At game-time, you may have thought this was one of those games that was destined to go into the loss column. On the mound for the Blue Jays was perennial Cy Young contender Roy Halladay...toeing the rubber for the Red Sox was 38-year-old Paul Byrd—who hadn’t pitched in a major league game since last September with the Red Sox.
Yes. Except it was the Toronto Blue Jays that were handed their lunch.
After spending the early summer throwing batting practice to his son’s Little League team, Byrd shut down the often-pesky Jays on just three hits over six shutout innings. He walked three and struck out one batter. Amazingly, all three hits against him were to leadoff batters...yet the Jays did not score as they were 0-for-7 with RISP.
Afterwards, Byrd said: “I was throwing to a 13 and under team and the Red Sox called and I said, ‘I don’t know how long I’ll take to get ready’. I’m just so excited to be back. I want a World Series ring. Hopefully I can help this team get there. I’ll clean toilets if I have to, and I told them that.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said: “I think he missed competing. He’s with a team fighting for their playoff life, so he gets to be a part of that, which I think he enjoys”.
The Red Sox scored single runs off Halladay in each of the first four innings.
Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis hit back-to-back two-out doubles in the first inning to jump out to a 1-0 lead.
Rocco Baldelli doubled the lead in the second inning with a home run into the Green Monster seats, extending the team’s club-record to 50 homers for the month.
The Sox increased their to 3-0 in the third inning when Dustin Pedroia doubled, advanced a base on Martinez’ groundout and then scored on a Youkilis sac fly.
Alex Gonzalez drove home J.D. Drew (single) with a two-out RBI-single in the fourth inning to extend the lead even further.
A throwing error by Toronto reliever Shawn Camp allowed two runs to score in the seventh inning...Youkilis drove home a third run with an RBI-single to account for the final score of 7-0.
Manny Delcarmen, Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito each pitched a scoreless inning of relief to close out the game.
For Wagner, it was his Red Sox debut. He struck out the side in the eighth inning (allowing a double in the process).
But the story of the game was Byrd, who pumped his fist into his glove after striking out Adam Lind to end the fifth with a runner on second. Of the demonstration of emotion, Byrd said: “I just wanted to get through five (innings), plus that was my first strikeout in 11 months”.
Toronto SS Marco Scutaro was back in the lineup after leaving Friday’s game following a beaning by Josh Beckett.
Toronto has lost eight straight at Fenway Park, including all six thus far in 2009. They return for three more games in the regular season’s final week.