Skidding No More

The long losing streak is over for the Red Sox, who snapped their seven-game winless skid Tuesday by beating the Mets, 4-3, at City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers, FL.

Sean Casey had two RBI while Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell added an RBI apiece for the Sox, who did all their scoring in the first two innings against losing pitcher Nelson Figueroa. Ramirez was the only Sox player with two hits.

On the mound, Tim Wakefield earned the win despite an inconsistent performance in which he allowed two runs on five hits and three walks with no strikeouts over four innings. Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen, expected to be the closer and top eighth-inning set up man for the Sox this year, were brilliant in relief of Wakefield.

The duo combined for four hitless innings (two apiece) in which they struck out three and walked none. The only blemish on the performance occurred when Delcarmen plunked ex-Sox farmhand Brady Clark with a pitch. Non-roster invitee Dan Kolb allowed a run on two hits and one walk in the ninth but retired the side to earn the save.

The Sox, who were 0-6-1 in their previous seven games, will attempt to further break out of their offensive slump Tuesday when they visit the Twins at Hammond Stadium at 1:05 p.m. for the winner-take-all finale of the Mayor's Cup series. Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start for the Sox, who have scored four runs or fewer in six straight games.


Sayonara to Opening Day for Beckett?: It appears increasingly unlikely that Sox ace Josh Beckett will start against the Athletics on Opening Day in Japan Mar. 25.

Beckett told reporters he felt better and was happier Tuesday than he was Monday—"I got a good night's sleep," he said—but Terry Francona, in separate interviews with a group of Boston media and ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, sounded pessimistic regarding Beckett's chances to make the trip.

"We just want him to be healthy for the long haul," Francona told Boston reporters. "Last year, when he had that avulsion [on his right middle finger], we didn't run him out there when we probably could have, because we didn't think it made sense. In something like this, we'll do the same thing. We'll use good judgment It's not always easy to use good judgment, but it's the right thing to do."

Francona sounded more certain later when he spoke to Stark, though he didn't completely rule Beckett out for Japan. "I don't think we know [for certain] yet," Francona said. "But we're certainly not going to rush him back to pitch a game March [25] if he's not ready. And I think if you look at it with common sense, he's not going to pitch over there."

Jon Lester and Wakefield are the most likely candidates to replace Beckett in Japan. There's still a chance both pitchers could get a start in Japan if Daisuke Matsuzaka's wife does not go into labor before the Sox depart Ft. Myers Mar. 19.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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