Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey Hit Hard as Red Sox Drop Series Opener to Blue Jays 9-7

Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey Hit Hard as Red Sox Drop Series Opener to Blue Jays 9-7

Postgame, Blue Jays 9-7: A relatively uneventful postgame clubhouse as several players exited long before the bulk of reporters arrived.

We learned a couple of items from Terry Francona, one positive and one that has a chance to become negative.

Carl Crawford has been cleared to run the bases, his last major hurdle in his effort to return to the lineup. That could mean that he returns on this homestand, although that remains up in the air.

Clay Buchholz is going to see Dr. Craig Bingham in North Carolina for a second opinion on his back, which continues to give him problems. Francona said Buchholz is fine in pretty much every activity, but is sore during and after pitching.

Look for more on the site regarding these situations, as well as plenty on John Lackey’s day.

Tomorrow night sees a pair of lefties go at it when Brett Cecil opposes Jon Lester. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.

Final, Blue Jays 9-7: When Jacoby Ellsbury singled off Frank Francisco and then Dustin Pedroia worked a 3-0 count, it almost felt inevitable that the Red Sox would tie it or win it in the ninth.

Give Francisco credit for battling back to first get Pedroia and then both Adrian Gonzalez and Yamaico Navarro swinging.

Good effort to make it interesting in the end, but John Lackey dug this team too deep of a whole.

Off to hear from him and the rest of the crew. Back soon.

Mid 9th, Blue Jays 9-7: On the game’s 316th pitch, Matt Albers gets Travis Snider on a chopper to Yamaico Navarro.

Frank Francisco will be facing the top of the order in an effort to pick up his 10th save. He is 0-3 with a 12.51 ERA in his career vs. Boston.

End 8th, Blue Jays 9-7: We might end up watching the fireworks from the press box. This one ain’t ending anytime soon.

The Red Sox have made things tight again with a three-run rally in the eighth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the star, hammering a triple off the center-field portion of the Green Monster and then scoring on a sac fly by J.D. Drew.

A misplay in the outfield allowed Salty’s hit to be for three bases, thus making Drew’s liner to left fruitful. Center fielder Rajai Davis allowed the carom to fly past him back into the field of play, the second time the Jays have done that today. It’s almost as if the Toronto outfielders took no balls off the Monster today. Actually, I didn’t see them doing so, and they look completely lost out there.

That should have been a double. If it was, Toronto leads by three instead of two.

Matt Albers is throwing the ninth.

Mid 8th, Blue Jays 9-4: Franklin Morales walked the only man he faced in the eighth, but promptly picked him off to end the inning.

Jason Frasor is the new Toronto pitcher.

I’ve been inclined…

4:27 p.m.: Ah, the jinx is alive.

Moments after lauding Alfredo Aceves for his work (just one unearned run in his first two innings), he gives up a single and an RBI double with two outs in the eighth.

Great relay by the Red Sox made the play at the plate on the double very close. Terry Francona offered a mild argument, but the call was the right one.

That was a perfect throw from Dustin Pedroia.

Franklin Morales is on with two outs and Rajai Davis on third (after his double, Davis advanced on the throw home).

End 7th, Blue Jays 8-4: Adrian Gonzalez has now hit into two more double plays than anyone else in the game after his 20th twin killing ends a threat in the seventh.

Alfredo Aceves is about to begin his third inning of work. Great job by the two relievers to keep this one manageable for Terry Francona.

Mid 7th, Blue Jays 8-4: A great play with the backhand by Yamaico Navarro takes a hit away from Jose Bautista.

However, after a walk, Navarro allows a ball to go right through the wickets and into the corner in left. Adam Lind scores all the way from first on the play.

Navarro taketh away, Navarro giveth. Such is the nature of young players.

Fittingly, Navarro made a rather routing play for the final out.

That gets us to the seventh-inning stretch, my cue for a lemonade. Nothing says July 4 than a lemonade during the stretch. And reality shows about people who hoard cats.

End 6th, Blue Jays 7-4: Terry Francona lets off a little steam built up over the course of the long road trip.

After a bang-bang play at first base goes against the Red Sox (Saltalamacchia called out…replays suggest he barely beat it), Francona lets Brian Knight know what he really thinks of interleague play.

That was the second out of the inning. Darnell McDonald’s strikeout was the first. J.D. Drew’s strikeout was the last.

3:40 p.m.: That’s Brandon Morrow for you. Can be so dominant one moment, a piece of meat the next.

Morrow gets a chance to right his wrongs from the fifth inning but walks David Ortiz on four straight pitches to begin the sixth.

That’s enough for John Farrell. Lefty Luis Perez is on to face Darnell McDonald, who is hitting for Josh Reddick.

Mid 6th, Blue Jays 7-4: Great job by Alfredo Aceves of getting out of trouble.

A double by Travis Snider, his third of the game, and a sacrifice bunt puts a man on third with just one out.

Aceves gets John McDonald to pop to Adrian Gonzalez in foul territory and then Marco Scutaro in fair territory.

Many Toronto beat writers are debating the decision to bunt right there. Many figure that with McDonald up next, it doesn’t do much. He entered the game hitting .197, so there was a good chance Aceves could get the second out there and the defense could reset (it had been drawn in with McDonald up).

I don’t think playing for a run there is all that bad an idea. But I’m in the third row of a press box, and not in uniform. Or am I? Yep, wearing an Uncle Sam outfit today.

End 5th, Blue Jays 7-4: Brandon Morrow got the first two outs in the fifth, blowing a 97 mph fastball by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

To that point, Morrow had allowed just two singles and no player to reach second base. Things were about to change.

J.D. Drew singled up the middle and Marco Scutaro walked. That set up Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-run double off the wall in center field.

That was Ellsbury’s first triple since Game 2 of the 2009 Division Series and his first in the regular season since Sept. 23, 2009.

Ellsbury then scampered home on a passed ball that also happened to be ball four to Dustin Pedroia. Then, the Blue Jays’ marginal outfield defense helped Boston’s cause.

Adrian Gonzalez lofted a fly off the Green Monster. Rookie Eric Thames, playing for the first time in front of that large wall, got caught in between going to the wall to try to make a leaping catch and backing up to play the carom.

The ball bounced sharply past Thames, who was way too close to the wall to play it, and rolled toward the infield. That allowed Pedroia to score from first. If the play had been made properly, it’s not a certainty that Pedroia gets all the way around.

The mistake is magnified when Yamaico Navarro grounds to second to end it.

Alfredo Aceves is on to work the sixth.

Mid 5th, Blue Jays 7-0: One positive has emerged in the form of Dan Wheeler, who has retired eight in a row since coming on in relief of John Lackey.

Wheeler has been pretty solid since coming off the disabled list, and is doing the pen a service in this one.

Alfredo Aceves figures to be the next in line. He is warming in the pen.

End 4th, Blue Jays 7-0: Not a great day at the park for the hometown boys.

With two outs in the fourth, Kevin Youkilis takes a pitch off his left shoulder or the back of his neck. He was down for a bit and removed in favor of a pinch runner.

With a 7-0 game, and with Youkilis already limping his day away, you might as well get him out of there. Seems like something happens to him on a daily basis.

Yamaico Navarro took over for Youkilis on the bases and will stay in the game at third base.

Mid 4th, Blue Jays 7-0: A 1-2-3 for Dan Wheeler settles things down a bit.

Prior to that, the Jays had scored 11 runs in a span of four innings. They hit three home runs and scored four times off Cliff Lee in their final ups yesterday at home.

Since we brought up the John Lackey ERAs earlier, here is where they stand.

At Fenway this year: 9.17

In day games this year: 8.65

In day games with Boston: 6.85

Against Toronto this year: 12.00

End 3rd, Blue Jays 7-0: A Marco Scutaro two-out single gets the die-hards going a bit in the bottom of the third.

A Jacoby Ellsbury fly to right sends the die-hards to the loo.

Brandon Morrow doesn’t have to do anything special right now. With a seven-run lead he can be rather free and easy and trust his defense, which actually isn’t all that great.

Dan Wheeler will work the fourth and perhaps the fifth if he doesn’t run into many lenghty at-bats.

Mid 3rd, Blue Jays 7-0: In 65 pitches, John Lackey recorded seven outs and gave up nine hits.

In four pitches, Dan Wheeler recorded two outs.

Lackey’s line: 2.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.

From what I can recall, eight of the nine hits were on the nose.

It should be interesting to see how the Red Sox address this matter going forward. Lackey’s ERA is at 7.47. It’s July 4.

2:27 p.m.: If you are a devoted follower of this live blog, well, we’re sorry for your misfortune. But at least you will remember a note put forth a few days ago about the wacky game times on the Boston schedule.

Beginning Wednesday in Philadelphia, they play seven straight games with a different start. The stretch goes like this (all times ET): 7:05, 1:05, 8:05, 7:05, 2:05, 1:35, 7:10.

We put a star around this particular game as one in which you might see some lackluster play. Boston had to fly home after yesterday’s game in Houston and then play a day game to open a homestand, a very rare and awkward turnaround.

Lackluster play is exactly what you’re getting. Then again, so much of that depends upon your starting pitcher, and John Lackey isn’t doing much to get his team going.

The Blue Jays have eight hits in the last two innings alone. Four singles and a double leads to four runs in the third and prompts Terry Francona to bring the hook.

Lackey was being booed louder with each hit, and the emergence of Francona ellicited cheers. Another ugly outing for Lackey, and you have to wonder two things. One, is the elbow becoming an issue, and two, because he is so poor at home, is the pressure getting to him in Fenway Park.

End 2nd, Blue Jays 3-0: Josh Reddick is young and still learning. Among the items he will take from this game is to never nap on Jose Molina.

After reaching on a strikeout-wild pitch, Reddick is promptly picked off first when Molina fires down.

The Toronto backstop is known for such things. Now, Reddick is aware.

Because of a caught stealing and the pickoff, Brandon Morrow has faced the minimum despite allowing two to reach so far.

Mid 2nd, Blue Jays 3-0: Aaron Hill was one of the guys in the Toronto lineup that had not done well against John Lackey, but that goes out the window after Hill takes Lackey deep one out into the second.

Travis Snider followed with a double and eventually scored when John McDonald’s bloop fell in front of Jacoby Ellsbury.

To update some of those Lackey numbers, he now has a 6.48 ERA in day games as a member of the Red Sox and has an 8.21 mark at home this year. Not good.

By the way, if you have the feeling that there’s something a bit different about the crowd today, you’re right. The place is abuzz with the presence of NESN’s own John Beattie and his lovely fiance Lynn DiTaranto (daughter of the great Dr. Vinny DiTaranto of Quinsigamond Community College), who are down the first-base line.

We all wish them well on their upcoming nuptials.

End 1st, Blue Jays 1-0: Brandon Morrow has seemingly turned a corner since his last encounter with the Red Sox.

You will recall he gave up nine runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings vs. Boston at home last month.

That was the 16-4 game, still the best offensive showing of the season for the Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury had designs on burying Morrow early, leading off the bottom of the first with a single.

But Morrow, whose stuff is excellent, got Dustin Pedroia to hit into a force and then escaped the inning on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out. Pedroia was out by plenty. It’s just the third time in 19 SB attempts that Pedroia has been out.

Mid 1st, Blue Jays 1-0: The Red Sox should make one move at the trade deadline. Acquire Rajai Davis, just so they don’t have to face him again.

Davis improved to 8-for-21 (.381) this year against Boston with a leadoff double. He then broke for third and swiped his fifth base in six meetings with the Sox, scoring when Kevin Youkilis allows the ball to trickle away.

The error is charged to Youkilis, but it is an earned run for John Lackey.

1:36 p.m.: Rajai Davis leads this one off with a double to get the Toronto bats going. We are under way.

12:30 p.m.: John Lackey has sort of entered that Daisuke Matsuzaka realm where you don’t quite know what you’re going to get.

He has had four or five downright ugly starts this year, as well as three or four that were really encouraging.

Lackey’s last week is a perfect example. He looks lost in a rain-soaked start against lowly San Diego at home, and then performs very well at Philadelphia, albeit in a losing effort.

Unfortunately for Lackey, history is not on his side today. He has struggled at home all year (7.88 ERA), has a 5.12 ERA in his career vs. Toronto (10.45 ERA vs. Jays at Fenway) and owns a 6.32 ERA in 15 day games as a member of the Red Sox.

Those are some ugly numbers, my friends. To put forth a quality effort against a pretty good hitting club, he will have to buck several trends.

Here is the lineup against Lackey, followed by a few numbers:

Rajai Davis, CF
Eric Thames, LF
Jose Bautista, 3B
Adam Lind, 1B
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Travis Snider, RF
Jose Molina, C
John McDonald, SS

Davis and Lind are the ones to watch. Davis is 9-for-24 (.375) against Lackey. Lind is a rather awesome 12-for-21 (.571) with six doubles vs. the righty. Bautista is just 3-for-17, but two of the hits have been homers.

11:31 a.m.: There’s plenty of red, white and blue in the park today, including on those rather unsightly hats the Sox will wear.

They are red with a white front and then a star-spangled B. And as you know, it’s better to look good than to feel good, so this could be a rough afternoon.

On the subject of players feeling well or not, we have minor updates on Carl Crawford and Clay Buchholz.

Barring anything out of the ordinary, Buchholz will not pitch on this homestand. That was the assumption during the nine-game road trip, but now that the club has arrived home, it’s more definitive.

“I don’t think he’s going to pitch this homestand,” said manager Terry Francona. “He’s been down too long. We’ll just stay right in order.”

Buchholz, who had his lower back tightly wrapped this morning walking around the clubhouse, will see Dr. Tom Gill today to see where things stand.

Francona: “We’ll move on from there and see where we need to go with this. Hopefully today we’ll learn some things.”

As for Crawford, he also will see Gill today. Crawford looked good taking some balls in the outfield earlier this morning, but has yet to get to the stage where he runs the bases. That will be a critical step.

“He’s got to go full speed on the bases, for his own peace of mind,” Francona said.

By the sounds of it, we may not see Crawford until after the All-Star break, unless Gill gives him the go-ahead to increase the workouts today. It’s clear the left fielder is at least a couple of days away, and there shouldn’t be any need to rush him back before the four-day intermission — use those days off and make sure he’s 100 percent for the second half of the season.

Back with more in a bit.

9:57 a.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where the field looks as good as it ever has, simply gleaming for this July 4 matinee.

The Red Sox have put up a lineup a bit more in line with what we can expect to see going forward. Welcome back, DH.

Here it is:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Josh Reddick, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
J.D. Drew, RF
Marco Scutaro, SS

8 a.m.: Although it came in a losing effort, John Lackey’s last start was one of the high points of the Red Sox’ nine-game National League road trip.

Lackey will look to translate his success in that outing in a return to Fenway Park, where Boston opens up a seven-game homestand Monday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lackey lasted 7 2/3 innings in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday, contributing an RBI double for his team’s only offense. Still, Lackey has a 7.88 ERA at home this year, and his last outing in the rain against San Diego was one of his worst. He will be looking to erase that memory facing a team against whom he owns a 5.12 ERA — Lackey’s second-highest mark among American League teams not housed in Boston.

Lackey will be looking for some of the same run support his team provided the last time he was matched up against Toronto starter Brandon Morrow.

Morrow gave up nine runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings that day in Rogers Centre. He was the losing pitcher in a 16-4 Red Sox drubbing. Since then, Morrow is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA.

First pitch for this holiday matinee is 1:35 p.m.

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