With one out in the ninth inning yesterday and the Red Sox trailing by a run, Doug Mirabelli stepped to the plate. It wasn't necessarily because of his 2-for-2 history against Blue Jays closer Jeremy Accardo. It had more to do with the right thumb injury Jason Varitek sustained in Saturday night's game, when he and Daisuke Matsuzaka got crossed up and Varitek took a pitch off his bare hand.
So manager Terry Francona wasn't tempted to use his starting catcher as a pinch hitter, preferring to keep him safely on the bench in anticipation of a return to the lineup tonight. (Mirabelli grounded out to shortstop.) Not that Varitek wasn't prepared.
"As a player, you still want to be ready in case something happens," Varitek said. "A guy gets on second base with one out, I wanted to be available. But I had to take the day off from hitting and doing all that stuff earlier in the day just to try and get some more swelling out of it. I mean, when [Francona] looked at it beforehand, he was like, 'Oh, crap.' "
Mirabelli started for the fourth time this season when knuckleballer Tim Wakefield didn't pitch. He hit a one-out double in the fifth but was stranded on second.
"It's painful," said Varitek. "Playing my position there's always something hurting."
Varitek left the park with his thumb in a black bandage. The thumb was drained, iced, and had pressure applied to it to try to ease the swelling. X-rays were negative.
"He's OK," Francona said. "He had a long night [Saturday]. He got beat around a little bit. So, with the quick turnaround, it just seemed to make sense to try to give him a little bit of a blow. He took that one ball pretty hard off the thumb. He's sore."
Elements at play
With the wind swirling hard enough to rock the flagpole in center field -- winds were announced at 21 miles per hour at game time -- both teams experienced a few adventures in the outfield. Manny Ramírez
was spun around on a ball to the left-field corner, leading to a Jason Phillips
double to start the fifth. Blue Jays right fielder Alex Rios
misplayed a David Ortiz
fly ball in the sixth, scoring the Sox' only run. "It was crazy for a while," Mike Lowell
said. "I think it helped us get one run there. I was a little disappointed because usually hitters want the wind blowing out, but I thought that my ball that I hit foul [in the sixth] was about 20 rows back, and then I see the catcher make a great play." . . . Francona announced a slight change to Curt Schilling's
side session today. Instead of throwing a side, followed by one inning to hitters, Schilling will throw two innings to hitters. He will throw about the same number of pitches as he would have otherwise. The tentative plan is for Schilling to have another side session Wednesday, with a possible rehab start Saturday.
Both Ramírez and Ortiz continued to heat up at the plate, with two singles for Ramírez and a single and a double for Ortiz. Ramirez was 6 for 16 in the series with seven RBIs. Ortiz went 8 for 17 to raise his average to .323 . . . Francona reiterated that he's hopeful J.D. Drew
will be back in the lineup tonight, after leaving Friday night's game with tightness in his right hamstring . . . Dustin Pedroia
and Alex Cora
were both sick over the All-Star break. Cora got the start at second, hitting a double and scoring. Pedroia pinch hit in the seventh and grounded out to third . . . The Red Sox have yet to sign their second pick in the draft, shortstop Ryan Dent
(taken 62d overall), despite indications three weeks ago that the parties would come to a quick agreement. The Sox are hoping that a deal will get done in the next couple of weeks . . . Lefthander Nick Hagadone
, the Sox' first draft pick, was supposed to make his professional debut last night for Single A Lowell, but the game was rained out. Righthander Clay Buchholz
is scheduled to make his Triple A debut with Pawtucket tonight.
A striking number
With eight strikeouts, Josh Beckett
reached 100 for the season . . . Before yesterday, the Sox had the majors' best winning percentage in day games at .741 (20-7). Beckett had been 4-0 in day starts this season . . . The Sox have lost six straight one-run games, falling to 14-14 in such games this season . . . Royals righthander John Thomson
(back stiffness) was scratched from tomorrow night's start against the Sox. The Royals have not named a replacement . . . When asked about a Nick Cafardo
story in yesterday's Globe about agent Scott Boras's
concern over Matsuzaka's high pitch counts, Francona quipped, "I've got a lot of respect for Scott. I really do. He can run the pitching when he lets me run the contracts. How's that?"
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.
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