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Game Report: Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins

May 12, 2008 | By Daniel Olson | comment on this post

Crafty veteran Tim Wakefield wasn’t so crafty on Sunday. Wakefield’s knuckler was not quite knuckling enough, and the Red Sox fell to the Twins 9-8, losing for the second time in three tries against the Twins this weekend.

Wakefield only lasted 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs — six earned — raising his ERA on the season to 4.25. The Red Sox bats heated up briefly with one run in the third and three in the fourth, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the Twins in check, giving up runs in the fourth and the seventh innings. The Sox scored twice more in the seventh on Kevin Youkilis’ two run double, as the Youk-dog continued his torrid May similar to what he did last season. He’s batting .359 so far this month, with five doubles, six homers, ten runs, 14 RBI and six walks. It’ll do. Of course, the Greek God of Walks hit over .400 with six dingers last May, so he’s clearly a May man.

The BoSox entered the top of the ninth down three runs against the usually unhittable Joe Nathan and made some noise. They quickly collected three hits and scored two runs, but stranded the tying runner on base as Nathan was able to barely escape out of the inning for his 12th save of the season.

The win pushed the surprising Twins to 19-17 on the season, one game ahead of Cleveland for first in the AL Central, while the Sox fell to 24-16 with their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays shrinking to only 1.5 games. That’s right, the Rays. Seriously. I’m not joking. And it’s May.

Fantasy Factors

Youkilis has been putting on a rare display of power and production with an OPS of 1384 for the month and it looks like he might be on his way to becoming a top five fantasy first baseman. He went 2-for-5 on Sunday to raise his overall average to .319 on the season. Continue to ride Youkilis’ hot bat, but don’t be surprised if his power numbers start to level out as he is not typically known for the long ball (last season, he hit a career-best 16). May is clearly his month, so either start him on your team or sell him while his stock is high.

The real David Ortiz is finally starting to show up. After a dismal April in which he batted under the Mendoza Line at .198, Big Papi currently sits at .241 on the year, thanks to a .368 mark for the month of May. And to think Sox fans were worried! Ortiz currently has seven homers and 28 ribbies, and with his batting average still being lower than usual, you might be able to steal him from other owners. Big Papi just had a bad month, but trust me when I say…actually, when I guarantee…he will finish with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so when September comes around.

Wakefield finally put up a serious stinker. Prior to Sunday’s game, his worst outing was an eight inning performance in which he gave up five runs. Normally, he does very well in the Metrodome, heading in with a career mark of 7-3 with a 3.95 ERA. Owners shouldn’t be worried though, because from time to time the knucklers are going to get rocked. Half the time, they don’t even know where their pitch is going to end up. I wouldn’t start Wakefield unless you have a big time pitcher on the DL, in which case he is a nice fill in. Otherwise, his 27 Ks to 23 BB is not enough to make up for the fact that he’s a good source of Ws, likely headed for 15 wins on the season.

Joe Mauer is being outhomered by Ichiro Suzuki right now, 2-0. Now, that’s no knock on Ichiro as we all know he has some power, but the point is Mauer is batting in the three hole for the Twins and while he is hitting a superb .330, one would think he would have at least one dinger by now. He is sporting an excellent .409 OBP with a modest 15 RBI, and he went 1-for-4 again on Sunday, continuing a solid May. Mauer is one of the best catchers in the game, so obviously start him and hope he begins to mash a few home runs and produce some more RBI.

Craig Monroe went 2-for-4 with a grand slam in Sunday’s contest, raising his average to .284 on the year. Despite having a nice game, do not count on Monroe as he is a streaky hitter who is currently splitting time at DH for the Twins.

Justin Morneau’s average isn’t quite where we want it to be yet (.284), but he took a step in the right direction on Sunday, going 3-for-3 with a walk. Canada’s finest has a respectable six home runs on the season to go along with his 27 RBI, but has yet to go yard and has only produced five RBI so far this month . He is going to give you plenty of power, but unless he gets that batting average and OBP up a little bit, it might be worth looking at another option for first base.

Manny Ramirez, nursing a sore hammy, got the day off, but the fact that he pinch-hit in the ninth suggests he’ll be okay. Hopefully some down time with help ManRam redisover his early-season stroke. A 1-for-15 skid has him under .300 for the first time since April 15. Contract year, baby!

Mike Lamb enjoyed a nice weekend, going 5-for-9, but please remind me why the Twins signed this guy again? A 556 OPS? Uh, right. And the Twins actually believed this dude could be an everyday player.

With Manny sitting, Jacoby Ellsbury shifted over and handled left field. He took an 0-for-4, capping an ugly 1-for-12 weekend. The rook is playing, but not hitting particularly well so far this season. Coco Crisp, meanwhile, was in centrefield for the second straight day, and he went yard for the second straight game. He also tripled, stole a base and drove in three runs on Sunday. It’s about time to consider Crisp as a fantasy option, in AL-only leagues at the very least. He’s earned more PT, and if Ellsbury keeps flailing, Crisp will get it.

Matt Tolbert, an early season revelation, continues to struggle. He’s been playing second with Brendan Harris nursing a sore right hamstring, so Adam Everett has been manning short. But Everett hasn’t exactly taken his chance and run with it. He was 1-for-4 Sunday to get back to .200 on the year. Woo hoo! I’d say Tolbert needs not worry, about Everett at least.

Alex Cora returned from a DL stint because of his elbow. He’s been out almost a month, and got the start at short, lashing three hits, including a double. With Julio Lugo still dealing with the after effects of his concussion, and Jed Lowrie sent back to the minors, Cora could see some action this week.

Rookie Nick Blackburn earned the win for the Twins. He wasn’t overly sharp, giving up nine hits and four runs in six innings, but he walked just one and struck out five — his most in over a month. Blackburn is now over .500, but his ERA is approaching 4.00. He’s a decent option in deep AL-only leagues, but because of his lack of Ks, he’s best used in 4×4 leagues.

Mike Timlin appeared in his 1,032nd career game, moving him past Lee Smith and Jose Mesa into eighth place all-time. Unfortunately, after a solid 2007 campaign, the 42-year-old righty looks to be on his last legs, having giving up 16 hits and ten runs in nine innings this year. Start watching for a passing ice floe to toss the oldtimer onto.

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