Angels 7-6, Angels 3-0, FINAL: It's all over. At long last, the Angels celebrate at Fenway Park. Jonathan Papelbon ends a season on the edge by toppling into the abyss. So many questions after this one. It will be a long and interesting winter.
3:57 p.m.: Ellsbury fouls out to the catcher. One out left in the season. Dustin Pedroia is up.
3:55 p.m.: Lowrie, pinch hitting for Gonzalez, flies out to center for the first out of the ninth. Ellsbury up.
End 8th, Angels 7-6: Amazingly, the Red Sox must score a run to keep the season alive. Jed Lowrie, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia coming up against Brian Fuentes.
3:46 p.m.: Papelbon has blown it! Guerrero singles to center and the Angels have taken a 7-6 lead. Papelbon hears the boos as Francona comes out to lift him. A shocking turn of events here. Papelbon had never allowed a postseason run until this inning. Now, the Red Sox are three outs away from extinction.
3:45 p.m.: Hunter is walked intentionally. It's Papelbon vs. Vlad to save the season.
3:44 p.m.: Not over. Abreu doubles home a run, making it 6-5. Tying run on third, go-ahead run on second. Hunter up. It's dead silent at the park.
3:39 p.m.: We're not done yet. Papelbon allows a two-out single to Aybar, then walks Figgins. Bobby Abreu is up with with the potential tying run on first.
3:33 p.m.: Gary Matthews Jr., pinch hitting for Napoli, flies out to center. One out to go.
3:31 p.m.: Victor Martinez puts away the first out on a foul pop, but he has to dodge a typical idiot fan who reached over the railing and almost knocked it away. Then the guy pats Martinez on the back, like he's his buddy.
End 8th, Red Sox 6-4: Macier Izturis, Mike Napoli and Erick Aybar are due up in the ninth for the Angels. If the Red Sox hold on here, Jon Lester will pitch Game 4 Monday night on three days' rest.
"When you talk to a pitcher and they say they're not ready, then don't do it," Terry Francona said before the game. "But in this instance, he felt real good about it. So it made sense to us. All along that was kind of the thought process."
3:22 p.m.: The ghost of Dave Roberts strikes in the eighth. After a two-out single by David Ortiz, Joey Gathright pinch-runs and steals second base. That sets up an RBI single by Mike Lowell, and the Red Sox get an enormous insurance run for a 6-4 lead.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-4: Papelbon redeems himself, picking off pinch runner Reggie Willits to end the inning. Papelbon, who famously picked off Matt Holliday in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, nearly got Willits on his first throw over, then nailed him on the second try.
3:06 p.m.: I LOST MY LUNCH! Papelbon allows a two-run single to Juan Rivera, and it's 5-4 Red Sox.
3:01 p.m.: With runners at second and third and two outs, Jonathan Papelbon is coming into the game for a four-out save. Hunter walked Vlad Guerrero with one out (after Abreu led off with a double off Youkilis' glove) and Morales moved the runners up with a ground out. Now … I LOST MY LEG!
2:57 p.m.: Torii Hunter is the new Fenway favorite. Hunter threw a nutty (pardon the pun) after being called for a strike when faking a bunt in the eighth. Greg Gibson made the call at first base and Hunter doth protested too much, drawing a "Tor-ii" chant from the crowd. Not as effective as "Darr-yl" in 1986, or "Where is Roger?" in 1999, but a decent effort. Hunter then struck out, earning more love from the crowd.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-2: The Red Sox offense has gone back into storage, managing just a pair of walks since the Drew homer. A little insurance would be nice, with six outs still to go. Wagner is into the game, with Papelbon starting to loosen.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-2: Another brilliant inning for Bard, who gets a pair of called strike threes, including a nasty breaking ball to freeze Chone Figgins for the final out. Expect Billy Wagner to pitch the eighth, then Jonathan Papelbon to send us to Monday night.
End 6th, Red Sox 5-2: Kazmir has retired 8-of-9 since allowing the Drew homer in the fourth, but this is all about the Red Sox bullpen now. Bard is back out to start the seventh.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-2: The kids are alright. Bard gets the job done in relief of Buchholz, inducing a 5-4-3 double play from Rivera, then getting Macier Izturis on a pop fly to shortstop, limiting the damage to one run. Bard has retired all five batters he's faced in the series.
2:11 p.m.: Buchholz walks Morales on four pitches to load the bases and out comes Terry Francona. Daniel Bard is into the game. Will he play the 2005 Orlando Hernandez role, with Juan Rivera as Johnny Damon?
2:07 p.m.: Torii Hunter is having an adventure on the bases and Buchholz is having an adventure on the mound. Hunter led off the sixth with a double, then appeared to hurt himself diving back to the bag on a pickoff play. Next pitch, Hunter started for third, causing Buchholz to balk. But when Guerrero hit an infield single to third, the ball bouncing away from Mike Lowell toward shortstop, Hunter never took off for home. It's first-and-third, nobody out for Morales, with Daniel Bard joining Dice-K in the pen.
End 5th, Red Sox 5-1: Kazmir settles down with a 1-2-3 inning, but the damage has been done. Buchholz goes back out for the sixth at 85 pitches as the stirring begins in the Red Sox bullpen.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-1: Clay Buchholz is coming up very big in his first postseason start. Buchholz allowed a leadoff double to Napoli, and Daisuke Matsuzaka started doing some stretching in the bullpen, but Buchholz answered with two straight called strike threes before getting Bobby Abreu on a lazy fly to center. The Sox just need one more inning, before turning it over to the pen.
End 4th, Red Sox 5-1: We have ourselves a series, folks. J.D. Drew drills a two-run homer off the camera stand in center to make it 5-1. The Red Sox already have more hits in 3 1/3 innings (5) than in either of the first two games.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-1: Good thing the Red Sox got three runs, but Buchholz gives one back in the fourth, allowing a one-out homer to right by Kendry Morales. Someone threw the ball back on the field, per the crowd's urging, and it looked like Fenway security was going to eject the thrower. Fortunately, it appears common sense prevailed.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: The biggest inning of the series for the Red Sox, as Victor Martinez follows up Pedroia's two-run double with an RBI single for a three-run lead. That was the first three-hit inning of the series, and obviously the most runs. The Red Sox needed to work with a lead today and now Buchholz has it.
1:15 p.m.: The Red Sox have the lead. Dustin Pedroia doubles home Alex Gonzalez (walk) and Jacoby Ellsbury (single) for a 2-0 lead with one out in the third. Ellsbury's speed is sparking the team, with the defensive play in the top half of the inning and his ability to score from first on the double to left-center.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Jacoby Ellsbury makes a spectacular diving catch to rob Abreu of a hit, helping Buchholz throw his first 1-2-3 inning. Let's see if that's the spark the gets the Red Sox going.
1:01 p.m.: The Angels hadn't seen Buchholz since last season, so it will be interesting to see what happens the second time through the order, starting with Chone Figgins, who leads off the third.
End 2nd, 0-0: David Ortiz and Mike Lowell had combined for six homers off Kazmir in their careers, but neither came close to leaving the yard in the second, making outs on routine fly balls. Jason Bay drew a one-out walk, but that's the only baserunner so far for the Sox. Banking on the change of scenery to awaken the offense is looking like a bad bet today.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Eric Cooper is our home plate umpire, and he nearly joins the ranks of C.B. Bucknor and Phil Cuzzi, ruling a Buchholz pitch with two outs hit Mike Napoli on the hand, when replays showed it hit the knob of the bat. No harm, no foul, as Buchholz strands two by getting Erick Aybar on a grounder to second. Good poise displayed by Buchholz so far.
End 1st, 0-0: Scott Kazmir is 6-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 13 career starts at Fenway Park. He has no trouble with the anemic Red Sox offense in the first, throwing a 12-pitch 1-2-3 inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Buchholz gets through his first postseason inning unscathed, battling with Vlad Guerrero with two outs and a runner at second before getting a groundout to second. The crowd is into it early today, rising for every two-strike pitch in that at-bat.
12:17 p.m.: Not a rousing start to the proceedings, as Bobby Abreu hits a one-out single, then moves up to second on a botched pickoff play at first. The Red Sox can ill-afford to fall behind early, given the struggles of the offense.
12:02 p.m.: Dave Henderson has thrown out the first pitch and the weather is absolutely perfect at Fenway Park. It's a good day for a comeback, don't you think?
11:51 a.m.: Clay Buchholz hasn't pitched a game of this magnitude since college, which wasn't all that long ago, when you think about it. But the nerves are going to be there today, just one more obstacle to overcome.
"Nothing of this magnitude I've ever been able to be a part of," Buchholz said Saturday. "You know, just stay calm. I know the nerves are going to be there in the first and second inning. I think after the first pitch and first couple of batters I'll try to take it back to where I was in the middle of the season. Just rely on fastball to get ahead and going from there. Try to mix pitches and not let them sit on any one pitch. I think that's just the name of pitching. You have to go out there and try to match up your stuff as well as you can against the guys that are hitting."
11:15 a.m.: The Red Sox are having their 12 slices of bacon and Red Bulls and we're less than an hour away from Dave Henderson throwing out the first pitch before starting Game 3.
Henderson is an appropriate choice, as the Red Sox look to win three in a row to cheat postseason death. Since 2003, the Red Sox are 12-3 in elimination games, 7-1 at Fenway Park. The lone loss at home came in Game 3 of the 1995 Division Series against the White Sox.
10:30 a.m.: Only one change to the Red Sox lineup today, with Jason Bay batting fifth and David Ortiz sixth, giving the Red Sox four consecutive right-handed bats in a row against the lefty Scott Kazmir. The Angels lineup is the same as Game 2.
Angels: Figgins 3b, Abreu rf, Hunter cf, Guerrero dh, Morales 1b, Rivera lf, Izturis 2b, Napoli c, Aybar ss, Kazmir sp.
Red Sox: Ellsbury cf, Pedroia 2b, Martinez c, Youkilis 1b, Bay lf, Ortiz dh, Lowell 3b, Drew rf, Gonzalez ss, Buchholz sp.
9:45 a.m.: Here we are once again. Back at Fenway Park with Red Sox backs against the Wall. The team is taking batting practice at the moment, hoping this won't be for the final time this season. The Red Sox have come from 0-2 (and 0-3 and 1-3) before, but will this be 1999, 2003, 2004, or 2005?
Will Juan Rivera twist his ankle today and forget to touch home plate? Will Dice-K come out of the bullpen and throw five no-hit innings. Will Joey Gathright steal second off Brian Fuentes to start the ninth? Or will Jason Bay strike out with the bases loaded in the middle innings.
Most important, will Clay Buchholz be like Derek Lowe? Buchholz has a no-hitter, but he's never had a postseason start, and that's a lot to ask a still-young pitcher who stubbed his toes twice in the final week of the regular season. On the other side, Scott Kazmir has enjoyed his greatest success against the Red Sox, and the Angels are riding a wave of momentum. They have endured too many years of losing big games in this ballpark, and will be primed to get this thing over today.
Then again, maybe Kazmir will pull a Dave Burba, and we'll see you here tomorrow night.