Biggest factors in Red Sox' romp are easy to see
Back in his native Florida, family and friends didn't get to watch Kason Gabbard pitch in yesterday's 11-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. The local Fox affiliate in West Palm Beach showed Mets-Dodgers instead. And when Fox cut away, it was not to feature Gabbard but Barry Bonds, whom the network fancies to have more national appeal than a kid who was first-team all-conference at Indian River Community College.
Also shut out were the folks in Southern California who might have liked to have seen native son Coco Crisp, who to his teachers at Pierce Junior College was known as Covelli.
Too bad. While Curt Schilling, the pride of Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College, tossed three scoreless innings for Pawtucket in his first rehab start, a significant step in what the Sox hope will be a re entry into the division race, Gabbard -- who in an earlier era would have been called "Gabby" because he's anything but -- held the White Sox to three hits and a run in seven innings. That was a splendid encore to the three-hit shutout Gabbard tossed at the Royals last Monday night, and deserving of the standing ovation he received from the crowd of 36,283 at Fenway Park after he'd warmed up at the start of the eighth, before he was taken out.
The entire Gabbard family wasn't blacked out. His mother and father drove up, his brother Kyle and sister-in-law Stacy and niece Addison unexpectedly showed up, and he was in for another surprise when he got a knock at the door of the hotel room in which he and his girlfriend are staying. "I was about to yell, because I thought it was the cleaning lady," Gabbard said. "But it was my youngest sister, Katie-Jo."
Gabbard has now won his first five career starts at home, only the third Sox pitcher to do so. Dave "Boo" Ferriss did it in 1945, while George Winter did it in 1901. Winter gave away nothing to Ferriss in the nickname category. He was known as "Sassafras," and was also a participant in what historians have called the first on-field fight (1903) between the Yankees and Sox (or the Highlanders and Americans, as they were known).
"Very important, meaningful, and exciting," said Sox manager Terry Francona of Gabbard, who did not go to a three-ball count until the seventh inning, when he also issued his only walk, to Jermaine Dye.
Crisp, meanwhile, who had drawn pregame raves from Francona for his fielding ("This guy's defense has been phenomenal, as good a center field as you're going to see"), matched his career high with five RBIs, two in a seven-run seventh, Boston's biggest inning of the season. Crisp has become an RBI machine of late, driving in five runs twice in 16 days (also against Tampa Bay July 5) and collecting 16 RBIs in his last 14 games.
A Chicago relief threesome of Wassermann, Logan, and Day -- sounds like the kind of law firm that Bonds might one day need, especially in light of reports that the grand jury investigating the Giants slugger has been extended another six months -- collaborated to walk five consecutive batters in the seventh, forcing home three runs. Crisp drove home two more with his third single of game, and two more scored on a triple by Eric Hinske, who had started the inning with a pinch single while batting for Wily Mo Peña, whose afternoon didn't go much better than that of the Chicago bullpen.
Peña misplayed Paul Konerko's sinking liner into a double in the second -- Konerko would score on Josh Fields's double -- and hit into a first-pitch double play after Crisp had singled home two runs off White Sox rookie John Danks in the second.
"We walk that many people and didn't even come close to throwing strikes," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You will never see me criticize my bullpen or any of my pitching staff when they are getting hit. That's an easy way to have a rough day.
"I can't even say it's disappointing anymore. I think it was funny. We are on national TV. I was making fun of Coop [pitching coach Don Cooper]. I said, 'When you go out there, make sure they know who is the pitching coach of the ball club.' "
Hinske, who jump-started a four-run rally Friday night with a bunt single, led off the seventh with his pinch single to right off righthander Ehren Wassermann. He stole second as Julio Lugo struck out, and remained there when Dustin Pedroia was called out on strikes. But Wassermann then walked Manny Ramírez and Kevin Youkilis to load the bases, left hander Boone Logan entered and walked J.D. Drew to force in a run, and right hander Dewon Day walked Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek, the latter in a 12-pitch at-bat.
When Crisp and Hinske followed with their hits, the Sox were in double digits for the second straight game, even without David Ortiz. The DH underwent a pregame MRI, is day to day with a strained left shoulder, and is not expected to play today. "Structurally he's fine, and so are we," Francona said.
The Sox are trying to finish this 11-game homestand, their longest of the season, by taking three of four from Chicago. They've split the first 10 games and are 7 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees in the American League East after New York swept a day-night doubleheader from the Devil Rays last night in the Bronx.
And now Schilling, who has not pitched since June 18, is on the horizon. Francona was late for his postgame media session because he was listening to a voice mail from Schilling. That's a time-consuming task, as Francona acknowledged.
"It was very, very good," Francona said of Schilling's six-strikeout effort. "Not just from his account, but from everyone who was there and saw it. Very impressive. We're excited. I think we all thought that's what we would see. We had a lot of people watching."
Gordon Edes can be reached at email@example.com.