Final, Blue Jays 7-6: David Cooper defeats the Red Sox with a solo homer in the eighth and a sacrifice fly in the 10th, an unlikely hero in a back-and-forth affair that keeps the Red Sox from that elusive .500 mark.
Rajai Davis reached with one out and promptly stole second (on a pitchout, no less) and third. That brought the infield and outfield in and Cooper's fly to center was more than enough to bring in the decisive run.
A frustrating loss for Boston, which fell to 1-2 in extra innings, all in the last week.
Jon Lester never had it, but Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz helped the Sox get this one to extra innings. Like a lot of the season, some positives and some negatives. It's really been a mixed bag since Opening Day, hasn't it?
One guy certainly guilty of keeping with that theme is John Lackey, the starter for Boston on Wednesday in the series finale. Jesse Litsch starts for Toronto. First pitch will be 7:07 p.m.
Mid 10th, 6-6: I don't know enough about the craft to fully understand why Adrian Gonzalez said he goes to left field more as the weather warms, but it seems like he has the ball on a string between home plate and deep left right now. I guess it simply means he drives the ball more in higher temps, like a lot of guys do, and when he drives the ball it often goes that way.
Surely a few of you watching jumped a bit when Gonzalez's flyball with two outs in the 10th left his bat looking a bit like his two opposite-field homers. Alas, it dies in the glove of Corey Patterson, and it's up to Matt Albers to get this one to the 11th.
End 9th, 6-6: Matt "The Blessing" Albers works through a quick bottom of the ninth, and we are into extra innings once again.
No team in the American League played more extra-inning games than the Red Sox last year, and it seems as if they are heading down that same path.
Problem is, Boston stunk in extras last year. They were 6-12, a result of having such a poor bullpen.
Mid 9th, 6-6: Hard to think of a way to put into words what Adrian Gonzalez is doing this past week or so, but I think the best way to comprehend how good a hitter he is is to recall his first two at-bats tonight.
Gonzalez looked like the lesser man in fanning twice against Kyle Drabek. He made whatever adjustments he needed to make, hammered a two-run homer, singled and then homered again.
Pretty remarkable to make such a transition in-game.
Jose Iglesias made his first career at-bat later in the inning. He struck out but reached when the pitch got away.
Matt Albers is on to pitch the ninth for Boston.
10:26 p.m.: Ladies and gentlemen, Adrian Gonzalez. Wow. I mean, wow.
Gonzalez just lined his second homer of the night over the wall in left. Both of his homers tonight have gone the opposite way, and each of his last four have done so.
End 8th, Blue Jays 6-5: David Cooper entered this game hitting 3-for-27 in his major league career, with no homers. And he committed an error in his first inning as a defensive replacement.
Seems a pretty unlikely candidate to be the hero, but that's what he will be if the Blue Jays can get the last three outs.
Cooper's first big-league shot comes off Daniel Bard, who has not allowed an earned run in his last 15 innings.
10:17 p.m.: While I'm fixing my mistakes (previous post) David Cooper takes Daniel Bard deep, an unlikely scenario that swings this one back into Toronto's hands.
10:16 p.m.: Just want to clarify a stat from earlier. I mentioned Rich Hill with some pretty amazing numbers since joining the organization, but I did leave out his initial stint at Pawtucket last year.
I told you it was a faulty stat, and I just screwed it up even more. Anyway, his numbers are good, OK? The stat I used is since he was called up late in 2010.
Mid 8th, 5-5: Quite a back-and-forth affair here. We will see Daniel Bard now try to keep this one from see-sawing back the other way.
We also get to see Jose Iglesias at shortstop in a more meaningful setting than the one inning he got in that 9-5 win the other day.
10:05 p.m.: Jarrod Saltalamacchia just smoked an RBI single to score pinch runner Jose Iglesias and we are tied in the eighth.
Iglesias ran for Jed Lowrie, who doubled to start it off. I have to question why Marc Rzepczynski was left out there to face Lowrie, even though Carl Crawford was on deck. People have to realize that Lowrie is an absolute menace against left-handers, and because John Farrell waited a bit to pull his, Lowrie made him pay.
Jacoby Ellsbury followed the hit by Saltalamacchia with one of his own. Finally, Farrell emerged to bring in Jon Rauch. And that's where we stand.
By the way, Saltalamacchia has not had a ton of hits, but does anybody hit the ball harder when he does connect? Hits some real ropes.
End 7th, Blue Jays 5-4: Alfredo Aceves added some intrigue in the seventh by hitting one man and walking two after taking over for Rich Hill.
Finally, Aceves ends the inning with a fly to right, but not before he loses about 30 pounds of water weight. Seriously, have you ever seen someone sweat the way he just was? It was pouring off the brim of his cap the entire time. Very distracting, I'm sure.
9:47 p.m.: OK, work with me on this one, for it is a very unofficial, awkward stat, but a fun one.
Including spring training and his time with both Boston and Pawtucket, Rich Hill has given up two runs in 32 2/3 innings since joining this organization. That's good for a 0.55 ERA.
Now, I know you can't really use stats like that, but just consider that one way or another, no matter if it's in Fort Myers, Scranton or Toronto, Hill has gotten people out.
He goes 1 1/3 scoreless in this one before yielding to Aldredo Aceves with two outs in the seventh.
Mid 7th, Blue Jays 5-4: The Red Sox caught a break when a roller to third by Kevin Youkilis was a bit too slow to turn two, allowing Dustin Pedroia to get to third and Youkilis to reach first with one out.
Pedroia, then, becomes the tying run and the Sox only need a fly ball to get it. Instead, they get a comebacker by David Ortiz that begins an inning-ending 1-6-3 DP, killing the threat.
Huge escape there by Marc Rzepczynski.
9:36 p.m.: The Red Sox have runners at first and second and no outs in the seventh, and they should feel pretty fortunate about it.
Dustin Pedroia singled but was picked off, if only first baseman David Cooper could've caught the throw. Adrian Gonzalez followed with a grounder to short that resulted in an infield hit, Pedroia staying at second with the ball in front of him.
9:28 p.m.: This has extra innings written all over it, doesn't it?
Dustin Pedroia represents the tying run after a single to begin the seventh. That prompts a pitching change from John Farrell. In comes lefty Marc Rzepczynski, to bother each and every one of us who have to type his name. And to face Adrian Gonzalez.
End 6th, Blue Jays 5-4: Rich Hill does his job once again. Notable is how the soft-tossing lefty got Jose Bautista to ground to short to end it.
Jon Lester's line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 1 HBP
9:19 p.m.: Jon Lester's season-high 114th pitch hits Yunel Escobar to put two on with one out in the sixth.
J.P. Arencibia already homered in the inning to give Toronto the lead. Lester also walked the light-hitting John McDonald one out before hitting Escobar. Just a crappy night for Lester all around, and he is responsible for the two men on so his line could get worse.
Rich Hill is on in relief.
Mid 6th, 4-4: Jason Frasor does his part to keep momentum on the sides of the hosts by striking out the side in the top of the sixth.
Hard to quantify momentum in baseball, and especially in front of a sparse crowd, but it's always nice when your team scores and your pitcher puts up a very quick zero.
End 5th, 4-4: Get ready for a battle of the bullpens. Jon Lester is up to 96 pitches after an inning that sees him surrender a solo homer to Jose Bautista. He should have enough for one more, but that's about it.
Jason Frasor takes over for Toronto starter Kyle Drabek to start the sixth, so the Jays are already at that point.
Bautista has 11 home runs this year and nine against the Red Sox since the start of 2010. It was a curve from Lester that stayed belt-high and right out over the plate, and Bautista lined it over the wall in left.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 4-3: Adrian Gonzalez has three home runs in five games, and all three have been shots to left. Exactly what everyone talked about all winter long.
After striking out his first two times up against Kyle Drabek, Gonzalez just followed a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia by launching his fifth of the year.
Gonzalez has 20 RBIs in his last 25 games, 12 in his last 11. Really locked in right now. Frankly, from being around him and listening to him talk about hitting, and do it so matter-of-factly, he's the type of guy who could stay locked in all year. Just has such a firm grasp on what he is supposed to do up there.
End 4th, Blue Jays 3-2: Jon Lester continues to play with fire, but survive.
Rajai Davis tripled with one out in the fourth. The ever-aggressive John Farrell called for a squeeze play, but it seems as if the hitter, Yunel Escobar, missed the sign. Davis was caught halfway down the line and tagged out attempting to retreat.
Escobar got on with an infield hit before Lester got back to the dugout with a strikeout of Corey Patterson.
Farrell has shown early in his managerial tenure that he will try anything and everything to score runs. Some of these guys are used to waiting for three-run homers, so there will be moments like that.
Mid 4th, Blue Jays 3-2: We mentioned that Corey Patterson already has two hits. Now he has a big defensive play, nailing Carl Crawford at home plate to end the top of the fourth.
Crawford had reached on an error, stole second and was trying to score on Jacoby Ellsbury's single to left. The throw just beat him. Huge for the Jays, and from a guy not normally known for his arm.
Patterson was playing shallow, but with two outs and the runner being Crawford, it was the right move to send him.
The Red Sox did score in the inning, however, when David Ortiz absolutely crushed a Kyle Drabek offering to straightaway center, his fifth of the year.
It's amazing to think that if Ortiz was hitting .190 or something like that, it would be the biggest story surrounding this team.
Why did they pick up his option?!? When will they bench him???
But it's barely mentioned that Ortiz is hitting .292 with power. The home run is his second hit of the night and bumps his average in May up to .353 (12-for-34). You might recall that Ortiz hit .363 with 10 homers last May.
End 3rd, Blue Jays 3-1: Corey Patterson improved to 7-for-14 in his career against Jon Lester with a leadoff single in the third.
A double by Edwin Encarnacion moved Patterson to third with one out, but Lester then found himself in a more favorable matchup.
Aaron Hill, up with two in scoring position and one out, popped to shortstop to fall to 2-for-28 (.071) against Lester. It was a huge out for the lefty, although he did walk his fourth hitter of the night to load the bases before escaping.
Lester has thrown 60 pitches. He has done well to limit the damage, but way too many pitches early on. The four walks are a season high.
Mid 3rd, Blue Jays 3-1: We haven't seen many pitchers make Adrian Gonzalez look like an easy out, but that's what Kyle Drabek has done so far.
Drabek got Gonzalez swinging on a changeup in the first, and he does the same in the third. It's part of a quick frame for the right-hander.
End 2nd, Blue Jays 3-1: Mentioned this one yesterday. Carl Crawford leads all left fielders in baseball in putouts, one of the other reasons the Red Sox wanted this guy.
Crawford makes a very nice running catch of a John McDonald drive into the left-center field gap for the first out of the second. Jon Lester sets down the next two in order and has a much cleaner inning.
Mid 2nd, Blue Jays 3-1: Strange start to this one. The Red Sox have one run on four hits, the Blue Jays three runs on one hit.
Seems like weird things always happen when Boston visits Toronto. Is it just me?
The second began with consecutive hits by David Ortiz and J.D. Drew. A single by Carl Crawford one out later got the Red Sox on the board.
That's a 10-game hitting streak for Carl Crawfrord. He is 14-for-37 (.378) during the run.
End 1st, Blue Jays 3-0: I have all the respect in the world for Jon Lester, both as a person and pitcher.
If there is one thing that I wish I would see less of it is his negative body language, often towards umps if things aren't going well.
Things did not go well in the first. At all. Lester loaded the bases immediately on a hit and two walks, then walked Edwin Encarnacion to force in a run, after which he appeared to bark at home plate umpire Paul Emmel.
Not too often you will see Lester struggle to hit his spots that much. He threw just four strikes out of 16 pitches through those first four hitters.
The Blue Jays got another run on a fielder's choice and then a third when Adrian Gonzalez, of all people, dropped a pop down the line in right.
So you had Jon Lester walking three and Adrian Gonzalez dropping a popup. Pretty rough stuff.
Lester throws 25 pitches overall.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox get a hit, a walk and two stolen bases but nobody even reaches third. The reason? Another baserunning mistake, something of which we have seen a bit too much from Boston this year.
Jacoby Ellsbury had the hit to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, then stole second. Dustin Pedroia walked and the Red Sox instantly had young Kyle Drabek in some hot water.
With Boston's best hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, at the plate and Drabek scuffling, Ellsbury somehow manages to get picked off at second. Give Drabek and shortstop Yunel Escobar credit for executing, but not a good job by Ellsbury to stifle that rally.
Pedroia stole second but Drabek fanned both Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis.
7:07 p.m.: Kyle Drabek's first pitch is a ball away to Jacoby Ellsbury, and we are off and running.
6:37 p.m.: A few pregame notes to pass on.
Tim Wakefield has officially become the oldest player in Red Sox history, moving past Deacon McGuire, who was 44 years, 280 days when he played his last game for the team nearly 103 years ago.
Wakefield is 44 years, 281-days-old as of today. He is also available to pitch after a few days to recover from his start Friday night.
The Sox have been within a game of .500 three times (0-1, 10-11, and 14-15). They have lost the next game each time, which has prevented them from reaching the even mark all season. It is the latest they've gone into a season without reaching .500 since 1996, when they went to the 128th game before hitting that point. Of course, that doesn't include losing seasons, only those in which they did reach .500 at one time or another.
Boston was 18-17 at this time last year, so just a game off the pace.
Lastly, there's Jon Lester. He is 8-4 with a 3.30 ERA in 14 starts against Toronto, but if you take out what was the worst start of his career, against the Jays in Fenway Park last year, the numbers are much better. In fact, removing that outing, he has a 1.53 ERA in his last eight starts against Toronto.
5:28 p.m.: As first suspected in these pages days ago, the Red Sox will skip Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation this time around and set up their best trio for the upcoming series in New York (I don't know that for a fact, but it's fun to say, and we were pretty early in speculating).
It makes all the sense in the world. Matsuzaka had the recent elbow issues, and the screwy week with the relief outing. He seems to be fine physically, but if there is anyone that can gain from hitting the "reset" button and getting some extra rest, it's him.
That lines up Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester this coming weekend in Yankee Stadium, all on regular rest. A perfect recipe for the biggest series of the year so far. New York will counter with Bartolo Colon, CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia.
3:01 p.m.: Jon Lester often doesn't need much support, but here are the guys who will be backing him in the opener in Toronto:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, RF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
And here is the lineup for Toronto:
Yunel Escobar, C
Corey Patterson, LF
Jose Bautista, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Juan Rivera, DH
J.P. Arencibia, C
John McDonald, 3B
Rajai Davis, CF
We will be back in a bit with pregame news and notes.
8 a.m.: Following a 6-5 homestand, the Red Sox finally hit the road again on Tuesday, when they open a quick two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jon Lester, who is 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA over his last six starts, will be on the mound for Boston. Rookie Kyle Drabek will face the Red Sox for the first time in his career.
The contest marks the first of five straight on the road, and the first of seven in a row against American League East opponents for Boston. It also gives the Sox a chance to get back to .500, a mark they have not seen yet this year.
First pitch at Rogers Centre is 7:07 p.m.
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