The Red Sox dropped their sixth straight Grapefruit League game Sunday when they fell to the Dodgers, 4-0, in Vero Beach, FL. It marked the fourth consecutive game in which the Sox scored two or fewer runs.
Starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out five in three innings, but he was doomed by a three-run homer he surrendered to Matt Kemp in the first. Matsuzaka, who allowed three hits and walked three and threw 72 pitchers, has a 4.50 ERA over eight innings in three starts.
"He ran into some deep counts where he really didn't need to," Terry Francona told reporters afterward. "During the regular season, we don't want to do that. We want to put guys away when we have a chance."
A quartet of Sox relievers followed Matsuzaka with six hitless innings of relief. Right-handers Bryan Corey and David Aardsma continued to build impressive cases for winning the lone open spot in the bullpen by combining for three shutout innings—two by Corey and one by Aardsma. Corey has a 1.80 ERA in five innings while Aardsma has yet to allow a run in four innings. Neither pitcher has an option left, which means they cannot be assigned to the minor leagues without first being exposed to major league waivers.
Left-hander Jon Switzer tossed a scoreless seventh for the Sox before right-hander Devern Hansack gave up a run on two walks in the eighth.
Offensively, the Sox snapped their streak of three straight games with at least 20 runners stranded, but they still left 12 runners on in the shutout. Doug Mirabelli was the only Sox player with two hits. Alex Cora, David Ortiz and Joe Thurston each had a hit.
The Sox will attempt to snap their losing streak Monday, when they are scheduled to travel to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets. Jon Lester is slated to start for the Sox against the Mets' big-ticket off-season acquisition, Johan Santana, at 1:05 p.m.
No expense spared: Who needs a long bus ride to Vero Beach or Port St. Lucie? The Sox flew to the Dodgers' complex Sunday and will fly again when they visit the Mets Monday. Francona told The Boston Globe the flight Sunday took 23 minutes and that he was appreciative of the expensive gesture by ownership.
Familiar sights and sounds: The Globe reported that "Sweet Caroline" played over the loudspeakers at Holman Stadium following the Dodgers' victory. No surprise, of course, given that Dr. Charles Steinberg left his position as the Sox' executive vice president/public affairs in November to become the Dodgers' chief marketing officer.
While Nomar Garciaparra did not play—the oft-injured ex-Boston icon was nursing a hand injury—ex-Sox reliever Mike Myers threw a perfect eighth inning. Myers is in camp with the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee.
And Bill Mueller, who won the 2003 AL batting championship with the Sox, reportedly stopped by the Sox' clubhouse. Mueller, who signed a two-year deal with the Dodgers after the 2005 season but had to retire in 2006 due to chronic knee issues, is a special assistant for the Dodgers.
Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at email@example.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.
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