Mid 9th, Red Sox 8-5: The smell of winning is in the air.
10:41 p.m.: Make that 8-5 Red Sox. Lavarnway drives in his fourth run of the game.
10:39 p.m.: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 5. Gomez puts the Red Sox back on a top with a two-run triple. Big day for Boston’s youngsters. First, Lavarnway. Then, Nava. Now, Gomez. The kids from Pawtucket don’t read the Internet or listen to critics.
10:37 p.m.: Rany Jazayerli wrote a fascinating piece for Grantland on why the Nationals made a a big mistake by shutting down Stephen Strasburg. Play to win today, not tomorrow, not next year, not five years from now. Today. What if the Nationals never get back to the postseason with Strasburg?
End 8th, 5-5: Exciting September baseball between a last-place team and a fourth-place team. Bud Selig’s dream has come true.
10:20 p.m.: All is not lost. Chris Carpenter relieves Padilla.
Raise your hand if you thought the Red Sox acquired the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter when the news first made headlines in spring training. Don’t lie. For a split second, the thought crossed a lot of people’s minds. Then, Theo Epstein slapped everyone back to reality.
10:18 p.m.: Nava makes amazing diving catch in left to keep the game tied. Expect to see that highlight shown one or two more times on TV. He might even get his name in the papers.
10:16 p.m.: Vicente Padilla is unable to hold the lead. Lawrie evens the game at five with a double to plate Rasmus.
10:10 p.m.: The Red Sox have the look of a team that wants to start a one-game winning streak. If they can finish off the Blue Jays, they will be 17 wins away from finishing the season above .500.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-4: A win? Getting warmer.
10:02 p.m.: The Red Sox opened the night 17 1/2 games back in the AL East and 17 1/2 games back in the AL wild-card standings. The Phillies opened the night 17 1/2 games back in the NL East and 4 games back in the NL wild-card standings. Translation: Nationals are very good.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-4: Junichi Tazawa is unhittable. He strikes out two and sends the Blue Jays back to the bench 1-2-3 in quick succession.
Break up the Red Sox.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-4: Everybody stand up and stretch. Keep those joints loose. After Boston collects win No. 65, the dance party begins. This Twisted Sister song will be on loop.
End sixth, Red Sox 5-4: Toronto cuts the deficit by one. But could they save the euro?
Get ready for a fantastic finish.
9:27 p.m.: Mortensen gives up a single to Escobar. Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4.
Close the book on Dice-K. His line: 5.1 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 H, 5 K, 3 BB, 98 pitches, 60 strikes. Respectable.
Dice-K is an inspiration on a certain level. He never gives up. With all the grief he’s gotten in Boston over the past couple of years (and it’s been a mountain to rival Kilimanjaro), he easily could have thrown in the towel a long time ago. Granted, he’s brought the pain on himself with inconsistency on the mound, but he shows up every fifth day when he’s healthy. Rain or shine. He’s a professional, doesn’t complain, is accountable. That’s more than some can say. No need to mention names.
9:20 p.m.: Daisuke Matsuzaka’s night is done after giving up a triple to Lind. Give the Japanese pitcher credit, though. He leaves the Red Sox a lead.
Clayton Mortensen takes over for the Red Sox in relief.
9:15 p.m.: Derek Jeter collects his 3,824th hit to pass Willie Mays on the all-time hits list for 10th place. The Yankees’ shortstop has passed eight Hall of Famers on the hits list this season. Eight. Only nine more players are ahead of him. Tremendous.
Can Jeter catch Pete Rose? The Captain needs more than 1,000 hits to be in the general vicinity of Charlie Hustle, but if anyone can — and should — pass the Gambler, Jeter is the right man for the job.
On an unrelated note, who do you think Jeter will be dating when he makes his speech at Cooperstown? If there was a Hall of Fame for players off the field, he would be first ballot also.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-3: The Red Sox don’t score any more runs, but they also don’t take any off the board. Good deal.
End 5th, Red Sox 5-3: Outings like this one are why Dice-K is so puzzling and can be so frustrating. He looks halfway not terrible. Aside from the one wild ride in the third, the Dice Man has pitched very well. He’s working fast, commanding the zone, being efficient with pitches. Add it all up, and he’s in line to win his second game of the season.
What’s going on here? Did aliens abduct the real Matsuzaka?
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-3: Daniel Nava drives in two runs with a single to right to give the Red Sox a 5-3 edge. Erin Andrews is happy.
Andrews, you may remember, tweeted a congratulatory message to Nava after he hit a grand slam in his first major league at-bat.
Nava now has 29 RBIs on the season.
8:51 p.m.: Speaking of Rondo, Ray Allen shouldn’t expect any Christmas Cards from the Celtics’ point guard. The former GQ intern called the current Heat shooting guard “that guy” on BET’s 106 & Park. Get a parka. That’s cold.
8:47 p.m.: As Jerry Remy said, John Farrell isn’t going to win this battle. The manager comes out to argue that Aviles went out of the baseline to avoid a tag by Lawrie. All Aviles did was spin like Rajon Rondo on a drive to the basket. No harm. No foul. Aviles safe at third.
Can the Red Sox make the Blue Jays hurt a little more by driving Aviles home?
End 4th, 3-3: Three up, three down. Dice-K doesn’t allow a baserunner on 11 pitches. He’s already got the one bad inning out of his system. As a result, we may, just may, have a ballgame.
Don’t want to jinx anything.
Mid 4th, 3-3: Red Sox show some fight and even the score. They have something to prove to Bobby Valentine. Before the game, the Boston manager called the Red Sox roster “the weakest roster we’ve ever had in September in the history of baseball. We can use help everywhere.”
Good thing he sugarcoated his feelings.
Valentine might be right about the Red Sox’ talent level down the stretch, but does he have to share the thought with the whole world? Maybe the public observation is just part of Valentine’s new motivational plan for the final 20 days of the season. The first six months have had a few hiccups.
On the other hand, what does Valentine have to lose by being honest?
8:32 p.m.: That’s all for Laffey. Right-hander Chad Jenkins takes over for the left-hander.
Laffey’s final line: 3.2 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 H, 1 K, 3 BB. Maybe he’s not Steve Carlton after all.
8:24 p.m.: Lavarnway ties the game with one swing of the bat — a three-run home run that flew over the left-field fence in a hurry. Lavarnway might not be Johnny Bench on defense, but he looked like a poor man’s Bench on that swing.
The Red Sox may have finally figured out Aaron Laffey.
End 3rd, Blue Jays 3-0: An ugly inning for Dice-K. One hit by pitch, three walks and two wild pitches lead to three Blue Jays’ runs. On a positive note, he strikes out Yunel Escobar to end the 25-minute inning.
8:13 p.m.: Make that 3-0 Blue Jays. Red Sox are unable to turn two on grounder to second, and Colby Rasmus crosses home.
8:09 p.m.: Blue Jays 2, Red Sox 0. Toronto gets on the board first on back-to-back wild pitches by Dice-K. In fairness to Matsuzaka’s defense, both pitches were blockable, and probably should have been blocked, but Ryan Lavarnway won’t be confused for Johnny Bench behind the plate anytime soon.
8 p.m.: Should MLB teams give players more one-year deals? Players won’t like the lack of job security, but they won’t lack motivation to perform or produce. Look at David Ortiz and Cody Ross this season. Compare their seasons to, say, Jayson Werth’s year. Werth signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals after the 2010 season. He hit .232 in 2011 and has only played in 63 games this season due to injury.
Monster contracts don’t make sense anymore unless a team is locking up a young star (23, 24, 25) for the long team. The risks that come with giving a multiyear deal to a player in his late 20s, early 30s are too great.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Still scoreless. Laffey is no joke. Red Sox threaten with a pair of two-out singles by Ciriaco and Jacoby Ellsbury. A double steal puts them on second and third, but Aviles is unable to drive them home, flying out deep to right.
7:49 p.m.: Plenty of good seats are available at the Rogers Centre. If you happen to be in the Toronto area, stop by the stadium. The Red Sox and Blue Jays would be happy to see you.
End 2nd, 0-0: Dice-K finishes the second inning. After Lind leads off the frame with a double, Dice-K shuts down the Blue Jays.
The Red Sox right-hander already has gone deeper this game than his last start. A moral victory.
7:36 p.m.: D-Day for the NHL is fast approaching. The collective bargaining agreement expires Saturday at 11:59 p.m. If a new agreement isn’t reached, we won’t have hockey for who knows how long. Sad that billionaires and millionaires can figure out how to share the wealth.
Major League Baseball has been fortunate to have labor peace since 1995. That fact is a feather in Bud Selig’s cap and could be one of his greatest achievements as commissioner. Gary Bettman could have two work stoppages under his watch in eight years. Many people have a hand in the NHL’s inability to reach a new CBA, but locking out players again will leave a mark on Bettman’s legacy.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: No hits, no runs for the Red Sox. They leave Mauro Gomez at second base. Gomez reached on a walk and is batting .286. He has shown a decent bat (20-for-70) with a little pop (two home runs) since getting called up. Will he be in the mix for the first-base job in 2013? He wouldn’t cost much.
End 1st, 0-0: Dice-K takes care of the Blue Jays 1-2-3 in an unorthodox way. With two outs and none on, Brett Lawrie hit a slow roller to Pedro Ciriaco at third. Ciriaco’s throw to first was off target and flew past James Loney. Aviles backed up the throw, picked up the ball and threw a strike to Jose Iglesias to nail Lawrie before he could reach second. Nice play.
7:17 p.m.: Dustin Pedroia is expected to return to the Red Sox this weekend in Toronto after staying in Boston for the birth of his second son. Congratulations to the second baseman. Hope mom and family are doing well.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Laffey continues his mastery of Red Sox hitters and sets the lineup down in order.
Mike Aviles flies out to end the frame. He is the 11th player to hit third for the Red Sox this season. That number sums up Boston’s season.
7:09 p.m.: Liftoff. Red Sox and Blue Jays are under way. Boston is wearing its alternate jerseys.
7:02 p.m.: Red Sox still have a chance to play spoiler. Although they lost two out of three to the Yankees this week, they have 15 games left against the Rays (6), Orioles (6) and pinstripes (3) after they leave Toronto.
5:23 p.m.: We are calling this game the Deja Vu All Over Again Don’t Blink or You Might Miss a Highlight Extravaganza. You might think the name has something to do with Dice-K and Laffey starting against each other for the second time in less than a week.
A fine guess, but to paraphrase Dana Carvey impersonating John McLaughlin, wrong.
A second thought may be that the name is an homage to Yogi Berra, who turned 87 four months and two days ago.
Completely logical and reasonable response, but no cigar.
This game is dedicated to him.
Thanks for playing.
Only 104 minutes until first pitch.
4:32 p.m. Here are the lineups.
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mike Aviles, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
Mauro Gomez, DH
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Daniel Nava, LF
James Loney, 1B
Jose Iglesias, SS
Daisuke Matsuzaka, P
Rajai Davis, LF
Colby Rasums, CF
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Adam Lind, 1B
Yunel Escobar, SS
Kelly Johnson, 2B
J.P. Arencibia, C
Moises Sierra, DH
Anthony Gose, RF
Aaron Laffey, P
3:30 p.m. ET: The Red Sox (64-80) open a three-game series with the Blue Jays (65-77) in Toronto. The journey north of the border is Boston’s last trek to Canada this season and begins a seven-day, seven-game road trip that ends with a four-game set in St. Petersburg against the Rays.
Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Laffey are the probable starters for Game 145 of the 2012 Red Sox season. The last time Matsuzaka and Laffey squared off, on Sept. 8 in Boston, the skies opened up and dropped buckets of rain at Fenway Park as the Blue Jays rolled to a 9-2 win. Don’t expect any weather delays in the rematch. The forecast inside the Rogers Centre calls for clear skies and 72 degrees.
Matsuzaka is 1-5 with a 7.20 ERA on the season. He lasted only 1 1/3 innings in his last start but got a reprieve from the Red Sox, who decided to give him another shot in the rotation after considering giving him the hook.
Laffery is 3-5 with a 4.43 ERA and has become a Red Sox killer. In three starts against Boston this season, the left-hander is 1-0 with a 1.02 ERA in 17 1/3 innings.
In other words, the Red Sox are due. Very due.
All of the fun gets started at 6 p.m. with NESN’s pregame coverage. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. Enjoy the show with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy on TV, and follow along with us on the live blog for a Friday night you wouldn’t soon forget.