Final, Orioles 4-3: O's closer Jim Johnson does what his title requires him to do. Johnson starts the ninth by striking out Cody Ross. Endy Chavez, taking over for Chris Davis in right field, then makes a diving catch on a liner by Mauro Gomez. Jarrod Saltalamacchia then pops up to short left field to end the game.
It's a mixed result for the Red Sox. Felix Doubront (11-10) strikes out ten batters, but gets the loss after giving up a home run to O's rookie Manny Machado. O's reliever Tommy Hunter (7-8) gets the win for the O's. Hunter settled down the Sox after five up-and-down innings by Steve Johnson.
We'll see you bright and early on Sunday for the Sox' final game this season in Baltimore.
End 8th, Orioles 4-3: Junichi Tazawa excels in relief of Felix Doubront. Tazawa faces the heart of the O's order and takes them down in order. It's crunch time for the Sox in the ninth. Cody Ross, Mauro Gomez, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will bat for Boston.
Mid 8th, Orioles 4-3: The O's bullpen comes through in the eighth inning. Brian Matusz gets Jacoby Ellsbury and pinch hitter Daniel Nava to ground out. Darren O'Day then relieves Matusz and gets Dustin Pedroia to line out to third base. The Sox look to keep the O's at bay in the eighth. Junichi Tazawa relieves Felix Doubront.
End 7th, Orioles 4-3: Doubront is likely done for the night after this inning, and while he's given up the lead, he's also kept the Sox in the game. Doubront gives up a home run to Manny Machado to start the inning, then follows up with a walk to Lew Ford, then gives up a one-out single to Nate McLouth. To his credit, however, Doubront closes down the O's with strikeouts of J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. The Sox are in striking distance of the O's, with Jacoby Ellsbury leading it off in the eighth.
Mid 7th, 3-3: O's reliever Tommy Hunter stays strong through the seventh inning, limiting the Sox to a Pedro Ciriaco single. Felix Doubront returns for the Sox in the bottom of the seventh.
End 6th, 3-3: The middle of the O's lineup was middling in the sixth inning. Felix Doubront strikes out Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. After allowing a single to Chris Davis, Doubront gets Mark Reynolds to hit into a fielder's choice to second. Home run hero Jarrod Saltalamacchia leads it off for the Sox in the seventh.
Mid 6th, 3-3: The Red Sox get back in the game thanks to some bad pitching and an O's error. Steve Johnson is done for the night. The O's pitcher was solid through four innings, but gave up Jarrod Saltalamacchia's 2-run homer in the fifth inning and gave up a hit to and a walk to start the sixth. After O's reliever Tommy Hunter came in, O's right fielder Chris Davis bobbled a Cody Ross fly ball, allowing Jacoby Ellsbury to score. The O's have the heart of their order coming up.
End 5th, Orioles 3-2: O's DH Lew Ford reaches on a single and makes it to third base with two outs, but Felix Doubront gets J.J. Hardy to ground out to the pitcher's mound to end the inning. The Sox are threatening the O's heading into the sixth inning, and Jacoby Ellsbury kicks it off for Boston next.
Mid 5th, Orioles 3-2: Jarrod Saltalamacchia gets the Red Sox back in the game with a two-run home run to right field, scoring himself and Mauro Gomez. Don Orsillo notes that O's pitcher Steve Johnson hadn't given up runs in a month until Salty's homer.
O's first baseman Mark Reynolds will make it onto SportsCenter tonight after making an incredible diving catch over the tarp roll on a Mike Aviles foul ball.
End 4th, Orioles 3-0: Adam Jones reaches first for the O's on an error by Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles. One out later, Chris Davis takes Felix Doubront deep for his 30th home run of the season. The O's have a three-run lead. OK, then. Mauro Gomez is up first for the Sox in the fifth.
Mid 4th, Orioles 1-0: Steve Johnson gets dinged on Dustin Johnson's grounder up the middle, but he's all smiles afterward. Who wouldn't be happy after that? Following the ding, Johnson gets behind to Cody Ross, but gets Ross to hit into an inning-ending double play. Credit goes to Orioles 3B Manny Machado for a good globe stab on the Ross shot. The heart of the O's order is up in the bottom of the fourth.
End 3rd, Orioles 1-0: Felix Doubront recovers in style in the bottom of the third inning. Doubront gets Robert Andino and Nate McLouth to strike out, then induces a flyout from J.J. Hardy. J.J. is an odd name for an adult man. Anyway, the Sox are still close with the fourth inning coming up.
Mid 3rd, Orioles 1-0: It's more nada for the Sox in the top of the third. Steve Johnson shuts down the Sox in order. Felix Doubront looks to recover from a shaky second inning with Robert Andino coming up for the O's.
End 2nd, Orioles 1-0: Jacoby Ellsbury may not be known for his arm, but he did a nice job throwing Mark Reynolds out at second on a Manny Machado single.
Chris Davis got about as good of a jump as you're ever going to see from a 6-foot-3, 232-pound baseball player. Davis isn't otherwise fleet-footed, he has just six career stolen bases.
Doubront has been known to have a rough inning during an otherwise solid outing, so hopefully that's what we saw here in the 2nd. Doubront is up to 36 pitches through two innings.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Cody Ross gets the first hit of the game, but gets thrown out stealing by a mile in what Don and Jerry are suspecting was a missed signal on Ross' part.
Johnson continues to look sharp for the Orioles, grabbing his second strikeout of the night on Mauro Gomez.
Excitement was abound in Baltimore over the Yankees losing. The O's are now just 1/2 game back in the AL East.
End 1st, 0-0: Not to be outdone by his counterpart, Doubront also goes 1-2-3 with a strikeout.
After a brutal August and start to September, Doubront has been great in his last three starts. A lot of people expected Doubront's struggles to be tied to his arm tiring, that appears to not be the case.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Steve Johnson — no not the wide receiver the Patriots will be facing off against on Sunday — is off to a fast start against the Sox. The righty made quick work of the Sox going 1-2-3 on 13 pitches.
Johnson struck out Ellsbury in his return to the lineup. Expect a lot more out of that from Johnson. He's now struck out 44 in 34.1 innings.
7:18 p.m. The first pitch is underway to the returning Jacoby Ellsbury.
7:14 p.m.: The game's getting underway a little late tonight due to the festivities surrounding Brooks Robinson Day at Camden Yards.
Robinson is widely considered the best defensive third baseman in MLB history. Fangraphs has Adrian Beltre as the best active fielding third baseman in MLB history with Scott Rolen trailing right behind him.
For the 2012 season alone, Mike Moustakas and David Wright have been the best according to Fangraphs.
6:18 p.m.: Bobby Valentine had some interesting things to say on Michael Kay's radio show on Friday. He said that he could have followed some of his friend Al Leiter's advice a bit more this season.
Leiter said that he told the Red Sox manager that Josh Beckett was the key to keeping the clubhouse together.
6:07 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury makes his long-waited return. Here are your lineups for Saturday night:
Red Sox (69-88)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Scott Podsednik, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
Mauro Gomez, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Lavarnway, DH
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Mike Aviles, SS
Felix Doubront, LHP
Nate McLouth, LF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C
Chris Davis, RF
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Manny Machado, 3B
Lew Ford, DH
Robert Andino, 2B
Steve Johnson, RHP
8:00 a.m. ET: It's been a long, long season for the Boston Red Sox, but, perhaps mercifully, it's finally winding down.
That being said, the Sox have five more games to go in the season, and they could still play a major role in determining how the American League East unfolds. Entering play Saturday, Boston's opponent for the weekend, the Baltimore Orioles, find themselves just a single game back of the Yankees for division sumpremacy, so anything can happen. The Red Sox close out their 2012 campaign against the Orioles and Yankees, so Boston baseball still has a lot of importance.
To play spoiler, the Red Sox turn to one of the bright spots from this lost season, left-handed rookie Felix Doubront. The 24-year-old has been a mixed bag this year, showing almost limitless potential but consistently having trouble keeping his pitch counts downs and working deep into games. However, Doubront had one of his best games of the season last time out, throwing seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball that featured a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Opposing Doubront will be Steve Johnson, who only has 33 1/3 career innings pitched but is the go-to guy as Baltimore tries to catch New York in the East. Johnson has appeared in 11 games this year, but he has mostly worked as a long reliever, seeing just three starts in his rookie season. The 25-year-old has been impressive in his limited work, though, limiting opponents to a .165 batting average and a 1.02 WHIP.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET, but you can tune into NESN beginning at 6 p.m. with Red Sox First Pitch. Or just stick around NESN.com, as our Red Sox Live Blog will have everything you need to know leading up to the game.
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