Red Sox Live Blog: Jonathan Papelbon Survives the Ninth, Red Sox Enter Final Day of Regular Season Tied With Tampa Bay

Red Sox Live Blog: Jonathan Papelbon Survives the Ninth, Red Sox Enter Final Day of Regular Season Tied With Tampa Bay Final, Red Sox 8-7: That whooshing sound you just heard was that of millions of New Englanders exhaling at once.

Two singles and an RBI groundout gives the Orioles a run and brings up Adam Jones with the tying run on second base.

Ten pitches later, six of which Jones fouled off, Jonathan Papelbon got a grounder to third to end it.

The run was the first Papelbon has ever allowed in Camden Yards (sorry for the jinx, tweeps), but the O’s needed two. It doesn’t have to be pretty right now. It just has to go into the proper column.

So it’s one for the road, a road that will either take the Sox back to Boston, on to Tampa Bay or perhaps on to Detroit or Texas. We will follow all the action for you in game No. 162 tomorrow night. You don’t want to miss it.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 8-6: OK, hold onto your hats people.

Jonathan Papelbon will face the heart of the Orioles order. J.J. Hardy is 0-for-5 against him. Nick Markakis is 5-for-17. Vladimir Guerrero is 1-for-13.

End 8th, Red Sox 8-6: Daniel Bard’s September ERA soars to 11.70 after he gives up two runs in the sixth.

A four-run lead is shaved in half and it will be up to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth to keep the Sox in a tie for the wild card.

Obviously that means the Rays won. And you know they’re facing about eight different Yankees relievers tomorrow in a game that will mean nothing but rest for New York, so this ninth inning becomes the biggest of the season for Boston.

Until tomorrow.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 8-4: The O’s made a pitching change after the Lavarnway homer and get the final out of the eighth.

Here comes Daniel Bard.

9:49 p.m.: The Red Sox have powered up tonight, and in the process have christened a star.

Ryan Lavarnway has exploded onto the scene (more nationally than locally…we already knew he could do this) with his second home run of the night.

Coming into the season, the organization was aware of Lavarnway’s power potential, but he was such a work in progress behind the plate that seeing him in a major league uniform this year was not necessarily expected. He would start 2011 at Double-A, and maybe get to Pawtucket if things go well.

Here he is in a must-win game No. 161 doing everything asked of him behind the plate and carrying the offense.

End 7th, Red Sox 7-4: Alfredo Aceves is incredible. It’s actually sometimes shocking to see that he has an ERA in the mid-2s. He sneaks those runs in when you don’t really care as much, but seems to always get bad contact or a big strikeout when it matters most.

With a man on second and two outs in the seventh, Aceves gets the dangerous Vladimir Guerrero to ground to second. Daniel Bard had gotten up in the inning, so he will come on in the eighth.

Aceves threw 36 pitches. That’s it. In 3 1/3 innings. Don’t count him out for tomorrow’s game, and don’t rule him out for a start at some point if the season gets extended to Thursday or Friday.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-4: Just as the Red Sox go down in order, the Rays grab a 5-3 lead on the Yankees in the seventh.

Things remain very much up in the air, but it is looking like the two teams will enter the last day tied.

Alfredo Aceves remains out there. He’s thrown 2 2/3 innings so far.

End 6th, Red Sox 7-4: Just as we speculate on Alfredo Aceves’ length tonight, he promptly serves up a rare home run, making it a three-run game.

Aceves had a scoreless streak of 12 2/3 innings snapped. It was the just the second home run he has allowed since July 19.

True to form, Aceves shows almost no care for the blast and promptly retires the next three in order.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 7-3: Saw this point raised by a colleague on Twitter. How long do you stick with Alfredo Aceves here?

He has thrown 48 pitches spread over three days. Maybe one more inning? You figure he will be vital tomorrow and possibly Thursday and Friday. But here he is protecting a four-run lead.

Probably shows the incredible trust that Terry Francona has in him, as well as his lack of trust with other options.

9:08 p.m.: Words cannot describe what just happened to my computer. After multiple shutdowns, we seem to be up and running again. This thing is limping to the finish line. It’s cranked out a lot of stuff this year.

Anyway, here is what you missed. Alfredo Aceves stranded one in the bottom of the fifth and the Sox just got two on a triple by Carl Crawford and a home run by Marco Scutaro.

It is 7-3. There is another pitching change for Baltimore.

In case you missed it, there was a triple play in Tampa Bay turned by the Rays. That kept the Yankees lead at 3-2.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-3: Nick Markakis often hurts the Red Sox with his bat, especially at Fenway, but he just made an incredible catch that could prove to be the play of the game of Baltimore comes all the way back.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Ryan Lavarnway popped one down the line in right. Markakis raced roughly three miles from whereever he was standing to start the play and made a full extension to grab the ball an inch or so off the ground.

Saved at least two runs right there.

He’s such a solid player. Nothing too flashy, just good.

8:46 p.m.: I am actually surprised Buck Showalter sent Zach Britton out to begin the fifth. His bullpen has been very good against the Sox and he’s got plenty of arms out there. Also, Britton does not look good, and hasn’t for a few innings.

After getting the first out of the frame, Britton walks Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. With that, Jason Berken jogs in to take over.

End 4th, Red Sox 5-3: Two fly outs and Alfredo Aceves has done his job.

Who do you bring in to get through the sixth and seventh if Aceves doesn’t have that much in the tank? Doubront? Albers? Bard for five outs and Papelbon for four? Something like that?

Anyone?

Geez, thanks for the help.

8:33 p.m.: Another night, another extremely short start.

Spotted a four-run lead, Erik Bedard just gave up a two-run homer to Matt Wieters and then put the tying runs on base with a walk and a single.

He lasts 3 1/3 innings before giving way to Alfredo Aceves, who threw 19 pitches Sunday and 16 last night. This will be a truly heroic outing if he can go two innings or so and keep the score right where it is.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 5-1: Wouldn’t you know it. Ryan Lavarnway gets his first major league start behind the plate and does exactly what he did for several months in the minors this year.

After getting ahead 3-0, Lavarnway lined a 3-2 fastball from Zach Britton into the left-field seats for a three-run homer, his first in the bigs. He just missed one when a drive back in August at Kansas City hit the top of the wall and fell back into play.

David Ortiz had led off the inning with a wall-ball single to right. Adrian Gonzalez singled one out later before Lavarnway’s big blast.

The Red Sox dugout was as jubilant as I’ve seen it since the celebration after Tim Wakefield won his 200th.

So much for my assertion that Zach Britton ain’t no joke. He’ll have some good days, but seems to be the implodable type.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: It was the third inning where things fell apart for Erik Bedard his last time out, although he was hurt by Josh Reddick’s dropped fly ball.

Bedard manages to get out of the third this time, but he needs 30 pitches to do it. Robert “That Guy” Andino had a 13-pitch at-bat in that third inning at Fenway, ending in a single. He saw 12 pitches from Bedard this time, but eventually struck out.

That may be the difference between Bedard still being out there or not. The lefty has five strikeouts. He has thrown 65 pitches.

On Aug. 31, when all was right in Red Sox land, both Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz homered. It was the 24th for Ellsbury, the 28th for Ortiz.

Ellsbury now has three more than Ortiz.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: OK, Jacoby Ellsbury’s done his usual thing. The question is: Will anyone else help out?

There have been numerous games this month where Ellsbury does loads of damage and the Red Sox still find a way to lose. They hope that’s not the case after Ellsbury hammers home run No. 32.

It came after Marco Scutaro had doubled, which came after two deep flies to left. Zach Britton gave them plenty to hit in that inning.

It’s 2-0 Tampa Bay.

End 2nd, Orioles 1-0: What a strange end to the second inning, certainly nothing I’ve ever seen before.

After Ryan Lavarnway threw out Adam Jones trying to steal third for the second out, Erik Bedard went up and in on Chris Davis with a 3-2 count.

Davis was hit by the pitch but also swung at it, which means it is a strikeout. However, the ball caromed off him and bounced to the backstop, so he had a chance to take first. Finally, there was a recovery and an out at first, but nobody knew what had happened there for a few seconds.

It’s Bedard’s third strikeout of the game.

Mid 2nd, Orioles 1-0: That’s an eight-pitch inning for Zach Britton. Jed Lowrie and Ryan Lavarnway both made outs in the air and Adrian Gonzalez bounced one weakly to second.

In addition to location and effectiveness and all that, it’s obviously important to keep an eye on Erik Bedard’s pitch count. It rose in a hurry his last time out and he begins the second with his 23rd of the night.

I imagine the best-case scenario for him would be 75-80 pitches.

End 1st, Orioles 1-0: How often are we lauding Carl Crawford for saving the Red Sox?

After the way the bottom of the first played out, his great catch may have helped limit the damage.

Erik Bedard had a 3-2 count on J.J. Hardy, who poked one toward the seats down the left-field line. Crawford raced over and reached into the stands to haul it in, the kind of grab we hoped to see just a little more of this year.

That gave Bedard two quick outs, but he threw four straight balls to Nick Markakis and then gave up a ringing double to Vladimir Guerrero that allowed Markakis to come around from first.

The way Bedard was losing the zone early, you wonder how that Hardy at-bat would’ve played out if Crawford did not make that grab.

Still, the O’s strike first. Feels familiar, doesn’t it?

Mid 1st, 0-0: With a heavy rain beginning to fall in Baltimore (just what we need, right?), Zach Britton works around a one-out single by Dustin Pedroia by getting David Ortiz to hit into an easy double play.

Britton ain’t no joke, He started the year 5-1 with a 2.63 ERA. He is 6-4 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and .219 opponents batting average at home. And if you take out back-to-back horrendous starts against the Yankees and Red Sox back in June, his overall mark would be 11-8 with a 3.68 ERA.

Not bad for being on the last-place team in the AL East.

7:07 p.m.: Zach Britton has started Jacoby Ellsbury off with a ball. Settle in folks, and please note that we also have Rays-Yankees live blog going on the site. We have you covered!

6:34 p.m.: A full plate of lasagna in my belly, I’m ready for game No. 161.

Never thought it would ever be this important.

For a pretty thorough take on the incredible nature of this collapse, take a look at this New York Times breakdown. Good stuff in there.

Also, since we know that Jon Lester’s start will have some importance, take a look at one cause for concern, aside from the fact that he gave up four runs on nine hits in just five innings the only other time he pitched on short rest.

Leftover from last night we have a look into whether Jacoby Ellsbury’s near-catch was the most “are you kidding me?” play of this slide.

Also, there’s the Beckett/Lester issue.

Finally, for a good closing note, a shred of hope.

5:36 p.m.: We have learned a few things since we last spoke.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia should be available to play and told Terry Francona he could start, but the skipper went with the healthier guy. Saltalamacchia has been beat up in general lately and there is a lefty on the mound, so he would bat from his weaker side anyway. Lavarnway normally hits lefties very well.

These are definitely do-or-die games, but you also have to consider what your team will be like if and when you reach the playoffs. The Sox will need Saltalamacchia in October, and he is a bruised and battered dude right now. A night off, albeit a very ill-timed one, may be in everyone’s best interest.

Erik Bedard said he was fine throwing to Ryan Lavarnway, having thrown to him in the bullpen and feeling pretty comfortable.

Clay Buchholz will throw in Florida again tomorrow and will join the team in the playoffs (if and when).

Finally, I keep hearing people talk about how Josh Beckett did not step up. I agree completely. However, just because the two starts were against the Orioles is not really the reason to rail against him. Baltimore’s issue, as has been the case for years with this team, is pitching. Has been all year. They aren’t the world’s worst offense, ranking fourth in the AL in home runs, sixth in hitting and seventh in runs.

The whole “He couldn’t even shut down the Orioles!” argument doesn’t fly all that far. Beckett fell flat twice, but it was against an average to an above-average offense (and one that’s played well in September), not the sisters of the poor.

3:50 p.m.: While the Red Sox look for some sort of winning formula, Buck Showalter is largely sticking with what works. The only major change in his lineup today is the move of Robert Andino from ninth to first.

Considering how much Andino has hurt the Sox of late, it’s hard to argue.

Here is the lineup against Erik Bedard:

Robert Andino, 2B
J.J. Hard, SS
Nick Markakis, RF
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Matt Wieters, C
Adam Jones, CF
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Chris Davis, 3B
Nolan Reimold, LF

Jones has had the most success against Bedard, going 5-for-9 (.556) with a double and a walk.

2:49 p.m.: Admit it. This was the lineup you expected to see with the season on the line, right?

What lineup? This lineup:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Darnell McDonald RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Marco Scutaro, SS

Obviously Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are not ready to go. We will have updates on them a little later on.

The more shocking aspect of the lineup is the insertion of Jed Lowrie into the cleanup spot for the first time in his career. Lowrie, as is well documented, hits lefties very well and will face one in Zach Britton tonight. Also, he’s hot, ripping a double, triple and a home run in the last two games.

8 a.m. ET: Erik Bedard had many good starts in Camden Yards during his days with the Baltimore Orioles. He’s never had one with as much importance as the one he will make Tuesday night as a member of the Red Sox.

With Boston in a flat-footed tie in the wild-card race, Bedard will make just his third start of the month, and the second straight against his former team. The lefty returned from a 16-day layoff seven days ago against the Orioles at home, but lasted only 2 2/3 innings in a 7-5 loss.

Bedard is 20-18 with a 3.52 ERA in his career at Camden Yards.

It remains to be seen whether Bedard will be throwing to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek or one of the two September call-ups on the roster. Varitek was unable to go Monday because of a bruised knee and Saltalamacchia left the 6-3 loss when he took a foul ball off his right collarbone in the eighth inning.
Ryan Lavarnway took over behind the plate for Saltalamacchia, whose X-rays were negative. Luis Exposito is also with the club.

Baltimore counters with lefty Zach Britton, who is 5-1 with a 3.83 ERA over his last six starts. Britton owns a 2.71 ERA at home this year.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.