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Blue Jays 7 at Red Sox 6

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  • The last time the Blue Jays were victorious against the Red Sox by a score of 7-6, a recap of the game was presented in the form of a comic strip. I'm not nearly that creative, so I'll simply go the old-fashioned route.

    This was a great game from start to finish. What was originally billed as a pitchers' duel quickly transformed in a slugfest in which neither team held onto the lead for very long. In fact, throughout the game the Blue Jays gave up the lead three times, and almost did so again in the bottom of the 9th before B.J. Ryan ultimately sealed the victory.

    This picture doesn't really fit in with anything I typed, but it's a good picture, so I posted it anyways
    AP Photo/Charles Krupa

    The weather didn't play a large role in tonight's game, for the most part. Unlike last night at Fenway Park, an onslaught of heavy rain was fortunately avoided. The field was wet from the light rain that fell during the day, but they certainly weren't unreasonable conditions in which to play. However, they weren't the most comfortable conditions in which to play, since baseball certainly isn't best-suited for cold, slightly wet conditions. As a result, the starting pitchers, Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett, seemed to be affected. In the game thread, Alpheus pointed out that each pitcher's velocity was down, if only slightly.

    After a red-hot start to the season, Beckett has cooled off considerably.

    First three starts:

    ERA     WHIP     W     L     IP     K/BB
    1.29    1.05     3     0     21     12/6

    Last three starts:

    ERA     WHIP     W     L     IP     K/BB
    9.56    1.19     0     1     16     11/10

    He's been unfortunate to allow that many earned runs during his past three starts; anyone who posts an ERA close to 10.00 practially has to be. His control seemed to be slightly off kilter tonight, as evidenced by both the location of his pitches as well as the fact that roughly 40% of his pitches were balls. In some at-bats in particular, he simply couldn't hit his spots. For example, take a look at the location of his pitches against Lyle Overbay in the 2nd inning, courtesy of CBS SportsLine:

    I mean, his last pitch completely missed the strike zone. Perhaps he conceded the walk to Overbay, but the likely culprit was poor control -- especially considering the count was full.

    Halladay wasn't quite on top of his game, either. During tonight's radio broadcast, Jerry Howarth and Warren Sawkiw (pronounced Saw-Cue) surmised that he's not at full health due to his forearm issues. It's likely that he's not at full health, but if he were nursing an injury whose effects would be drastic enough to significantly impact his pitching, I'd like to think that either he or the team would have the sense to rest his injured forearm rather than potentially exacerbating the matter.

    Halladay's control seemed to be intact, and he was probably unlucky to have surrendered as many runs as he did. He managed to keep the ball down in the strike zone and induce a fair number of groundballs, but the Red Sox managed to mount an admirable offensive attack regardless.

    Charts of his pitches against the Red Sox are listed below. They're organized in terms of balls in play, balls, and strikes, in that order.

    Incredibly, only three of his pitches were high, and none of those were even above the strike zone! It's no wonder he consistently produces grouball out after groundball out.

  • Alexis Rios had yet another multi-hit game, and this season he's had nine of them. He's played 20 games in which he's had more than one at-bat, and he's had multiple hits in almost half of those. That's remarkable considering his preseason projections.

    However, one mental lapse occurred in the 5th inning against the Red Sox. With two men on -- Rios at second, Frank Catalanotto at first -- he sprinted for third and was thrown out by Jason Varitek. The real kicker was that it wasn't even a double steal. It was an entirely unnecessary stolen base attempt whose potential reward certainly didn't warrant its immediate risk.

  • Some Blue Jays defensive gems in tonight's game:

    In the bottom of the 5th, Troy Glaus caught a foul ball in very much the same style Willie Mays made "The Catch" a half century ago. In fact, Howarth and Sawkiw actually compared it to that exact play, though somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

    In the 8th, Aaron Hill made a fine defensive grab on a Kevin Youkilis groundball.

    In the 9th, Eric Hinske, who surprisingly hasn't been dreadful in the field this season, made a nice diving grab to take a base hit away from Manny Ramirez.

  • B.J. Ryan was terrific tonight. On a team with seemingly countless bullpen concerns, Ryan is one of the few reliable options. He hasn't allowed a run in 13.1 innings, has struck out 13 batters, and has posted a microscopic WHIP of 0.38. Sure he's an incredibly expensive player -- especially relative to other relief pitchers -- but at least the Blue Jays are paying for value. He's certainly not the second coming of Randy Myers.

    Meanwhile, Jonathan Papelbon, who hadn't allowed a run in 19 consecutive appearances (21.1 IP) dating back to last season, had his impressive run come to an end against the Blue Jays. Russ Adams, whose OPS is a mighty .578, put that streak to an end when he hit the game-winning double in the top of the 9th.

  • The Blue Jays are now half a game behind both the Red Sox and Yankees, who are tied atop the AL East standings. Things are becoming interesting, no doubt about it.

    Celebrating the victory after a nerve-racking 9th
    AP Photo/Charles Krupa