Final, Red Sox 3-2: Boston takes second straight game in Toronto. Bailey gets second straight save in 17 1/2 hours. Red Sox notch back-to-back wins for first time since Aug. 26-27. The Summer of Ciriaco continues.
Nothing but good vibrations in Toronto. The Red Sox seek to sweep the Blue Jays on Sunday. Loser gets last place in the AL East all to themselves.
4:12 p.m.: If a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound? That’s kind of like what the Red Sox’ season feels like right now.
People are missing some good baseball being played by the boys with Boston across their chest. The Red Sox could ruin the seasons of the Rays, Orioles or Yankees down the stretch. Playing spoiler is better than nothing.
4:11 p.m.: Enter Andrew Bailey. Save opportunity.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 3-2: Three outs away from two straight wins for Boston.
4 p.m.: Yankees killer Pedro Ciriaco also is a Blue Jays killer. Ciriaco drives in Salty with a double to left to make John Farrell miserable. Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2.
A case could be made that Ciriaco is the Red Sox’ MVP this season. The journeyman minor leaguer has come a long way from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Perhaps this season will be the jumpstart to a long, successful major league career. You want to root for players like Ciriaco. His story is the kind of story that’s made for Disney movies.
3:52 p.m.: A few more interesting facts about Breslow. He attended Yale, majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and got a 1420 on his SAT. If he wasn’t playing baseball, he would have gone to med school and become a doctor.
Ryan Lavarnway is another Yale graduate, so the Lavarnway-Breslow battery might be one of the smartest batteries in baseball history.
When the Red Sox are in last place in September, over 15 games out of first in the AL East, any/every title means something.
End 8th, 2-2-: Craig Breslow makes quick work of the Blue Jays. Besides being a good relief pitcher, Breslow is one of the smartest players in the big leagues. Sporting News named him the smartest player in sports in 2010.
Close the book on Buchholz, who had a very good outing. His line: 7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 5 K, 111 pitches, 67 strikes.
3:44 p.m.: Really enjoying this ballgame. Even though the Red Sox aren’t contending this year, baseball remains a wonderful sport. America’s pastime. So much happens in a baseball game. So many games within games. Just need to know where to look.
Mid 8th, 2-2: Red Sox squander golden opportunity to take lead and leave the bases drunk. Loney flies out to right to end the inning. That kind of hitting with runners in scoring position won’t lead to victories. The Red Sox’ record is evidence of that.
3:36 p.m.: Delabar strikes out Ross on split-finger fastball. After being up 3-0 in the count, the Red Sox’ slugger is unable to deliver. Baseball is a tough business. Failing 70 percent of the time is considered success.
3:33 p.m.: Pedroia walks. Bases loaded. Third walk of the inning by third different Blue Jays pitcher. Ross is ready to make them pay.
3:30 p.m.: Steve Delabar is new pitcher for Blue Jays. Opponents are hitting only .176 against the right-hander. He throws gas. Reaches 95 on the gun against Pedroia.
3:28 p.m.: Red Sox employ a little National League-style baseball to put runners in scoring position. Sacrifice bunt by Nava moves Ellsbury to second and Ciriaco to third.
John Farrell makes another pitching change.
3:25 p.m.: Red Sox have a prime opportunity to put some runs on the board with two on and no outs.
3:22 p.m.: Left-hander Aaron Loup replaces Villanueva, who leaves after walking Ciriaco. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings. He walked two, struck out six and three 60 of his 87 pitches for strikes. Nice effort.
3:15 p.m.: NESN production team plays Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Part 2” while going to commercial break. Great song. Props.
End 7th, 2-2: Buchholz gives up two-out walk to Brett Lawrie, but gets out of the inning unscathed. The walks is Buchholz’s fifth of the game, a season high.
Mid 7th, 2-2: Rally opportunity ends without a celebration. Loney leads off with a single and gets to third, but the Red Sox are unable to bring him one.
Villanueva strikes out Aviles to end the inning, his sixth K of the day. Buchholz has four.
3 p.m.: Eight hours, 59 minutes until the NHL lockout begins.
Let Bobby Orr lift your spirits.
End 6th, 2-2: Three batters. Seven pitches. Three outs. If the Cy Young Award were determined by one inning, Buchholz would be the runaway winner after that frame.
2:53 p.m.: A note for any picture-in-picture fans: No. 11 Clemson hosts Furman on NESNplus at 3 p.m.
2:48 p.m.: Ellsbury may not throw like Ichiro, but does Ichiro rake the field before a game, sell programs, tickets and hot dogs? He probably doesn’t run on Dunkin’.
Mid 6th, 2-2: That was quick. Villanueva gets Nava to pop out to short and strikes out Pedroia and Ross.
End 5th, 2-2: Toronto should not have scored. Stuff happens.
After loading the bases, Buchholz made the pitches to get out of the inning. Ellsbury didn’t pick up the right-hander with his errant toss from center. Strong arm is one tool missing from Ellsbury’s game.
2:38 p.m.: Blue Jays tie game at two. Lind hits a sacrifice fly to shallow center field. Ellsbury’s throw hits the mound.
2:30 p.m.: Who will win the World Series this year? A’s would be a great story. So would the Orioles or Nationals.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Villanueva sends Boston hitters back to the bench in order. The Red Sox and Blue Jays aren’t playing like cellar dwellers. Their records say they are the worst and second-worst teams in the AL East. But if each team had gotten more starting pitching like today’s, each team would still be in the hunt for October. Good pitching beats good hitting every day of the week.
2:21 p.m.: Two ways to look at the 2012 Red Sox season.
1. What a waste.
2. What an opportunity.
Optimists take door No. 2.
If you need a pep talk, listen to this.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: One. Two. Three. Buchholz has his best inning of the game.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Red Sox pick up a run. Ross draws two-out walk and advances to third on James Loney singles to center. Jarrod Saltalamacchia drives home Ross with a single to center.
Ross is in the middle of everything. Again. He’s gamer, and he’s only 31. Follow him on Twitter @IamCodyRoss.
2:08 p.m.: Vote for 10th Player Award. Don Orsillo is not eligible.
2:03 p.m.: Red Sox’ Opening Day outfield in 2013 — Daniel Nava in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center, Cody Ross in right. Why not?
End 3rd, 1-1-: Buchholz’s control isn’t as sharp as he’d like. Through three innings, he has walked three and thrown 53 pitches (20 balls). So far, he’s not letting the wildness hurt him.
1:49 p.m.: Nava has made more memorable plays in two days in Toronto than Carl Crawford made in his entire career in Boston. Crawford was a great player with the Rays, but he was a poor fit in Boston.
Nava also is making about 1,000 percent less than Crawford.
Nava deserves a shot at the starting left fielder job next season. Every time he’s in the lineup, he comes up with a big hit or great play in the field. He hustles, he’s humble, and has a great attitude. What’s not to like?
Sometimes, the easiest answer is the right one. Too much analysis, or overthinking, can lead to the wrong decisions. Player evaluation, signing free agents, making trades — all personnel moves are an inexact science, but being disciplined can lead to the greatest rewards. Ben Cherington understands this philosophy. Expect him to make some smart moves this winter.
Mid 3rd, 1-1: Three up, three down. This game is moving right along.
End 2nd, 1-1: Nava continues to impress. The left fielder ends the inning with a great leaping catch against the wall. Before that, he kept Kelly Johnson at third with a flyball catch and strong throw to home.
Buchholz looks a little shaky early, but if he can settle down, he could go deep in this game.
1:33 p.m.: Ross’ contract is up at the end of the season after signing a one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox before the 2012 campaign. He has turned out be a great bargain.
Boston likely will want to bring the right fielder back, but will he want a raise to stay in Boston? How much — in years and dollars — will it cost the Red Sox to re-sign him?
Ross is sure to have some other suitors, and they could offer more money and years than the Red Sox. Time will tell what happens, but Ross is the kind of player the Red Sox need: a no-nonsense producer who enjoys playing the game and plays the game the right way. They should find a way to give him a multiyear deal.
Mid 2nd, 1-1: The Red Sox respond to the Blue Jays’ first strike. Ross does all of the damage.
Boston doesn’t want to finish the season in last place. The Red Sox would much rather see the Blue Jays take that position in the standings.
1:25 p.m.: Ross ties the ballgame with one swing of the bat. Villanueva’s fastball was right down Main Street, and Ross knew what to do — crush it over the left-field fence for his 21st home run and 74th RBI.
End 1st, Blue Jays 1-0: Toronto gets on the board first. After an Edwin Encarnacion walk and Adam Lind double, Yunel Escobar singles to right to score Encarnacion. Lind gets thrown out at home by Cody Ross. The punchout is Ross’ eighth assist of the season.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Carlos Villanueva doesn’t waste any time setting the Red Sox down in order. Jacoby Ellsbury gives a pitch a ride to deep right, but the ball stays in the Rogers Centre yard. Daniel Nava strikes out, and Pedroia flies out to right.
1:07 p.m.: Game time.
12:44 p.m.: Having Pedroia back in the lineup is good news for the Red Sox. The second baseman has had an up-and-down season on and off the field. He’s battled some health issues with his thumb and faced some questions about his leadership. Throw in a new baby son, his second boy, and Pedroia has experienced a full of plate of emotions.
The one constant in the uneven circus has been Pedroia’s effort. He plays every game like it’s his last game. He may be having a down year in the production department (by his standards), but he never makes excuses and never lollygags. Look up gamer in the dictionary, and you’ll see a picture of Pedroia. And he’ll probably have something to say.
Red Sox fans are happy to have him back.
Photo via Twitter @RedSox.
12:28 p.m.: Congratulations to the Pawtucket Red Sox. They won the 2012 International League Governor’s Cup — the club’s first since 1984.
12:18 p.m.: Pedro Ciriaco has been very pleasant surprise for the Red Sox this season. He should have a role on the 2013 roster and even could win the starting shortstop job.
NESN.com Red Sox reporter Didier Morais recently caught up with Ciriaco to talk about his development. The interview was conducted in Spanish and translated into English.
11:58 a.m.: How strange has this Red Sox season been? Bobby Valentine is using his 978th different lineup combination.
11:51 a.m.: The lineups.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
James Loney, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Lavarnway, DH
Mike Aviles, SS
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Clay Buchholz, P
Rajai Davis, LF
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Adam Lind, 1B
Yunel Escobar, SS
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Yorvit Torrealba, C
Moises Sierra, RF
Anthony Gose, CF
Carlos Villanueva, P
11:18 a.m.: The Red Sox will be sitting out the playoffs this October, but that doesn’t mean Boston can’t celebrate a championship at Fenway Park in 2012. On Sept. 25, the 2004 Red Sox will return to Fenway to relive one of the greatest seasons in the history of the ballpark’s 100 years.
Here are some memories to get in the mood.
Red Sox win first World Series since 1918, end 86 years of frustration, celebrate like its 2999.
Manny Ramirez crashes TV interview with Tom Werner and David Ortiz at 2004 All-Star Game.
Ben Cherington wants to build Red Sox with homegrown talent like 2004 champions.
10:41 a.m.: The Bruins learned a lesson from the NHL’s last lockout and are getting as many player as they can signed before the current CBA expires at 11:59 on Saturday night. Milan Lucic is the latest player to get a new deal.
Now if only NHL owners and players could negotiate like Peter Chiarelli has done this offseason, we’d be talking about the start of another hockey season instead of the stoppage of one.
6 a.m. ET: The Red Sox hit rock bottom this season. They are in last place. And they will be watching the playoffs on television for a second straight October.
But the Red Sox have one big reason to be optimistic: The kids from Pawtucket and throughout the farm system are talented, hungry and fearless. Boston’s young players in 2012 have been a silver lining in a stormy season and continue to impress as the Red Sox scrap and claw to finish the season strong.
Ryan Lavarnway, Mauro Gomez and Daniel Nava led Boston to an 8-5 win over the Blue Jays in the series opener at Rogers Centre on Friday. Even Daisuke Matsuzaka, who may or may not return to the Red Sox in 2013, pitched into the sixth inning. Though he didn’t get his second win of the season, he left the game with a lead and helped the Red Sox capture their 65th win.
Clay Buchholz looks to deliver win No. 66 on Saturday. Buchholz is 11-6 with a 4.46 ERA this season and 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 86 1/3 innings in 14 career games (13 starts) against the Blue Jays.
The right-hander will be opposed by Carlos Villanueva, who is 7-5 with a 3.48 ERA this season and 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA over 24 innings in eight career games (three starts) against the Red Sox.
Pregame coverage begins on NESN at 12 p.m. ET. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. Tune in to watch the game with Don and Jerry, and join us on the live blog. We can’t promise a deli lunch for your stomach, but we will serve a feast for your mind.