Halladay 3-1, FINAL: A masterful performance by Roy Halladay today, retiring 20 of the final 21 batters he faced and driving the price for his services way up. Halladay allows one run on six hits — five in the first three innings — while striking out seven, including Jacoby Ellsbury to end it. Makes you wonder if Theo Epstein has a blockbuster package in mind after watching that show.
End 8th, Blue Jays 3-1: Manny Delcarmen works a scoreless inning, leaving it up to Ortiz, Bay and Ellsbury against Halladay in the ninth. Advantage, Halladay.
Mid 8th, Blue Jays 3-1: Halladay is just toying with Red Sox hitters at this point, putting together his fourth 1-2-3 inning in the past five. Halladay is still at just 92 pitches, so the complete game is his to have.
End 7th, Blue Jays 3-1: Jon Lester refuses to go down, pitching through the seventh, allowing a two-out double to Adam Lind, but stranding him there on his 112th pitch. Lester has allowed five hits and four walks, but has six strikeouts. And against most mortals, allowing three runs wouldn’t be that bad. But this is Roy Halladay on his game today, and three runs might as well be 30.
Mid 7th, Blue Jays 3-1: Call it a technical knockout. While Lester hasd labored through six innings, Halladay is floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Two more strikeouts in another 1-2-3 inning. Since allowing one-out singles to Pedroia and Youkilis in the third, Halladay has retired 14 of 15 batters faced.
End 6th, Blue Jays 3-1: Lester gives up a pair of leadoff singles to Overbay and Rios, but manages to escape with minimal damage on a sacrifice fly by Rod Barajas, who has all three RBI today. Rios thought he had a stolen base early in the inning, but was sent back to first because Cooper interfered with Varitek on the throw. No matter. Rios stole the base later in the inning, but did not score.
Mid 6th, Blue Jays 2-1: David Ortiz snaps a string of eight in a row retired by Halladay with a single, but it’s merely a blip on Doc’s radar, as Bay forces Ortiz at second and Ellsbury pops out to end the inning. This one has complete game written all over it.
End 5th, Blue Jays 2-1: Score that round a draw, as Lester rebounds with a solid 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Lester is at 87 pitches.
Mid 5th, Blue Jays 2-1: Halladay is in control, pitching his second straight 1-2-3 inning, even getting Pedroia out for the first time today. Halladay is at 64 pitches through five.
End 4th, Blue Jays 2-1: Round 4 goes to Halladay and Lester is on the ropes. The Blue Jays load the bases with two outs, helped in part by a throwing error by Lester, but he escapes serious damage by getting Scutaro on a comebacker. This has not been a good outing for Lester, who is up to 78 pitches as already has a season-high four walks, but he has been able to make pitches when he’s had to. The question is, how many more innings does he have left?
Mid 4th, Blue Jays 2-1: Halladay is starting to warm up, putting together his first 1-2-3 inning of the day. We’ll see if Lester can match it, but the left-hander has labored a bit the past two innings.
End 3rd, Blue Jays 2-1: Score Round 3 a draw. Lester issues a four-pitch walk to leadoff man Marco Scutaro — and this one had nothing to do with the umpire — but recovers to get the next three hitters, including his third strikeout. Lester is at 52 pitches through three.
Mid 3rd, Blue Jays 2-1: The Red Sox have five hits through three innings, but just the one run to show for it. Pedroia and Youkilis hit back-to-back one-out singles, but after nearly getting a 3-6-1 double play from Ortiz, Halladay gets Bay on another loud out to center to escape damage. Still, despite allowing five hits, Halladay is only at 37 pitches through three.
End 2nd, Blue Jays 2-1: Round 2 goes to Halladay, with considerable help from home plate umpire Eric Cooper. Lester struck out Scott Rolen to open the inning, then got squeezed like a boa constrictor by Cooper on a 3-and-1 pitch to Lyle Overbay, then a 1-and-0 pitch to Alex Rios in a four-pitch walk. Both Lester and Jason Varitek had looks and words for Cooper, and Varitek had to go to the mound to keep Lester from getting himself ejected. Varitek then made a nifty sliding catch near the Jays dugout against Kevin Millar for the second out, but Rod Barajas made the walks pay with a double down the left-field line. Lester needed 25 pitches to get out of the inning.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Kotsay singles with two outs and steals second, but that’s all the Sox can do in the inning. The approach is very clear today: Swing early in the count. Halladay has faced nine batters, but has thrown just 22 pitches. Meanwhile, Tom Watson and Stewart Cink are headed for a four-hole playoff at Turnberry. Watson’s bogey on 18 forces the playoff. Thank God for the recall button.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Round 1 goes to Lester. The left-hander makes quick work of the Jays, getting Adam Lind looking for the final out. Both pitchers needed just 11 pitches in the first inning, but with far different results.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox waste no time continuing their success against Halladay. The right-hander started strong by making Drew look foolish on a 1-and-2 fastball on the black, but then the Red Sox struck back. Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield single when Halladay couldn’t quite field a comebacker, then Youkilis continued his personal domination with a double down the left-field line, moving Pedroia to third. Ortiz followed with a scorched live drive to right, allowing Pedroia to tag and score. Jason Bay then made a bid for extra bases with a deep drive to center, but Alex Rios made a nice catch up against the wall to end the inning.
1 p.m.: Jon Lester is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in his career against the Jays, but he is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts this season, beating the Jays twice in a span of three starts back in May. As for Halladay, this is the first time this season the Red Sox are facing him.
12:45 p.m.: As good as Roy Halladay is, the Red Sox have had a lot of success against him. Halladay enters today’s game with just a 12-12 career record with a less-than-stellar 4.46 ERA. The one thing Halladay has going for him today is a less-than-stellar Red Sox lineup. When Jacoby Ellsbury, coming off the flu, is hitting sixth, that’s not exactly Murderer’s Row. Although, to Ellsbury’s credit, he is 6-for-17 against Halladay (.357) with two homers. David Ortiz has five career homers and a .273 average. The slumping J.D. Drew is 8-for-21 (.381) and Kevin Youkilis is 15-for-45 (.333).
Mark Kotsay returns to the lineup at first base, hitting eighth. Nick Green is back in at shortstop, hitting ninth. As expected, Mike Lowell has today off. Jed Lowrie also gets the day off after making his return Saturday.
10 a.m.: On one side is perhaps the game’s top right-hander, Roy Halladay, the subject of trade rumors and the owner of a 10-3 record. On the other side is one of game’s emerging superstar lefties, Jon Lester, who turned his season around at Rogers Centre in late May, posting a 5-1 record with an ERA around 1.50 since then. If the Halladay trade rumors are true, this could be one of the last such battles between these teams, so be sure to savor the moment.