Last night was a microcosm of Boston's season. The Sox won a thrilling 3-1 game over the Indians, gained a game on the Yankees, got a stellar performance from Beckett and a great reappearance from Lowell...but lose Youkilis to a freak thumb injury. An injury that could possibly result in a season-ending surgery. The Lord giveth...
But let's focus on the positive first. Josh Beckett, before his untimely ejection in the bottom of the eighth in that benches-clearing incident (more on that in a moment), looked flat-out awesome. Eight innings, one run, three hits, eight strikeouts and no walks. If this is the Beckett we have for the rest of the year, then the Boston rotation could be downright deadly. Paps pitched a clean ninth for his 25th save of the season.
Due to the Youkilis injury, Mike Lowell stepped in to play first. In his first game back, and while a massive standing ovation was still ongoing, Lowell dumped the first pitch he saw into the Monster seats to put Boston up 2-0 in the second. Lowell is, and has always been, a class act. He deserved nothing less than that kind of return. It's just too bad that it came at the expense of Youk hurting his thumb.
Youk is on the 15-day DL right now as Boston tries to figure out what the hell happened. Apparently, tearing your thumb muscle isn't an easy thing to do. So it could be season-ending surgery or minor surgery or who knows what. But losing Youk was a hard blow for Boston. It's great that Lowell had such an immediate impact. And with less than 60 games to go, Lowell should stay pretty fresh if he has to finish the year out. But losing arguably your best position player...that's tough.
Ryan Kalish quietly went 2-3 in the bottom of the order. He has played well in his four games so far; a combined 7-13 with two RBI and a run scored, and no errors so far in the field. If Kalish can continue to play like this, he will build a good case to be part of the roster in 2011 as the fourth outfielder.
So, as usual, Boston's season is in flux. Perhaps the biggest change is that Tampa now sits atop the AL East with the Yanks a game back. New York is in a bit of a skid and I don't see how Kerry Wood, Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns are going to change that. The final two months in the Al East are going to be wild.