With B game, Masterson gets A for effort
What Terry Francona likes about Justin Masterson is the veteran inside the rookie - the stuff that allows a pitcher who doesn't have his best stuff to battle and come away with a respectable outing.
Masterson pitched six innings against the Diamondbacks last night, and if he didn't hang a sinker that Chad Tracy hit for a three-run homer in the third inning, he would likely have come away with a win.
"That's the only thing I was really upset about," said Masterson following the Sox' 5-4 win. "I was really happy to see Chris Smith go out there, hold them at bay until the offense could turn around and say, 'Here we go, we're taking the lead.' And Pap does what he does, shuts the door. Simple as that."
Francona sized up Masterson's outing: "On a night when he didn't have his best stuff, he really competed. He ended up going out there for six innings. He didn't give in. He seemed like he'd get a couple of outs and there'd be a lot of runners on base but he never gave in. It ends up being enough on a night when he didn't have his best stuff."
Masterson said he was able to move on from Tracy's homer and "keep making my pitches, and that's what we try to do, keep the team in the game. I thought it was a little more crisp over the last couple of innings. I don't know why, but it was."
Masterson said he felt fine and strong the entire game, but "there were a couple of times in the stretch where I think we were just leaking a little bit. The arm was dragging, let some balls do what we didn't want them to do, which is a problem I go through every once in a while.
"I'm not perfect. I'm trying to be, but I'm not."
Masterson went six innings for the sixth time in seven outings, and cracked the 100-pitch mark (101) for the first time. On the negative side, he allowed a season-high 7 hits and tied season highs in walks (4) and runs (4).
"I thought Masterson, especially against some lefties, they had some pretty healthy swings," Francona said.
Cameo appearanceIt appeared Kevin Youkilis was going to get the night off after the errant throw Monday night left his eye swollen and watery. Youkilis, who was examined by an eye specialist yesterday, came in defensively in the ninth inning for Brandon Moss, sporting protective glasses. He was sporting a good-sized bump under the eye, and Francona said if he had any vision problems or blurriness, he would not have allowed him to go out there. Before the game, Francona said Youkilis had blurriness, but that evidently subsided Mike Lowell's two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning raised his average in close and late situations to .444 (16 for 36), with 11 RBIs. "You're up there in that situation and you want to do something," said Lowell. "You can feel the crowd and the momentum we have and you don't want to end that after we've battled so hard in the game and after our pitching staff did such a great job to get us back."
Crime watchMajor League Baseball has not received a specific complaint about the Red Sox being victims of sign stealing, but the Phillies have been investigated for this in the past. The Sox played the Phillies last week, and one major league official thought the Phillies were taking Boston's signs. The Sox won two out of three in Philadelphia. Sox general manager Theo Epstein had no comment on the topic . . . Coco Crisp was still awaiting word on his appeal of a seven-game suspension. MLB executive vice president John McHale, who will rule on the matter, apparently hasn't gathered all of the evidence from the Tampa side yet, so a ruling isn't expected until he's done that either late today or early tomorrow . . . Francona said David Ortiz will hit off a tee today in front of the medical staff to determine the best approach to moving forward on Ortiz's wrist injury. Ortiz will make the upcoming trip to Houston, Tampa Bay, and New York and will at some point take batting practice . . . The Sox will go slow with Bartolo Colon, who is recovering from back spasms. He will stay behind while the team is away.
Classic reunionDennis Eckersley and Kirk Gibson, the principals in the famous ending to Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, spent almost an hour talking to each other before the game. Gibson is now bench coach for the Diamondbacks under Bob Melvin and Eckersley is a NESN analyst. "It's not one I like to remember," said Eckersley. "But it was interesting talking to Kirk about a bunch of things. He's always interesting." . . . "Jerry Remy Day," in celebration of Remy's 20 years in broadcasting with the Sox, was a smashing success at the park. Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, and Rick Burleson were among the ex-teammates in attendance. Also, former broadcast partners Bob Kurtz and Sean McDonough were on hand, as was Remy's former hitting coach in Boston, Walt Hriniak . . . Last night's 36-minute rain delay at the start marked the third straight game that has been, the fourth in five games on this homestand . . . Diamondbacks starter Doug Davis is 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts vs. American League teams . . . Last night was the Sox' 19th come-from-behind win this year and their first victory ever against the Diamondbacks at Fenway.
Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com