Well, we finally received the official sign that winter's over - my first sunburn of the year. I don't know why I always forget to put sunblock on when I go to baseball games, especially since I know that I always burn if I'm out in the sun for more than an hour or two. Anyways, Pawtucket lost to Rochester 3-2 in a very quick and mostly well-played ball game.
Bill Haselman hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox organization since 1997 - a laser to left field - to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the second inning. I'm not sure why Haselman doesn't have a major league job (surely he could be a backup catcher for some team), but it's nice to see him back with the Red Sox. He only hit 19 homers in his three years in Boston, but I seem to remember at least a few game winners.
Pawtucket's lead did not last long, as Rochester scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Michael Restovich scored two of those runs after hitting ground-rule doubles in the third and fifth. With Restovich, Michael Ryan and Todd Sears in Rochester and Michael Cuddyer, Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr and Matthew LeCroy in Minnesota, it's amazing how many corner outfield/1B/DH types the Twins have who could hit in the majors.
Freddy Sanchez looked pretty good at the plate for the Red Sox, slapping singles all over the place - one to each part of the outfield - and drawing a walk to reach base in each of his four trips to the plate. He also looked smooth on defense - especially on two double plays - but he did make a mistake on the basepaths, getting thrown out at second after Rochester catcher Brandon Marsters had trouble handling a pitch.
Julio Zuleta is pretty much just as advertised - big, strong and slow. He struck out in his first two at-bats before hitting a screaming single to the centerfield wall to drive in Pawtucket's second run in the sixth. Unfortunately, he overestimated his speed (or underestimated his slowness) and was easily thrown out at second. Even if he had made it, he would have been out after he had trouble putting on the brakes and tumbled a few feet past the base.
So the PawSox lost, but I'll take a Pawtucket loss and a Boston win every day of the week (and twice on Sundays if they still scheduled doubleheaders). Derek Lowe was good enough to pick up his third win of the season, but he's still not where I thought he'd be this year (not that I expected him to repeat last year's success). He pitched five innings without giving up an earned run, but he did allow two unearned runs and 10 baserunners via walk or hit. He came out after throwing 104 pitches and the bullpen cruised the rest of the way. Jason Shiell pitched three shutout innings and Brandon Lyon allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth. As David Pinto points out the Boston bullpen has been dominant since Ramiro Mendoza's last appearance.
The OBP offense continued to excel, banging eight hits while drawing seven walks and getting hit by two pitches - one of which annoyed Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox scored five runs in the third, the 14th time this year they've scored at least three runs in an inning.
Boston has now won six straight games, the longest winning streak in the majors.