Thursday, June 11, 2009

Smoltz rained out, Penny shines

Brad Penny didn't even give the crowd a chance to give him a farewell standing ovation. After he froze Hideki Matsui with a beautiful full-count changeup -- he'd thrown nothing but fastballs and curveballs through the first seven pitches of the at-bat -- he pumped his fist and sprinted off the mound.

He'd thrown 117 pitches. His night -- and, in all likelihood, his brief career with the Red Sox -- was over. His final line: Six innings, six hits, no runs, one walk, five strikeouts, and a no-decision thanks to the three runs the Yankees hung on Manny Delcarmen in the seventh.

(Weird quirk: Entering Thursday, the Red Sox had lost every start this season in which Penny had thrown 96 or more pitches, but they were 6-1 when Penny threw 96 pitches or fewer. That streak came awfully close to ending before the Red Sox lineup exploded in the bottom of the eighth inning.)

The only way that Penny could still be in a Red Sox uniform next Tuesday or Wednesday, in all likelihood, is if John Smoltz suffers a setback in his final rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket. If he comes through healthy, though, he's likely to get the ball at some point next week against the Florida Marlins.

Penny and the Red Sox will have to wait one more day to find out how Smoltz fares in that start. The PawSox were supposed to play a doubleheader in Syracuse but were rained out. Smoltz instead will pitch the front end of a doubleheader on Friday.

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