Final, Red Sox 13-2: Phew. Jonathan Papelbon somehow manages to protect an 11-run lead.
The Red Sox’ fortunes have turned in an instant. They get Jacoby Ellsbury back one day and the offense blows up. David Ortiz returns the next night and the run support is even greater.
Next up on the list of (potential) victims is Alexi Ogando, who starts for the Rangers opposite Andrew Miller on Thursday night.
It is an 8:05 p.m. start. Look for the live blog to be up and running well in advance.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 13-2: The Yankees have lost, so the Red Sox will assume first place in a matter of moments. The clubs remain tied in the loss column.
Here comes Jonathan Papelbon in a decidedly non-save situation. Just a little work.
End 8th, Red Sox 13-2: Certainly seems as if Matt Albers is going to get a chance to work out some kinks in low-pressure situations.
He enters in the eighth and promptly gives up a run on a Mike Napoli RBI single. Albers has allowed at least one run in six of his last nine outings.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 13-1: The Red Sox have hit a two-run homer in three straight innings, the latest a blast by Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth.
That’s the fifth time in Gonzalez’s career that he followed up a multi-homer game with another shot the very next time out.
It was also rather dramatic the way he sent one deep but foul on one pitch and then deep but fair on the very next.
Boston has outscored Texas 24-6 the last two nights. So much for issues in Arlington. You actually start to wonder if this continues into next game how the Rangers will react. Wouldn’t shock me to see someone get buzzed if the Sox are up 9-1 in the fifth tomorrow night.
Ryan Lavarnway is making his debut as a catcher for the Red Sox right now.
End 7th, Red Sox 11-1: I’ll admit that the toughest updates to give you are the ones after a half inning late in a rout. How can we really break down an easy inning by Franklin Morales in a 10-run game?
How about just passing on a story. My boy, who just turned two, was watching some baseball highlights earlier tonight. Upon seeing a player slide in at home, he said, “Oooohhh, slippery.”
That’s better than a Morales 1-2-3 any day.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 11-1: It’s become a laugher, and the one guy who has to be feeling as giddy as anyone is Carl Crawford.
His turnaround continues with a two-run bomb to straightaway center field. The shot gives Crawford a career high-tying five RBI. He is batting .375 (9-for-25) during his seven-game hitting streak.
Franklin Morales is your new pitcher.
End 6th, Red Sox 9-1: Another fantastic running catch for Jacoby Ellsbury just adds to his incredible first two days back.
In a way, I keep waiting for Ellsbury to have some sort of swoon, but his quality play has come in a relentless fashion.
The catch helps Josh Beckett work around a one-out single and finish the sixth at 110 pitches.
That’s got to be it for him. No need to push the issue with an eight-run lead. We believe that’s the same reason Dustin Pedroia is out of the game. Mike Aviles took over at second base in the sixth.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 9-1: We mentioned in this piece that David Ortiz’s layoff may hinder his pursuit of a certain statistical goal.
I was thinking the same thing about Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed those three games just as the 30/30 discussion was building.
But with a two-run bomb to right in the sixth, that talk can begin anew. It is Ellsbury’s 23rd of the season and it gives him 81 RBI.
David Ortiz’s team lead in homers is now one. Again, that’s over Jacoby Ellsbury.
End 5th, Red Sox 7-1: Josh Beckett doesn’t need to prove to anybody he’s a good pitcher. But you have to like the way he shook off a life-flash-before-your-eyes kind of moment in the fifth.
After the Rangers had a pair of singles to begin the inning, Beckett got the first out and then faced Ian Kinsler with one down. Kinsler smoked a rocket back at Beckett’s head, but the righty somehow got his glove up while turning his body and the liner nestled right inside it.
People like myself would have peed their pants, or at least thrown the next four pitches to the screen. Beckett got ahead of Elvis Andrus 0-2 before getting him on a much less imposing liner to second.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 7-1: David Ortiz may have done more base running in his first game back from right heel bursitis than he did in every game before the issue. Combined.
Ortiz doubled, moved to third on a bunt and then slid home on a Carl Crawford sacrifice fly, drawing some sarcastic rave reviews from the Boston bench.
Crawford is batting .320 (8-for-25) with six RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
End 4th, Red Sox 6-1: As we sit here today, it doesn’t seem likely that Josh Beckett will have enough support for a Cy Young Award.
But let’s consider a few things. We know wins don’t mean much anymore to voters after Felix Hernandez took home the prize last year. So if he ends up with 14 or so, who cares?
And perhaps those now-wiser voters will take into account his measly run support (Jered Weaver’s is worse, though). And, if they are ever interested in quality of opponent, that could help out Beckett.
After this start Beckett will face the Yankees for the fifth time and then, in all likelihood, the Rangers once more. Let’s just say he gets through this start and those two with a show of dominance, will he then rise up the list?
Probably bad timing on my part to throw out this thought after Beckett gave up his first run, but whatever. It was an eye-level fastball that Mike Napoli (who else?) crushed for a solo shot in the fourth.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 6-0: When the Red Sox were really going well back in July, many of their games took on the feel of a methodical beatdown.
You may get a run here and there and your pitcher might have a perfect third inning, but the next rally was right around the corner. And on nights when Josh Beckett is on the mound, it’s only amplified.
Boston has now outscored Texas 17-4 in the last two games after adding another in the fourth. Darnell McDonald reached on an infield hit when Elvis Andrus failed to charge a ball at short and was too late with the throw. After Jacoby Ellsbury moved McDonald to second on a grounder to second, Marco Scutaro doubled in a run.
After Scutaro’s hit, the top five hitters in the order were 7-for-11 with four RBI and five runs scored.
End 3rd, Red Sox 5-0: If the Rangers can take any solace in going down in order against Josh Beckett in the third, it lies in the fact that two of the hitters made him work.
Both Omar Quintanilla and Elvis Andrus saw nine pitches in their at-bats.
Beckett’s pitch count through three is 60. He’ll need some quick ones to have a chance at seven. Six may be difficult at this pace.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 5-0: There’s been so much talk in Boston of the “battle” between John Lackey and Erik Bedard for a Game 3 start in the playoffs.
My response to that is for fans to just be satisfied that you have two great pitchers in front of them in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
Just look at the Rangers. After C.J. Wilson comes Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison. While both have had some nice runs this season, do either engender much confidence right now if you had to throw them against the Red Sox?
Perhaps Alexi Ogando can make an argument for a Game 2 or 3 start, but he lacks experience. Derek Holland has good stuff, but a 4.42 ERA.
The Rangers are a good team and everyone has seen them dominate the Sox, but they may be having an argument over who even starts Game 2.
Oh, Harrison had a 1-2-3 third.
End 2nd, Red Sox 5-0: The wind has calmed down. So has the early command issues for Josh Beckett.
Beckett needed just 13 pitches to retire the side in order in the second.
He entered with a run support average of 3.73, the lowest on the staff except for Erik Bedard, but he’s been here for such a short time. The working conditions are a bit different for Beckett tonight.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 5-0: Strange game, this baseball.
After losing 4-0 in the series opener, the Red Sox took a 6-0 lead in three innings last night and are up 5-0 already in this one.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole second and later scored on Dustin Pedroia’s single. Both of those guys are 2-for-2, Ellsbury scoring twice and Pedroia driving in a pair.
It’s the first time Pedroia has had more than one RBI in consecutive games since June 11-12.
End 1st, Red Sox 4-0: It seems as if we are talking about the elements so often when Josh Beckett is on the mound, but it’s usually rain. He just always seems to draw the assignment when the wet stuff comes.
One wonders if this howling wind is having any effect on his pitches. After getting the first two men he faced, Beckett lost the zone. He walked Josh Hamilton and Michael Young before striking out Mike Napoli with a 3-2 fastball.
There were moments where Beckett waited for a gust to get by before beginning his delivery. I think. Sometimes it is hard to tell with Beckett, who takes an eternity between pitches, especially with men on.
The righty threw 27 pitches, not what you want to see in this heat.
Oh, and we are on pace for about a five-hour game.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 4-0: Between earthquakes, hurricanes and heat waves, it was starting to seem a bit apocolyptic out there. Throw in whatever happened in the top of the first in Texas and I’m convinced our days are numbered.
Moments after Jacoby Ellsbury led off with an infield hit, extremely strong winds kicked up at the Ballpark. It caused Marco Scutaro to step out a couple of times before striking out.
After that, it was business as usual for the best offense in the game. Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz each singled. The last two drove in a run.
One out later, Carl Crawford doubled into the corner in right. That brought in Pedroia, but Ortiz was an easy out at home. Or was he? Ortiz, who hesitated rounding third and then bolted past the stop sign from Tim Bogar, conceded the out as the throw arrived as he was just halfway down the line.
But Mike Napoli, a rather poor defensive catcher, let the ball fly out of his glove. Ortiz scored a gift run and a very, very strange inning came to an end one batter later on a strikeout of Jason Varitek.
Somehow, Napoli was not given an error.
7:12 p.m.: Matt Harrison throws a first-pitch strike to Jacoby Ellsbury, some seven minutes after this game was supposed to start. I know ESPN picked it up in other markets and probably had something it needed to do, but that’s seven minutes I’ll never get back.
6:43 p.m.: Some readers have been asking about Hurricane Irene and its potential impact on the upcoming series at home against Oakland.
Terry Francona shed a little light on some of the discussions going on between the Sox and MLB.
It looks like Sunday will be an incredibly difficult day on which to play a game. So the options are to play a doubleheader Friday or Saturday.
This will obviously have to be announced by late tonight or early tomorrow if the doubleheader is Friday as the A’s are in New York on Thursday and would need to adjust accordingly. If they choose to do something Saturday, we may hear later on. The one problem with that is the threat of rain Saturday as the storm approaches.
Friday may literally be the only solid option.
6:00 p.m.: Time for some nightly links to get you all read up on the Red Sox.
First off, how did David Ortiz’s nine-game layoff impact the team, and what does it mean for his season stats?
We also have a take on the rotation going forward, and how one announcement can shed light on Terry Francona’s priorities.
The great Don Orsillo has answered questions in his weekly mailbag.
We also do our best to dig up some of the worst moments of your life.
Patrick McHugh took a look at some of the offensive strides being made in Pawtucket.
Finally, we had a raging debate over the merits (or not) of putting Little League baseball on national TV.
Take a look at each one. Then come back here for a final thought before first pitch at 7:05 p.m.
4:40 p.m.: As we sit here this moment, it is 107 degrees in Arlington.
Nothing Josh Beckett’s never faced before. Speaking of which, there’s nobody in this Rangers lineup he’s never faced before. Have a look:
Ian Kinsler, DH
Elvis Andrus, SS
Josh Hamilton, LF
Michael Young, 3B
Mike Napoli, C
Mitch Moreland, 1B
David Murphy, RF
Endy Chavez, CF
Omar Quintanilla, 2B
Hamilton is 6-for-12 with two home runs against Beckett. Moreland is 2-for-2 with a homer. Murphy is 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. Chavez is 9-for-25 (.360) with two triples. They’ve hurt Beckett before.
3:07 p.m.: Day by scorching day in Texas the Red Sox lineup is beginning to look more normal.
As anticipated, David Ortiz is back in there after a nine-game layoff.
Here’s the batting order against left-hander Matt Harrison:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
Jason Varitek, C
Darnell McDonald, RF
Ortiz actually has the best average of any starter against Harrison (.429, 3-for-7). The rest of the lineup is just 6-for-35 (.171). McDonald has the only homer.
8 a.m. ET: David Ortiz is expected back in the lineup when the Red Sox take on the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
Ortiz has missed nine games with right heel bursitis. He has been taking batting practice and gave the heel a test with some sprints Tuesday in Texas before getting medical clearance.
Josh Beckett will be on the mound for the Red Sox, making his first start of the season against the Rangers. He picked up his 10th win of the season his last time out in Kansas City, limiting the Royals to three runs in seven innings.
Beckett is just 2-2 with a 5.53 ERA in his career against Texas.
Rangers starter Matt Harrison has allowed 10 runs (seven earned) in just 9 2/3 innings in his last two starts, but both were on the road. He owns a 3.15 mark in Arlington this year.
First pitch is 7:05 p.m. ET.