Notes: Francona said he wanted to use Cora against Garza because he hits right-handed fastball pitchers better than Jed Lowrie.
Francona was asked before the game about backup catcher Kevin Cash, who catches Tim Wakefield. The Red Sox, he said, have had problems finding a catcher who can handle the knuckleball.
“We saw John Flaherty retire. Flash came over to me that first game in Fort Myers, we were playing the Twins, and he looked like a deer in the headlights, and the next day he came and got me off the treadmill and said, ‘I cannot imagine doing this every five days.’ And he retired.
“We saw a very good backup catcher in Josh Bard get beat up. And Josh Bard was still a very good catcher, and it was hard to handle Wake. That’s why Mirabelli, he had an unbelievable ability to catch that ball. It’s not easy. Some days there’s balls that are going to go to the backstop. That’s just part of the way it is. There are going to be stolen bases, there’s going to be wild pitches. There’s going to be passed balls, but the good part of that is you look up in the seventh and he usually gives you a chance to win.”
UPDATE, 3:48 p.m.: Phil Hughes is facing Max Scherzer today in the AFL. You can follow the game here if you are interested.
UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.: More solid work today for Hughes: 5 4 1 1 1 3. In two AFL starts, he has allowed one run over 10 innings and struck out 10. He has been working on his cutter and it appears to be a pitch he can move forward with.
Just my opinion, but the Yankees would be making a tremendous mistake to trade Hughes. The AFL is going to give him a nice springboard to 2009.
Meanwhile Jason Varitek is just killing Boston. It’s going to be very, very interesting to see what they do with him when he becomes a free agent. Theo Epstein is cold-blooded when it comes to making tough decisions and deciding whether to keep Varitek will be a tough call.
UPDATE, 5:27 p.m.: With both of these teams in the division, it’s hard not to watch these games and not think about the Yankees.
Now, granted, the Rays have benefitted from having so many high draft picks. But watching guys like B.J. Upton reminds you that the Yankees have to draft and develop players with that sort of athletic ability. How Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson come along could really change the Yankees for the better.
UPDATE, 7:26 p.m.: Upton and Longoria have nine HRs this postseason, a record for teammates under 25. The old record of six by Darryl Strawberry and Lenny Dykstra for the ’86 Mets. Upton just turned 24 and Longoria just turned 23.
Longoria is going to be the best player in the division very soon.
UPDATE, 7:35 p.m: Rocco Baldelli just crushed a three-run homer over the wall in left field to give Tampa an 8-1 lead and send assorted members of Red Sox nation scurrying for the exits. Good for him. Baldelli has missed most of the season because of a rare disease that saps his strength.
He is the fourth native of Rhode Island to homer in the postseason. Can anybody guess the first three?
UPDATE, 7:54 p.m.: Tampa Bay has scored 18 runs on 25 hits â€“ seven of them home runs â€“ in the last two games of the series. Those members of the Nation sober enough to walk have left the park at this point.
Tampa Bay has scored 18 runs on 25 hits â€“ seven of them home runs â€“ in the last two games of the series.