Tuesday night's matchup of the league's two highest-scoring offenses at Fenway Park predictably produced a slugfest, as the Red Sox and Rangers tied an AL record with 36 combined runs in the wildest game of the season. You know it's a crazy game when a team explodes for a 10-run first inning, trails in the sixth inning, and then has their closer on the mound to slam the door on a win. And that doesn't even come close to doing justice to what took place.
David Ortiz returned from a one-game absence in style by smacking a pair of three-run homers in the first inning, tying the AL record for one inning with six RBIs and becoming the fifth player to homer twice in the opening frame. Boston did all that damage against Scott Feldman, who amazingly became just the second pitcher since 1900 to remain in the game after a 10-run first inning, tossing two more frames and allowing two more runs without even figuring in the decision.
Neither did Charlie Zink, who despite being handed a 10-run lead after one frame couldn't pick up a win in his major-league debut, getting yanked with two outs in the fifth inning and two runners on base with the Red Sox up 12-6. Texas did further damage against Javier Lopez and David Aardsma, and then took a 15-14 lead with a five-run sixth inning. Boston stormed back with four eighth-inning runs off Frank Francisco and Jonathan Papelbon narrowly escaped a scary ninth.
A dozen players had at least two hits, including five apiece from Dustin Pedroia and Marlon Byrd. Mike Lowell left with a strained oblique that may send him to the disabled list. Kevin Youkilis made errors at both first base and third base after sliding across the diamond to replace him, but also homered twice and drove in five runs. Along with his two first-inning homers, Ortiz reached base in five of his six trips to the plate, officially ending his slump.
Feldman and Zink combined to allow 20 runs while recording 21 outs, and Feldman became the first pitcher since 1918 to avoid a loss while allowing a dozen runs (amusingly, the last guy to do it actually got the win). Texas became the fourth team since 1900 to lose while scoring at least 17 runs and Boston blew a double-digit lead for just the second time in franchise history. Oh, and Paul Byrd watched the whole mess just hours after the Indians traded him to the Red Sox.
While Zink's hideous debut potentially opens the door for Clay Buchholz to remain in the rotation despite Byrd's arrival, here are some other notes from around baseball .
* Gary Sheffield recently complained publicly about his role with the Tigers, saying that he doesn't like being "platooned" and doesn't like playing exclusively designated hitter. Manager Jim Leyland responded to his comments Monday, pointing out that Sheffield is hardly being platooned while playing nearly every day and hasn't been able to stay healthy while playing the outfield. Actually, it's probably worth reading Leyland's exact words, because as usual they're pretty good.
"Anybody that has a brain knows that's not a platoon," Leyland began. "Platoon is when you have a left-hand hitter and a right-hand hitter. One plays against right-hand pitching and one plays against left-hand pitching. That's a platoon." Asked about Sheffield being limited to DH, Leyland said: "I tried to play him in the outfield. It didn't work. He couldn't throw in from the outfield." Not surprisingly, ESPN.com reported Tuesday that Sheffield has been placed on waivers.
Of course, between a .717 OPS and $14 million remaining on his contract next year it's a safe bet that no team will be claiming him. Adding to the drama with his name on the waiver wire and his complaints filling newspapers, Sheffield belted a pair of homers Tuesday night. His season totals remain ugly, but Sheffield has quietly smacked seven homers in the past 22 games after going deep a total of five times through his first 55 games. Hopefully he'll keep hitting and stop taking.
* According to the Arizona Republic, Micah Owings is one of the two players to be named later that the Reds received in Monday's deal for Adam Dunn. Owings got off to a great start this year, going 6-2 with a 3.73 ERA on the mound while hitting well at the plate, but he's fallen apart since with a 0-7 record and 9.21 ERA (plus a 7-for-33 stretch at the plate). That earned Owings a trip to the bullpen followed by a demotion back to Triple-A, and soon he'll be headed to Cincinnati.
At just 25 years old Owings is still young enough and promising enough that his inclusion makes the deal look better from the Reds' point of view, but his recent struggles and shoulder problems certainly cloud his long-term outlook. Within the ups and downs he's gone 14-17 with a 4.97 ERA and 193-to-91 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 257 career innings while hitting .313/.350/.545 in 122 plate appearances. Unfortunately for Owings, Cincinnati is another hitter-friendly ballpark.
* Carl Crawford announced Tuesday that he'll undergo surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right hand. He's expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks, making a regular-season return unlikely, but the Rays are holding out hope that he could potentially be available in the playoffs. With Crawford out of the picture, the Rays figure to replace him by platooning Eric Hinske and Justin Ruggiano in left field. Ruggiano is an intriguing player with upside, but Hinske has more short-term value.
AL Quick Hits: Rays boss Andrew Feldman said Tuesday that September 1 "seems reasonable" for Evan Longoria's return from a fractured wrist . With the Indians bullpen in flux, Jensen Lewis pitched a perfect ninth inning Tuesday for his second save in five days . Dontrelle Willis has been promoted to Triple-A, but general manager Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that the goal is for "him to be ready to be a big-league pitcher . in 2009" . Hit by a pitch in five straight games, Carlos Quentin was scratched from Tuesday's lineup with "general soreness" . Sporting an ugly 6.23 ERA since June 1, Javier Vazquez tossed eight shutout innings Tuesday . Hank Blalock (shoulder) said Tuesday that he's hoping to come off the disabled list next week . Carlos Guillen left Tuesday's game with back tightness, which is a concern after he missed weekend games with back spasms . A.J. Burnett won Tuesday despite allowing four runs for the third straight start and now has 15 wins to go along with a career-worst 4.67 ERA . Detroit signed Freddy Garcia to a minor-league contract Tuesday, but he's unlikely to have a fantasy impact this season.
NL Quick Hits:Tim Lincecum exited Tuesday's game after taking a line drive off his right knee, limping off the field under his own power . One day after the latest Mets bullpen implosion and an Aaron Heilman blown save, Pedro Feliciano closed out a one-run victory Tuesday for Johan Santana's 10th win . As expected, Nomar Garciaparra came off the disabled list and started at shortstop Tuesday, with Andruw Jones (knee) replacing him on the shelf . He may avoid the DL, but Aaron Cook won't make his scheduled Thursday start because of back soreness . Edinson Volquez tossed 6.2 innings of one-run ball Tuesday, improving to 14-5 while keeping his ERA below 3.00 . With Tuesday's win over the Rockies, Randy Johnson is now 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his last seven starts . Jeff Karstens proved human Tuesday, snapping his scoreless streak by allowing four runs in a loss . Chris Dickerson replaced Adam Dunn on the Reds' roster Tuesday and makes for a solid pickup in NL-only leagues for teams that need speed.