Final, Blue Jays Win 7-3: After going down 3-0, the Blue Jays scored the final seven runs of the game and take game two of the three game set
The Red Sox (48-47) will look to avoid the sweep tomorrow, as the Jays (47-47) try to take all three games, and actually move ahead of the Sox in the standings.
Carlos Villanueva (5-0) earns the win, while Aaron Cook (2-3) takes the loss.
That's it for us with the live blog. Stick with NESN and NESN.com for all your postgame needs, and tune back into NESN tomorrow starting at 12:30 p.m. ET for tomorrow's pregame shows. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35.
Mid 9th, Blue Jays 7-3: We didn't realize that Tim McCarver is set to be inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and topped that off with being awarded the Ford C. Frick Award, which is basically the highest honor a broadcaster can be awarded in the sport.
Several words come to mind upon learning this, including "huh?" "really?" "why?" and several others than I can't repeat in this (family-friendly) live blog.
End 8th, Blue Jays 6-3: Darren Oliver is a veteran through and through. Supposedly on the "wrong side" of 40, at 41-years-old, Oliver's more like a fine wine — he seems to have gotten better with age.
Over the past half-decade or so, Oliver's made quite a niche for himself not only as a lefty specialist, but as a general setup man, as well. It also doesn't hurt that he's known for having something of a rubber arm.
With a 1.23 ERA through 36 2/3 innings pitched in 2012, he's at it again.
Mid 8th, Blue Jays 6-3: Did you miss the Brett Lawrie video from earlier this week? Well, if you did, here you go.
In this clip, Lawrie gives a new definition to the phrase "sacrifice the body," as initially it looked like a very scary moment, and that Lawrie might have suffered a significant injury. No matter, as Lawrie is back in the lineup and probably just wishing that, you know, he had actually come up with the ball.
Top 7th, Blue Jays 6-3: While Cook had the game going along at a quick pace, do you know how you bring a baseball game to a screeching halt? Three pitching changes in an inning, that's how.
Valentine has done an excellent job at juggling his bullpen this year, but the flip side of that is his plan for deploying his arms tends to make for slow innings, such as has been exemplified during this very, very long half inning.
Aside from that, the double steal ended up being huge, as Crawford (nervously) unleashed a throw from left to try and get Rajai Davis at the plate to no avail. It's nice to see Crawford let one go, but every time he does that for the rest of the season you wonder if it's finally going to be the one that blows out his UCL.
Top 7th, Blue Jays 4-3: Did the Blue Jays sneak the man in white into Fenway on Saturday evening?
The Blue Jays have hit a couple balls very, very hard, and look like they knew exactly what was coming. Realistically, they were just a couple sinkers left up in the zone and Encarnacion and Arencibia, respectively, did not miss their pitches.
Now it's up to Morales, who sees his first action since being demoted from the starting rotation last week, to keep it close.
End 6th, 3-3: Since the second inning the Red Sox really haven't done anything against Villanueva — unable to score a couple runners in scoring position back in the fifth — and all of a sudden the game is tied.
At 97 pitches, Villanueva won't be much longer for the game, so the Sox will likely have a chance to do some damage against someone coming of the Jays' pen. However, the only big hit the team's had on the night has been Saltalamacchia's home run.
Mid 6th, 3-3: Cook gets another three groundouts in that last half inning, but the damage was done in between.
Cook rarely ever walks anyone. In all of 2012, he's walked exactly three batters, and just two since he reentered the starting rotation back in June. That walk to Rasmus, however, was costly. Encarnacion absolutely crushed that ball, which looked to still be on its upward arc when it was leaving the ballpark.
All of a sudden, it's a brand new ballgame.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-1: Ciriaco's bunt in that last half inning was a thing of beauty, perfectly placed up the third base line.
Aside from that, the Sox waste a chance to add some insurance runs. Granted, Cook seems to be rolling along at this point, but, in this ballpark especially, anything can happen, and a two-run lead is rarely safe.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-1: That's three more ground outs induced by Aaron Cook, and nine Jays in a row set down since giving up a run back in the third inning.
This game — like most since Cook's return from Pawtucket — has been an absolute sinkerball clinic thus far.
End 4th, Red Sox 3-1: Being a rookie, it kind of figured that there would be a little inconsistency in Middlebrooks' game, and he's definitely hit a bit of a skid of late.
Granted, this stretch includes a period where he missed a number of games with a hamstring issue, but in his last 16 games dating back to June 24, Middlebrooks' owns a .543 OPS.
Long-term, of course, Middlebrooks will be fine. But in 2012, it's important to get his bat back on track as the rest of the lineup gets healthy.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-1: Well, that was certainly the Aaron Cook the Red Sox would like to see throughout the rest of the game, as the right-hander has gotten back into his ground ball-inducing ways.
With Villanueva looking to have settled down a bit, the rest of this contest could well belong to the pitchers.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: In two of his innings Villanueva has been excellent, the other not so much.
In that last frame, however, he looked very comfortable in setting the Red Sox down in order. Now it's up to Aaron Cook to respond and get the momentum back on the Red Sox' side.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: In that last half inning you saw an example of about the only legitimate strategy you can have against a sinkerball pitcher — wait for them to get the ball up.
If a sinkerball pitcher is on, there's little the hitter can do to elevate the ball off the bat and his something with authority. So, you just have to wait for the mistakes.
And it looks like Aaron Cook make a couple in that last half inning, allowing the Jays to get several balls into the outfield. We'll keep an eye on whether or not he can get back to the form he showed the first two frames.
End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: Since June 22, Saltalamacchia hasn't been the hitter he was in the earlier months of the season. Over 19 games since that point, the catcher has gotten 68 at-bats, hitting just .132 with a .309 slugging percentage. It's one of the reasons that Kelly Shoppach started behind the plate the last couple nights.
However, if Saltalamacchia gets back on track, then he's among the best-hitting catchers in the game, and makes the Red Sox lineup scary deep. Not many teams can boast six and seven hitters with slugging percentages challenging .500.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: This may soon grow to be a tired refrain (in which case, we'll try to find something else to talk about) but through two innings Cook has gotten six ground ball outs on just 23 pitches.
It's early, but already we're seeing vintage Aaron Cook, so if his sinker continues to be as good as it has looked, this could be another successful outing for the veteran.
End 1st, 0-0: I'm going to be honest, I don't know all that much about Villanueva's arsenal of pitches. However, whatever he unfolds throughout the game, his strikeout pitches to Nava and Crawford — what looked to be a slider and a tailing fastball, respectively — were just plain nasty.
If he continues to show that kind of movement and control off the corners, it could be another long night for the Red Sox hitters.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Well Aaron Cook does what Aaron Cook does.
Last time Cook was on the hill I was out at Fenway, which enabled for a little bit more insider info on just how Cook prefers to pitch. It's no secret that Cook is a classic sinkerballer — getting three ground ball outs on eight pitches in that last half-inning — and likes to work fast. In addition to a successful start, hopefully that also means a bit quicker pace of game.
In any case, expect a lot of ground balls tonight, and don't expect to see many walks or strikeouts.
7:23 p.m.: We have first pitch! For those wondering, the game-time temperature in Boston is a very comfortable 71 degrees.
7:15 p.m.: Nice scene there for Jason Varitek. The music for his video montage may have been a little bit over the top, but it's nice to see The Captain getting his due recognition.
And hey, who wouldn't want a free brand new set of golf clubs?
6:30 p.m.: And we have tonight's lineups!
It looks like Dustin Pedroia is really settling into the No. 3 spot in the order — at least until David Ortiz returns from his heel issues. But for now, the speed of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford stay atop the batting order.
Boston Red Sox
Daniel Nava, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Cody Ross, DH
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Ryan Sweeney, CF
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Aaron Cook, RHP
Toronto Blue Jays
Anthony Gose, RF
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Colby Rasmus, CF
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
Adam Lind, DH
J.P. Arencibia, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Yunel Escobar, SS
Travis Snider, LF
Carlos Villanueva, RHP
1:30 p.m.: Just a reminder that the Red Sox will be honoring longtime catcher and captain Jason Varitek before the game today.
Be sure to tune in to NESN at 6 p.m. to see the pregame show, which will include a look at the special time for Varitek.
And while you're at it, what do you think about the Red Sox honoring Varitek a little more? Do you think his contributions to the team make him worthy of having his jersey retired?
11 am. ET: Aaron Cook has become the Red Sox' shutdown man.
After fighting past injuries to claw his way into the Red Sox' rotation this year, Cook has been the best of the bunch. In his four starts since coming off the disabled list, he's allowed just five earned runs, including two scoreless outings. Last Monday, he pitched a speedy seven innings, inducing groundout after groundout as the Red Sox (48-46) rolled past Chicago 5-1.
Cook (2-2, 3.34 ERA) will look to have more of the same tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays (46-47). The Red Sox came out limp in their first game of the series last night, falling behind early and losing 5-0, but Cook could be just the guy they need on the mound to keep the Jays off the board until the offense can do some damage.
The Boston bats will get their chance against Carlos Villanueva (4-0, 2.68 ERA). Villanueva was a reliever for most of the season but has picked up the starting burden over his past three games, where he's been more than capable of keeping opponents off the board. He's allowed just three earned runs in three starts, including two straight games of six innings pitched with no runs coming into tonight. He's also struck out 21 batters over his last three games.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., with pregame festivities starting on NESN at 6 p.m. Make sure to check back here for news and analysis as the Red Sox chase another win.
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