Final, Rays Win 5-2: Well, just about all the credit in this one falls on the shoulders of David Price, who turns in a dominant 112-pitch effort to keep the Rays in the wild card race and bolster his own personal Cy Young case.
With the win, the Rays improve their overall mark to 84-70, while the Red Sox fall to 69-86. Price (19-5) gets within one game of 20 wins on the season, while Clay Buchholz (11-7) is saddled with the loss. Time of the game was 2:50.
Well, that's it for us from our Red Sox Live Blog, but don't fret, we'll be back with another edition tomorrow as the Red Sox try to split this brief two-game set, and end Fenway Park's centennial celebration on a positive note. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET, but don't forget about the 6:30 ceremonies — we'll have those live on NESN, which means Red Sox First Pitch gets bumped up to 5:30. Or just stick right here with NESN.com for all your pregame needs, and all your postgame desires to wrap up this one.
And, as always, follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and all things MLB.
Mid 9th, Rays 5-2: Last chance for the Red Sox here, as they'll have to mount something against Price, which they haven't been able to do since the early going.
The lefty has been absolutely locked in since the middle innings, and shows no signs up letting up thus far. He's still throwing in the mid-90s with ease.
End 8th, Rays 5-2: Price continues to roll along, and at 102 pitches he could be in line to finish out this one on his own. Stepping up with a complete game — especially with his team facing dire
straits in the playoff race — should help boost his Cy Young
The big change for Price on this night is that he seems to be featuring his curveball a lot more than he normally does. Moreover, he's hitting his spots with it very well, giving him yet another weapon to add to a litany of others.
Mid 8th, Rays 5-2: Once again, well done for Atchison, who does his part to keep the Red Sox close.
It's pretty amazing that we're even seeing the right-hander pitch at this point in the season, considering the original diagnosis on his elbow. It's actually pretty fascinating considering we were under the
impression that his UCL was seriously injured. Also fascinating: how one
doctor said Atchison needed Tommy John surgery while another said he
could simply rehab the elbow.
Nonetheless, Atchison seems to be suffering absolutely no ill effects from the injury.
End 7th, Rays 5-2: So, apparently William Shatner was out at Fenway some time over the last week or so, and wearing a Red Sox hat no less.
This gives this live blogger an opportunity to share the one piece of Shatner trivia that he knows: the mask that Michael Myers wears throughout the "Halloween" movie franchise is actually an impression of Shatner's face, painted white obviously.
So, you know, if voyaging to the final frontier wasn't frightening enough, there's another reason to be afraid of the greatest spoken word artist in our lifetime.
Mid 7th, Rays 5-2: Through six innings, Price is only at 79 pitches, so the Red Sox may have to contend with the southpaw for another couple innings, at least.
Despite giving up seven hits, Price hasn't walked a single batter, which is largely what's keeping him in this game. He's also retired 10 of the last 11 batter's he's faced, so suffice to say that the 27-year-old has gotten into a groove over the past few innings.
End 6th, Rays 5-2: Don and Jerry have a very different style in the booth than many television broadcasters around Major League Baseball. Specifically, they're much more likely to break into off-topic chats about their lives outside of the booth, dancing and other topics.
But don't count homerism among the pair's broadcast, according to the Wall Street Journal. As reported by the newspaper — actually, the publication did the study itself — Don and Jerry have the least-biased broadcast across all of baseball, in terms of rooting for the home team.
Check out the link above to learn more.
Middle 6th, Rays 5-2: Tough break there for the Rays. As we here at NESN.com have mentioned a couple times throughout the day, Molina had been the Rays' hottest hitter coming into the game, going 7-for-14 over his last five starts.
Aside from that, it's an error on Nava? Really? Well, you surely can't accuse the Fenway official scorekeeper of hometown bias, as Nava might have made a slight bobble on the ball coming off the Green Monster, but we're not sure that there's a reasonable expectation to play a ball cleanly off the wall.
Molina should be credited with one more RBI and Nava should be charged with one less error.
End 5th, Rays 3-2: Price retires the side in order for the second inning in a row, and both pitchers looked to be pretty well locked in here in the middle innings.
Ciriaco, in particular, looked to be flailing away in that last at-bat, clearly not having a good idea what was coming from Price. This live blogger will have to admit that Ciriaco has kept up his hitting far, far better than I expected, but the fact that the infielder has so few walks and will chase pitches out of the zone with such unwavering consistency is undoubtedly troubling.
Ciriaco may have a good future as a super utility man beyond 2012, but pitchers have and will continue to figure him out given consistent at-bats over the course of a whole season.
Mid 5th, Rays 3-2; Buchholz continues to roll right along, and now he has retired 11 of the last 13 Rays that he has faced. Also, at 77 pitches through five innings, he should have another couple frames in him, so Felix Doubront: take notes on how to keep the pitch count down when you don't have your best stuff.
End 4th, Rays 3-2: With two strikeouts in that last half inning, Price looks to be back on track going through the Red Sox 1-2-3.
If you're watching the NESN broadcast, one thing Kevin Millar mentioned in his visit to the booth with Don and Jerry was that modern day pitchers seem to have an over-reliance on the cut fastball. Although he said it as if it was a question, this live blogger was just under the impression that the newfound popularity of the cutter was common knowledge, an accepted fact in baseball circles.
The reasons that the cutter has become so popular aren't hard to decipher. It requires a more subtle arm action, which makes it easier to teach. And, of course, when thrown right it's a very effective pitch — as Mariano Rivera has proven throughout the latter stages of his career by throwing it almost exclusively.
Mid 4th, Rays 3-2: Buchholz has settled down considerably, retiring eight of the last nine Rays he's faced.
The right-hander has had a few outings like these, even among his second-half successes. He seems very capable of quickly losing his command for one inning at a time, but that usually only ends up being a blip in an otherwise dominant outing. We'll see if this one follows that same pattern, but Buchholz has definitely had a tendency to let one inning get to him.
At 66 pitches through four innings, it's not what you'd call an economical night for Buchholz, but it's easy to see how his efficiency could have been even worse after the second inning in which his command just seemed out the window.
End 3rd, Rays 3-2: This really hasn't been a great day for Red Sox baserunners.
First Valencia gets thrown out rounding first base too aggressively after his RBI single, now Ciriaco makes a poor effort trying to steal third, gets thrown out and nearly kills the Sox' ability to score in the bottom of the third inning. In fact, Boston had to get some major help from Price to plate Nava, who scores on a balk before Ross strikes out to end the inning.
Ross is one of the streakiest players in Major League Baseball, and right now he definitely isn't locked in.
Mid 3rd, Rays 3-1: If anyone out there is watching the NESN broadcast of the game, this live blogger has heard that Pedro Martinez is supposed to be among the most interesting interviews among baseball players.
It probably shouldn't be much of a surprise given the way he pitched during his career, but Martinez is supposedly a scholar when it comes to talking about sequencing and the art of pitching in general. Of course, when you have the kind of devastating stuff that Martinez did during his playing career, it makes everything else easier, but oh what I wouldn't give to be able to interview Martinez.
End 2nd, Rays 3-1: That's unfortunate baserunning on the part of Valencia there, who may have inadvertently killed a rally.
Especially from a player who's fighting for at-bats and a big-league job, you'd like to see better execution in the fundamentals, so that won't bode well for him going foward.
Nonetheless, Valencia's swing looked good on the single off Price, as did Gomez, who takes some aggressive rips but doesn't necessarily look like he's hacking or flailing up there. This live blogger has long been on record that Gomez should be seeing some more at-bats, and he's proving why he deserves them thus far in this contest.
Mid 2nd, Rays 3-0: Buchholz definitely lost his command in that last half inning. After issuing the two walks to begin the frame, it was a very predictable middle of the stike zone fastball to Jeff Keppinger, who swung like he knew it was coming — because he did.
Aside from that, how about Gomez over at first base, robbing Joyce of extra bases. One of the knocks on Gomez is his defense, but he looked pretty fluid there, and if he can continue that kind of play he may well force more consideration for the role next year, especially considering his numbers at Triple-A this year.
End 1st, 0-0: Likewise, Price gets through the first inning in order, so let's turn our attention back to Buchholz.
The right-hander throws an innumerable amount of pitches, including two and four-seam fastballs, a devastating changeup, a slider, a cutter and a straight curveball. But beyond that, he can vary the action on any of those pitches — and the slider and cutter have similar break — so when Buchholz is going well it's actually kind of difficult to gauge what pitch he's throwing — even in high definition.
During his successful second half, Buchholz has largely been pitching off the four-seam fastball, using his changeup as his out pitch and working in his other breaking stuff with great variation.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Buchholz gets through the Rays 1-2-3, but for now let's talk about Tampa Bay starter David Price.
In short, the 27-year-old is a Cy Young candidate for a reason: pure stuff. Price throws two and four seam fastballs, a cutter, a changeup and a show-me curveball mainly to change speeds. Basically, Price consistently comes at hitters with hard stuff, and when his location is spot on, he's near unhittable.
His Cy Young case is an interesting one, as well. With 18 wins and a 2.58 ERA, he would seem to be right in the thick of things, but if Tampa's playoff bid fails that may be a hard sell. He does have far more strikeouts than hits allowed, however. Whatever happens with the hardware, it's been an impressive season.
7:23 p.m.: We have first pitch! And, for those wondering, the gametime temperature is 66 degrees with 49 percent humidity and winds from the southwest at 12 miles per hour.
7:10 p.m.: Not having grown up with the Red Sox, as I'm sure many of this Live Blog's reader's have, I can say I legitimately don't know who Adam Hyzdu is. But there he is, holding the 2004 World Series tophy.
I will approve the use of the Dropkick Murphys as a soundtrack to this whole ceremony, but a quick glance at Baseball-Reference.com informs me that Hyzdu spent exactly 17 games with the Red Sox in 2004 — and 129 with Pawtucket. In those 17 games the outfielder went 3-for-10 with one home run, two RBIs and two doubles. However, he did have a heck of a year in Triple-A, with a slash line of .301/29/79, not to mention 84 walks. Hyzdu also spent a number of years in Japan.
Anyone have any memories of Hyzdu? Share them via Twitter at @ZachStoloff, and we may share your answers here in our Red Sox Live Blog.
6:55 p.m.: Check out tonight's starting lineups for the Rays and Red Sox below.
With Jacoby Ellsbury out at least one more day nursing some undisclosed injury, the Boston batting order does seem significantly weaker — and, as we all know, it was a stripped unit to begin with. Since the late-August trade, anyway.
In any case, it's nice to see faces like Mauro Gomez and Ryan Lavarnway in the lineup. Those are the kids of guys that need to be given some regular at-bats as the season comes down to its final week. It's more than a little unfair to not give rookies the benefit of knowing they're going to be in the lineup for a few consecutive days, and the Red Sox have a great opportunity to do so, being well out of a playoff race.
Of course, the old credo is that you play your best lineup against contenders, regardless of where you are in the standings. However, like many of baseball's unwritten rules, that one, too, may be going out the window.
Tampa Bay Rays
Desmond Jennings, LF
B.J. Upton, CF
Ben Zobrist, SS
Evan Longoria, 3B
Adam Scott, DH
Jeff Keppinger, 2B
Matt Joyce, RF
Carlos Pena, 1B
Jose Molina, C
David Price, LHP
Boston Red Sox
Pedro Ciriaco, DH
Daniel Nava, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
Maro Gomez, 1B
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Danny Valencia, 3B
Che-Hsuan Lin, CF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Clay Buchholz, RHP
6:10 p.m. ET: So, perhaps he won't be making any appearances in Houston this season, after all.
The Rocket has landed in Boston, folks. On Monday night the Red Sox hosted their annual alumni dinner, and as you can see from the picture below, it was attended by some luminaries from Red Sox teams past. Then, earlier Tuesday Roger Clemens was spotted hanging out around the cage while the Red Sox took early batting practice.
Regardless of all that Clemens has been through since his retirement, he's still an integral part of Red Sox history, which puts the team in a bit of an awkward spot. The Giants, for instance, have largely cut ties with any memories of Barry Bonds gracing their outfield.
All that being said, Clemens would probably do well to keep his Major League Baseball contact to a minimum, but there's no harm in welcoming him back for these kinds of nostalgic ceremonies.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) September 25, 2012
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) September 25, 2012
8 a.m. ET: Remember last week, when the Boston Red Sox (69-85) won the first two matchups in a four-game series down in Tampa Bay, and the Rays (83-70) looked like their season had been dealt a death knell?
Well, throw that out, as six consecutive wins later the Rays are still hanging on in the American League wild card race, and enter play Tuesday just three games back of Oakland — albeit with nine left in the season. Of course, the road to a one-game wild card playoff is even more steep than that, as the Rays would also have to leapfrog the Angels, who are one game ahead of them, to enter the postseason.
So after Tampa Bay's contribution to last season's final-day debacle, the Red Sox would probably like nothing more than to seal the Rays' 2012 fate, and they have an opportunity to do just that in this bief two-game set. It also marks the last two games during Fenway Park's centennial celebration, so there will be a couple of special ceremonies to do right by the 100-year-old stadium.
It also means Red Sox Nation gets one final look at their presumed ace going into the 2013 season, right hander Clay Buchholz (11-6, 4.14). The 28-year-old's ERA stood at 5.53 a full three months into the season, but just two and a half later has been lowered well over a full run, as Buchholz has allowed a mark of just 2.93 since the calendar turned to July, and has thrown more innings in 2012 than ever before in his professional career.
Opposing Buchholz will be Cy Young candidate David Price (18-5, 2.58), who has an MLB-best ERA, and 188 strikeouts to match. His last time out on the hill, against these very Red Sox, the 27-year-old threw 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball, striking out seven and yielding an uncharacteristic eight hits.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET, but you can tune into NESN beginning at 6 p.m. with Red Sox First Pitch. Or you can just stick right here with NESN.com, we'll have complete pregame coverage, and this very Live Blog will have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say "all the stats and stories" in the hours leading up to gametime.
And, as always, follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and all things MLB.