Commentary

What a difference a day makes

Sox respond loudly after lost weekend, but all it'll earn Lowell is spot on bench Tuesday

Updated: May 4, 2010, 12:09 PM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- We will save, for the moment, what Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis thought about the general manager's saying the Red Sox have been playing bad baseball.

First, we must address the question many of you will be asking over your boiled water this morning. (And doesn't the current, remember-the-busted-main crisis add new meaning to the Standells' celebratory ditty that plays after every Red Sox win?)

Lowell I don't have a problem with [Theo Epstein saying the Red Sox were playing bad baseball]. I think I'd have a problem with him saying it if I thought we were playing good baseball. But I don't think anyone in here thought we were playing good baseball. Hopefully it will start.

-- Red Sox infielder Mike Lowell

On Monday night, the Red Sox lineup produced a season-high 17 runs, 20 hits, 11 extra-base hits, 4 home runs, a 7-run inning and hits from every spot in the order, including home runs No. 1 from Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall. Will that lineup change Tuesday night, simply because the Angels' starting pitcher will be throwing with the opposite hand?

The answer, if manager Terry Francona can be taken at his word after Boston's first start-to-finish exercise in unbridled giddiness, a 17-8 thumping of the Los Angeles Angels, is yes. And Francona left little doubt that he was on the square.

"I think there are some things we need to be consistent with and that's not just tonight's lineup but our approach, of how we're doing things,'' Francona said. "I was certainly happy with the way we swung the bats tonight, but I think it's a long season.''

By that standard, at least, Lowell -- who matched a career high with three doubles and was on base all five times he strode to the plate, adding a single and a walk to his wall-banging night -- can expect to take a seat Tuesday night against the Angels and right-hander Ervin Santana.

Lowell served as DH on Monday night because the Angels started left-hander Joe Saunders, and was the middle man in a 4-5-6 combination that reached base a stunning 14 times. Youkilis, like Lowell, was on base five times, hitting his fifth home run, a double, walking twice and getting hit in the back by a pitch, which provoked a warning from plate umpire John Hirschbeck to Saunders and both benches, but was shrugged off by Youkilis.

"It happens,'' he said. "Helps get my on-base percentage up.''

Following Lowell was J.D. Drew, who matched a career-high with four hits -- a double and three singles -- and knocked in three runs, giving him 15 RBIs in his past 11 games after he'd knocked in two in his first 14 games.

The three scored seven runs among them (an eighth was scored by Jonathan Van Every, who ran for Drew) and knocked in eight runs.

But with right-hander Santana going Tuesday, Lowell is likely to cede his spot in the order to David Ortiz, who hit two home runs Saturday night but is still lugging around a team-worst .159 batting average.

Hard to know you'll be sitting after a night like Monday?

[+] EnlargeMike Lowell
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonMike Lowell, who went 4-for-4 with four RBIs on Monday, said he understands his situation as a role player with the Red Sox, but acknowledged it "does feel at times like you're on a tryout basis."

"I understand the situation, but it does feel at times like you're on a tryout basis,'' Lowell said. "Just because we're feelings things out as a team, if I can make that decision as hard as possible, I'd do so."

But didn't he feel like he'd earned the right to try to inflict more damage on an Angels pitching staff that gave up multiple runs in five different innings, including the bonanza seven-run sixth?

"I feel like I earned more playing time from the last 11 years of my career,'' he said.

He elaborated a bit further, then stopped himself.

"Next question,'' he said. "I'm not going to open up a big bag of worms.''

Paper or plastic, bag or can, on a night that the worm may have turned for the Red Sox, no need to be picky. The Red Sox were just damn glad that on Monday night, they bore faint resemblance to the APB put out by Sox GM Theo Epstein in the Boston Herald to be on the lookout for a team playing bad baseball -- "unintelligent, undisciplined, uninspired baseball.''

"Is that what he said?'' said Pedroia, who helped set the tone for the night with crisply executed plays on the game's first two ground balls, then later smacked a three-run home run in the sixth, his team-leading seventh of the season.

"I don't know, man. We responded well to it, I guess.''

He was going to leave it at that, but then offered another thought.

"Man, we don't make our season on 25 games. We're trying to play well. We got a lot of games left. Hopefully, we'll put it together and show people what kind of team we can be.''

Youkilis, who homered to start the second and doubled to touch off the sixth, was asked about the fairness of the boss's judgment.

"I think if you're not winning, you're doing something wrong, so yeah,'' he said. "You can win ballgames and still make all those mistakes, but if you're not winning ballgames, you're doing something wrong. That's evident ... but there's a long way to go.''

On Sunday, when the Red Sox dropped their third straight to the Orioles, completing Baltimore's first sweep of the Sox in 12 years, Lowell had a dreadful day at the plate, striking out twice and hitting two dribblers.

"You can turn it around quick,'' he said. "As bad as [Sunday] was -- I don't think I hit the ball past the pitcher, and I consider myself an elite athlete, so that was a little embarrassing -- I thought tonight was a nice way to bounce back.

"I didn't know until this morning I'd be DHing, but that was such a good feeling. You can have a bad day, and the next day you can be a big contributor. That's the beauty of playing every day. What you did means nothing for tomorrow.''

Bad baseball?

"If it's not true, yeah, I would take offense to it,'' he said, "but I think everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'Does this apply to me, and if it does, we have to correct it.'

"No, I don't have a problem with [Epstein] saying it. I think I'd have a problem with him saying it if I thought we were playing good baseball. But I don't think anyone in here thought we were playing good baseball. Hopefully it will start.''

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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