Final, Red Sox 5-3 : Alfredo Aceves is starting to prove himself to be a fine choice for the closer of the Red Sox, turning in another fine performance to slam the door shut against the Rays to end this one.
The Sox got a fine effort from the bullpen — including some elaborate maneuvering from Bobby Valentine — to hold on for a 5-3 win.
Offensively, though, a lot of the credit has to go to Cody Ross. The right fielder made up for his stumble Wednesday night with a 2-for-3, four-RBI performance to pace the Red Sox offense.
The Sox now head to Philadelphia to open interleague play with three against the Phillies.
Middle 9th, Red Sox 5-3 : Wade Davis does his job in the top of ninth, setting the Red Sox down quietly with a 1-2-3 inning.
He got Dustin Pedroia looking — the 22nd strikeout of the game — to end the inning.
End 8th, Red Sox 5-3 : Alfredo Aceves had an interesting third of an inning, but the important thing is that he gets out of it with the lead still intact.
Aceves did allow one of the inherited runners to score when he gave up an RBI single to B.J. Upton, and things got even dicier when a passed ball moved runners up to second and third, but he got Luke Scott to ground out to end the inning.
The passed ball was the result of a clear cross-up between Aceves and Kelly Shoppach. They won’t have those problems in the ninth, though, because Jarrod Saltalamacchia pinch hits to lead off the ninth.
Bottom 8th, Red Sox 5-2 : Vicente Padilla allows a pair of runners to get on after striking out the leadoff man and then gets the hook after getting a fielder’s choice.
Bobby Valentine turns to his closer, bringing in Alfredo Aceves with two outs in the bottom of the eighth with two men on and the Sox holding a 5-2 lead.
Middle 8th, Red Sox 5-2 : Cody Ross felt like he played a large role in Wednesday’s loss after he stumbled while hauling in what turned into the game-winning sacrifice fly.
If the Red Sox hang on win this one, it will be in large part thanks to Ross.
Ross just picked up a crucial two-run single to give Boston some much-needed breathing room, pushing the lead to 5-3.
With Ross’ bases-loaded walk and home run earlier, he now has four RBIs on the night.
Top 8th, Red Sox 3-2 : J.P. Howell came on after Dustin Pedroia singled to open the inning, but that didn’t necessarily go as planned when Howell walked David Ortiz.
He bounced back to get Adrian Gonzalez to fly out before Joe Maddon came out to make a pitching change.
Maddon gives the ball to Wade Davis, the fourth Rays pitcher of the night, with one out and two on in the eighth.
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it regardless, that the Sox would love a big hit here from Will Middlebrooks to extend the lead.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-2 : Vicente Padilla makes it 3-for-3 for Red Sox relievers in the seventh as he gets Sean Rodriguez to fly out and end the inning.
The Sox lead 3-2 through seven.
Bottom 7th, Red Sox 3-2 : Andrew Miller strikes out Carlos Pena, and the Bobby V. pitching carousel continues to turn.
Valentine goes out and gets Miller after facing one batter, opting to go with Vicente Padilla to try and finish off the inning.
Bottom 7th, Red Sox 3-2 : Nice night for Scott Atchison who throws exactly two pitches in getting Jeff Keppinger to ground out to short before getting the hook.
Bobby Valentine goes out and gets the ball from the right-hander, as the Sox turn to Andrew Miller.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-2 : The Red Sox have been unhappy with home plate umpire Dan Bellino all night, and that finally came to a head in the seventh.
Mike Aviles was called out on strikes to end the inning, and he was fired up about what he saw as a bad call by Bellino. Seconds later Aviles’ night was over as he was tossed for arguing balls and strikes.
The ejection overshadowed a dominant inning by Burke Badenhop who struck out the side to continue a streak of a 13 batters retired by Tampa pitching.
Nick Punto replaces Aviles at short.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-2 : Nice job by Rich Hill to come in and retire Luke Scott to end the inning.
The veteran southpaw got Scott to hit a lazy fly ball to Daniel Nava in left to end the inning and ensure the Red Sox take a 3-2 lead to the seventh.
Bottom 6th, Red Sox 3-2 : Felix Doubront can’t put away the Rays in the sixth, and that’s where his night will end.
Ben Zobrist singled with two outs, and B.J. Upton followed with a double to chase Doubront from the game.
Bobby Valentine calls on Rich Hill to come in and try to strand runners at second and third with two down and Luke Scott at the plate.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-2 : Matt Moore struggled through the first three innings and it didn’t look like he’d be long for this game, but he has bounced back very nicely in the last few innings.
He just completed his third straight 1-2-3 inning, and he has now retired the last 10 Red Sox batters he’s faced.
He’s done an admirable job of keeping the Rays in this game and giving them a chance to bounce back after falling behind early.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-2 : If Felix Doubront wins this game, we’ll look back at the fifth inning as a big turning point.
He bounced back after a shaky inning to post a scoreless frame, after walking the leadoff hitter in the fifth.
Doubront made two great pitches jamming both Carlos Pena and Sean Rodriguez for harmless pop-ups before striking out Elliot Johnson with a fastball for his seventh strikeout of the game.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-2 : We saw the best of Joe Maddon’s wizardry in the top of the fifth.
First, it was David Ortiz smoking a ground ball into the shift for the inning’s second out. That was followed by a sharp ground ball to short where Elliot Johnson was shaded up the middle to make an easy play on the ground ball.
Moore has now retired seven in a row and looks stronger every inning.
End 4th, Red Sox 3-2 : Felix Doubront had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed, but when he couldn’t turn a double play, it came back to hurt him.
Doubront got what probably would have been an inning-ending double play when he got Chris Gimenez to hit a bouncer back to the mound. Doubront, however, bobbled it and had to go to first to tget the only out, extending the inning.
Rich Thompson followed with a single up the middle, his first major league hit, an RBI single that brought Tampa to within one. The Rays then loaded the bases, but Doubront got Luke Scott to line out to first to get the Sox out of the inning.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-1 : Matt Moore may not have the consistency of a top-flight starter yet, but he definitely has the stuff.
The 22-year-old just breezed through the fourth, his first 1-2-3 inning of the night, picking up a pair of strikeouts on the way.
He’s got six punchouts through four innings.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0 : Felix Doubront looked to have one of the best innings of his season when he got B.J. Upton to pop up to first to end the inning.
However, Kelly Shoppach was called for catcher’s interference on the play and the inning was extended. The Rays eventually got on the board when Jeff Keppinger lined a slider to left for an RBI single to score Upton.
We have to mention that Upton was at second because Doubront hit Luke Scott in the back with a pitch. That’s noteworthy because Adrian Gonzalez — the man who said he would hit a home run tonight — got hit with a pitch in the first inning.
We’ll have to keep an eye on that.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0 : Matt Moore was one pitch from striking out the side in the third. He then inexplicably grooved an 0-2 fastball to Cody Ross. That wasn’t a good idea.
Ross blasted the fastball — one right down Broadway — to dead-center for his seventh home run of the season.
The Sox now have a run in all three innings to grab an early 3-0 lead.
End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0 : Felix Doubront runs into a little bit of trouble in the second, but he’s able to make a pitch and get out of it.
The young lefty left runners at first and second when he buried a changeup down in the zone that Chris Gimenez hit sharply to third where Will Middlebrooks took care of it despite a little bobble.
Doubront looked to have Gimenez down on strikes the pitch before, but that offering was apparently deemed inside, so give the lefty credit for bearing down on the next pitch to get out of it.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0 : Marlon Byrd has quietly been a pretty solid pickup for the Sox in the last month.
He just extended his hitting streak to seven games with his first home run in a Red Sox uniform, a solo shot to left field. It’s also his first home run since Sept. 21 of last season, a stretch of 126 at-bats.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0 : Felix Doubront was staked to an early lead in his last start and he was shaky in his first inning of work. This time around, he’s anything but shaky.
The lefty struck out Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton for the first two outs of the inning, and then he got Luke Scott and his awful beard to roll over on a slider and ground out to second.
That’s exactly what you want out of your starter after giving him the early lead.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0 : Matt Moore had issues throwing stirkes in his last start against the Red Sox, and it cost him in the first inning against the Red Sox.
The young lefty hit Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases after singles from Mike Aviles and David Ortiz.
After getting Will Middlebrooks, Moore walked in a run when issued a free pass to Cody Ross. Moore looked to have stirke three with a changeup, but apparently just missed, and then walked Ross when he doubled up on the change for ball four.
The southpaw had to work hard in the first, throwing 33 pitches, as he finally got out of the inning just giving up one run after striking out Daniel Nava with the bases loaded.
6:54 p.m.: Felix Doubront is a young dude. In fact, he’s only 24. That, however, makes him two years older than Tampa starter Matt Moore.
Despite being only 22 years old, Moore is making his ninth career big league start.
He’s 0-1 in his career against the Red Sox, and this will be his third career appearance against Boston. He was actually matched up against Doubront earlier this season, and was roughed up, giving up six runs in 6 1/3 innings on April 15.
David Ortiz sees the young lefty prett well, with three hits in four at-bats against Moore.
6:15 p.m.: Here are some quick things surrounding the Sox with first pitch a little less than an hour away.
Via The Boston Globe, these are the pitching matchups this weekend against the Phillies.
Friday: Daniel Bard versus Cole Hamels
Saturday: Jon Lester versus Joe Blanton
Sunday: Josh Beckett versus Cliff Lee
While none of those Phillies starters are going to be a walk in the park, the Red Sox have to be thankful they missed Roy Halladay. That’s been a theme for them this week in missing No. 1 starters. They didn’t see James Shields (or David Price) in this series, and they missed Felix Hernandez in the Seattle series. That’s the benefit of two-game series, I suppose.
Also from the Globe, David Ortiz revealed that he will play at lest once this weekend in Philly at first baes. It would make all the sense in the world that start will come Saturday against Blanton, with two left-handers — and really good ones at that — going on Friday and Sunday in Hamels and Lee.
We’ll also be keeping an eye on Durham, N.C., tonight where Daisuke Matsuzaka will make yet another rehab start with Pawtucket.He’s 0-1 with a 4.34 ERA (nine runs in 18 2/3 innings) in his four rehab starts thus far, with one of those coming Salem, one in Portland and two more in Pawtucket.
Kevin Youkilis, who is also with the PawSox right now, has the night off after serving as the club’s DH on Wednesday night.
4:25 p.m.: Here’s the Red Sox lineup for the second of a two-game series in Tampa.
Mike Aviles, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Cody Ross, RF
Daniel Nava, LF
Marlon Byrd, CF
Kelly Shoppach, C
Felix Doubront, P
Here’s the Tampa Bay lineup.
Ben Zobrist, RF
B.J. Upton, CF
Luke Scott, DH
Jeff Keppinger, 2B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Sean Rodriguez, 3B
Elliot Johnson, SS
Chris Gimenez, C
Rich Thompson, LF
Matt Moore, P
2:10 p.m.: Good afternoon, Red Sox fans. We’re still six hours from first pitch, but let’s check in on a couple of storylines heading into this game.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Adrian Gonzalez who made some news following Wednesday’s game when he had some pretty strong words about umpires.
“How are you supposed to have a professional at-bat with these umpires nowadays?” Gonzalez asked reporters, according to ESPN.com. “Gosh. The first pitch in my last at-bat wasn’t even close. You’re up there, trying to have a professional at-bat and look for a pitch to hit and that’s called?”
Gonzalez also went on to say that he’s going to hit a home run on Thursday night, so there’s also that. It would be a nice change of pace for the supposed slugger who has just two round-trippers on the season, and hasn’t left the yard since exactly one month ago — April 17.
Andrew Miller, on the other hand, has been pretty impressive since being recalled from Pawtucket. Miller has yet to allow an earned run in the six innings he’s pitched since being called up, and just as impressive, he’s issued just one walk. He has a WHIP of 0.667, a far cry from the 1.815 WHIP he had last season.
He’s also been deadly against left-handers. In time with both Pawtucket and Boston, Miller has held lefties to a .103 average, with 16 strikeouts.
If he’s able to keep it up and make it clear that he’s turned a corner, Miller could prove to be a valuable piece of the Boston pitching staff this season.
8 a.m. ET: After getting hit by a fly ball during batting practice on Tuesday, Felix Doubront is fine and will take the hill for the Red Sox (17-20) against the Rays (23-14).
The lefty has won two straight decisions — over the Royals and Indians — and will look to extend his luck against division rival Tampa. When he took the mound against the Rays on April 15, Doubront was solid, allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out seven batters.
Doubront, who is 3-1 with a 4.46 ERA, will matched up with Matt Moore. In the young lefty’s last appearance, he only allowed one earned run Saturday against the Orioles, but he only made it through 4 1/3 innings en route to collecting his second straight loss.
For more details, follow NESN.com’s live blog. Tune into NESN’s pregame show at 6 p.m. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.