Breslow struggled, Koji Uehara came on in the bottom of the 8th for a 4-out save, sealing the Red Sox 4-2 win.
Sunday's series finale was nationally televised on ESPN and had Jake Peavy go up against Springfield, MA native Chris Capuano. Mike Napoli got the Red Sox on the board in the first with a ground rule double, and despite loading the bases, Capuano was able to escape the first without any further damage. Another run came home in the 3rd on a Pedroia sac fly and in the top of the 4th, Xander Bogaerts was credited with his first big league RBI after doubling to right center to make it 3-0.
However, Gonzalez would get the Dodgers on the board with a solo homer, but that would be all LA was getting. Not only was Peavy Dealing, he was getting plenty of run support in his complete-game gem in Los Angeles.
Capuano left the game after five innings and the Red Sox batters would just tee off of Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow. Saltalamacchia would belt a 2-run homer in the 6th, followed by a solo homer from Victorino in the 7th to make it 6-1 Boston. For good measure, Mike Napoli tacked on a 2-run homer in the top of the 9th and Peavy decided to give the bullpen the night off and close out the Dodges himself in the bottom of the 9th.
So for the first time since mid-June, the torrid Dodgers have lost a series. Although Boston missed Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers didn't get to see Clay Buchholz, this series still had a number of sports commentators hinting that this was a 'World Series in August' matchup. Interestingly, Big Papi was only in one of this weekend's games, going 0-3 in Friday night's loss while playing first base.
Monday was a travel day, but for Tuesday night, the Red sox will return home to face the Baltimore Orioles. Felix Doubront [9-6; 3.79 ERA] is scheduled to get the start against Baltimore's Wei Yin Chan [7-6; 3.19 ERA] with first pitch scheduled for 7:10. The game will be televised on NESN.
ELSEWHERE IN THE AL EAST- While the Red Sox were travelling on Monday afternoon, they got a little help from the Kansas City Royals. The Tampa Bay Rays had to fly out of Kauffman Stadium to play a game against the slumping Royals that was postponed in early May due to snowfall. Kansas City got off to an early 1-0 lead on a Billy Butler RBI single off of Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson in the first and broke it open in the 4th before going on to win by an 11-1 final. The win is only the Royal's second in 7 games, but put Tampa Bay an additional ½ game behind the Red Sox in a tight race for the AL East pennant.
NEW YORK METS- Mets phenom pitcher Matt Harvey is likely to miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with a partial ligament tear in his right shoulder. Harvey has a 9-5 record this season with a 2.27 ERA, although he was outduelled by Tigers starter Max Scherzer in his last start.
The struggling Mets are 58-71 and next to last in the NL East, meaning that even if Harvey's injury wasn't as serious as feared, he still would be sidelined as a precaution since the Mets are well out of any pennant or wild card chase.
NCAA FOOTBALL- College football in New England gets underway a little earlier than usual with UConn hosting FCS opponent Towson at East Hartford's Rentschler Field on Thursday night with a 7:30 kickoff
The other two New England FBS programs will kick off on Saturday, Aug 31st, with the UMASS season opener likely drawing the most national eyes as they open on the road against the #23 ranked Wisconsin Badgers in Madison's Camp Randall stadium.
Meanwhile, the BC Eagles will host Villanova from the FCS's Colonial Conference on Saturday at noon on Chestnut Hill.