AP/Boston Herald photoRED SOX- Josh Beckett rebounded from a tough first inning where he gave up three runs to Tampa Bay to throw five more shutout innings to give the Red Sox their second win of the weekend in Tampa Bay.
The Red Sox tied the game up in the top of the 2nd with a 2-run homer by Mike Aviles off of Rays starter James Shields to make it 3-3.
Although they were able to get Will Middlebrooks as far a 3rd base with nobody out in the top of the 4th, he would be stranded after a strikeout and then having the inning end on a double play. However, Boston would then take the lead on a Daniel Nava solo homer to lead off the top of the 5th, followed by Shields loading the bases before Will Middlebrooks drove home Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Ross to give the Red Sox a 6-3 lead.
Unlike the 4th inning, the Red Sox would manage to take advantage of a leadoff baserunner in the top of the 6th when Jacoby Ellsbury started things off with a single off of Reliever Jake McGee. McGee would then load up the bases- walking Nava and giving up a single to Big Papi- before striking out Adrian Gonzalez. Burke Badenhop would then relieve McGee allow a fly ball to center field off the bat of Cody Ross deep enough to bring Ellsbury home to make it 7-3.
Tampa Bay would make some noise with Alfredo Aceves on the mound and the bases loaded and two away in the bottom of the 9th, but DH Hideki Matsui would fly out to deep right to end the game and give Boston the 7-3 win.
I was pretty much dead on in my answer to a Navajo vendor in Teec Nos Pos, AZ who wanted to know when Ellsbury was coming back when he saw my Red Sox cap. Even though the organization was playing the nature of his injury- let alone his possible return date- close to the vest, I told him 'Look for him to come back to the lineup sometime around the All Star game'. To be honest, I was just guessing and repeating the closest thing to a credible rumor I had heard at the time...yet I was pretty much dead on. Ellsbury went 6 for 14 over the weekend with two strikeouts and a run scored in his first three games back in the lineup.
The Red Sox start off the second half of the regular season by taking two out of three from the Rays in Florida and will return home to face the White Sox and Kevin Youkilis. Since being traded to the south side of Chicago, Youk has gone 16-61 with 3HR and 15 RBI and while his season batting average is still right around .251, he's hitting .295 while wearing the pale hose. Carl Crawford could be starting in the outfield for Boston as early as Monday night as well.
Aaron Cook [2-2; 4.37 ERA] gets the start for Boston on Monday while Dylan Axelrod [1-2; 6.16 ERA] takes to the mound for the ChiSox. The game will be televised on NESN and gets underway at 7:10 ET from Fenway Park.