Final, Red Sox Win 2-1: Bailey does very well to get himself out of trouble after creating a bases loaded, one-out jam. It was a nervous moment, but the Red Sox get to play spoiler against the Orioles for a day.
And how about that last fastball? 94 miles per hour and right on the corner — it's virtually an unhittable pitch.
With the win, the Red Sox improve their record to 69-85, while the Orioles fall to 87-65, and as of 4:30 p.m. ET are 1 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East, and are a 1 1/2 games clear of the Athletics and four games clear of the Angels in the wild card chase.
Junichi Tazawa (1-1) picks up his first win of the season, while Luis Ayala (5-5) takes the loss.
Well, that's it from your Red Sox Live Blog. Boston has an off day on Monday, but will be back in action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway on Tuesday. So we'll see you back on NESN.com for that two-game series, but in the mean time remember that we have a Patriots Live Blog for Sunday night's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.
And, as always, be sure to follow the live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and all things MLB any time.
End 8th, Red Sox 2-1: So let's see if Andrew Bailey can get it done this time. His last outing, against the Rays, clearly didn't go so well, so he'll be looking to bounce back and secure a huge win for the Red Sox — insofar as it would be a huge loss for the Orioles.
Also, try to remember this one folks, as Dylan Bundy could be very good for a very long time, and you can say you saw his debut if you happen to be watching. Speaking of teenage phenoms, the now-21-year-old Mike Trout shouldn't be penalized in the MVP race because he doesn't have the same career body of work as Miguel Cabrera. The MVP award shouldn't be looked at as a career achievment, but only judged on what happened during the 2012 season.
And on that note, it doesn't matter much whether or not Cabrera wins the Triple Crown. It would be an impressive achievement, but, if nothing else, Sabermetric thinking has taught us that totals alone don't mean much without context, and Trout is far and away the better overall player. As great a hitter as Cabrera is, Trout can just impact the game in so many more ways. And the only reason his totals aren't more akin to Cabrera's are because he has hit exclusively in the leadoff role, and he wasn't brought up until April 28.
Ultimately, looking at the numbers that matter, Trout has a WAR of 10.5, while Cabrera is just at 6.6 — and that is an enormous gap.
Mid 8th, 1-1: One more time, we wanted to bring back this poll question.
It's an interesting new school versus old school debate on several levels. However, whatever your answer everyone seems to agree that the only two legitimate AL MVP candidates at this point are Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. We'll keep our Cabrera for Triple Crown watch going, but Trout clearly has the better all-around game.
This live blogger will share his opinion in just a bit, but wants to hear your voice, too. Vote in the poll below!
End 7th, 1-1: Heck of a play there by Machado, as the rookie barely gets Ciriaco at first to end the inning.
Speaking of defense, we forgot to mention that Iglesias has had a couple very nice plays on the Red Sox defensive end. If you look up "soft hands" in the dictionary, you will undoubtedly see a picture of the young shortstop, who has further proved his value on that end of the ball.
Now, as we mentioned earlier, he needs to be able to hit enough to stick at the major league level.
Mid 7th, 1-1: That's pretty huge for Doubront. You have to go all the way back to June 13 against the Miami Marlins to find the last time Doubront went a full seven innings. But he does so this afternoon, striking out 11 in the process — getting Andino on a beautifully located curveball to end the inning there.
This is a window into what Doubront is capable of if he continues to pitch with similar aggressiveness, so Red Sox Nation should be excited to have the lefty as a presumed part of the starting rotation heading into 2013. Seeing more efforts like this afternoon next year would go a long, long way to returning the club to contention in short order.
End 6th, 1-1: So, how about Alfredo Aceves, huh?
Suffice to say, the mercurial reliever has exhibited some odd behavior recently, which is a bit disappointing. The right-hander was a big part of the squad that locked down the Sox bullpen for most of the season while Andrew Bailey was on the DL. However, his recent antics kind of undermine that.
Click here to read on opinion on Aceves, and how his craziness is more or less a microcosm for the Red Sox' crazy season.
Mid 6th, 1-1: Normally striking out Reynolds is in no way remarkable, bu that's Doubront's 10th of the game — a new career high.
That's also the reason the lefty finds himself at 98 pitches through just six innings, but at least this time it isn't a product of simply walks. In one respect, Doubront has indeed been much more aggressive, and it's paid off. He'll do better to pitch to contact more often, but if he's done on the afternoon this was indeed a successful outing for Doubront.
End 5th, 1-1: There doesn't appear to be a cloud in the sky, and that's clearly wreaking havoc with the outfielders in this afternoon's contest.
There was already one faux double earlier in this one, and McLouth looked like he was in trouble for a moment on that inning-ending fly ball off the bat of Pedrioia. The moral of the story? Run everything out this afternoon.
Mid 5th, 1-1: We're not sure what Niemann said to Doubront, but it seemed to make a difference, as the lefty beared down and limited the Orioles' damage to a single run.
Doubront's bad innings have had a heavy tendancy to snowball on him, so that's another step in the right direction. He's through five innings and is already at 85 pitches, however, so some habits apparently do die hard.
End 4th, Red Sox 1-0: That scoring play for the Red Sox was a bit of an odd one. First of all, it didn't look like Loney was pressuring the second baseman Andino much, who may have rushed his throw a bit. Then, Reynolds did well to knock the ball down, but the ball squirted far enough away from him that Ross was able to come around and score.
Andino probably correctly received an error on that play for the errant throw, but it's a close call. Either way, the Red Sox have the early lead as they look to play spoiler in this series finale.
Mid 4th, 0-0: It's been a steady diet of four-seam fastballs from Doubront, who through a couple curveballs to Reynolds but otherwise has been a bit of a broken record. Nonetheless, it's a distinct change of pace for the lefty, who is indeed — at least thus far — being far more aggressive.
Of course, it's only a couple innings over the course of a long season, but these are the kinds of adjustments that are part of the process of baseball.
End 3rd, 0-0: That's Tillman's first 1-2-3 inning, who looks to be getting more comfortable out there early. Likewise for Doubront, who also seems settling in.
We'll see if this trend continues, but despite the fortuitous daytime weather, the ball doesn't seem to be traveling. Maybe it's the winds blowing in from approximately over the Green Monster, but it doesn't feel quite like a normal day game on Yawkey.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: As noted on the air by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, Doubront has dictinctly been working much faster this time out on the mound. That's almost certainly an intentional, concious effort on his part which was likely worked out with pitching coach Randy Nieman in the four days betwen starts.
It's encouraging to see that Doubront is dubtly tinkering with his approach in an attempt to improve his command and work deeper into games. Whether or not it makes any difference remains to be seen, but something needs to change with Doubront, he's produced far too many starts in the same mold.
End 2nd, 0-0: Now, every time Jose Iglesias comes up to bat, I expect him to hit a home run.
All kidding aside, it was very nice to see Iglesias finally break through with the bat earlier this week in Tampa, but it's only temporarily overshadowed the fact that his overall body of work since being brought up from Pawtucket probably hasn't been what the Red Sox hoped.
The team certainly wasn't expecting him to be a real plus in the offensive column, but even days after the 3-for-4 with a home run night, Iglesias is still hitting just .140, which — even at the 22-year-old's early age — brings up concerns about his long term viability.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: So just how have the Orioles managed to stake themselves to a record that's 23 games over .500? The most astounding stat in this regard is the O's negative-5 run differential, which suggests a team about a game under the .500 mark.
Baltimore's 16-game winning streak in extra innings is oft-cited, but otherwise such a disparity between actual wins and pythagorean expectation is generally attributed to three factors: a brilliant bullpen, brilliant managing or luck.
The Sabermetric view of managing is that it ultimately matters very little in terms of a team's wins and losses, and the Orioles do have a good bullpen. However, such a winning streak can be attributed to little more than luck, and the Orioles have had to enjoy lots of it to get where they are.
End 1st, 0-0: We've had plenty of opportunities to watch him all year, but let's go through Doubront's repertoire at least one more time.
The southpaw's litany of weapons is one of his greatest tools, as command certainly isn't. Doubront features two and four-seam fastballs, a changeup, a cutter, a slider and a curveball. About the only thing he doesn't feature is a sinker and a gyroball.
That being said, the challenges facing Doubront are unchanged from the beginning of the season. All year he's had difficulties keeping his pitch counts down and working deep into games. He issues too many free passes and generally seems to lack confidence in his own swing-and-miss stuff sometimes. To take the next step, the onus is on Doubront to be more aggressive in the zone and challenge hitters.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Heck of a catch there from Cody Ross. Hopefully he isn't hurt, but he's not the kind of player to hold back, even at the expense of his own health.
Aside from that, what to expect from Orioles starter Chris Tillman? The 24-year-old right hander has a very live arm, with a four-seam fastball consistently clocked in the mid-90s. Otherwise, Tillman features a curveball, a changeup and ocassional cutter.
The success he's enjoyed in 2012 mostly has to do with an improved ability to hide the ball, given his slightly tweaked mechanics, which has brought down his hits per nine innings rate.
1:35 p.m.: We have first pitch, right on schedule! And, for those wondering, the gametime temperature in Boston is 70 degrees and sunny with 38 percent humidity, and winds from the northwest at 12 miles per hour.
1:30 p.m.: Here are the lineups for the Red Sox and Orioles:
Scott Podsednik, CF
Pedro Ciriaco, 2B
Dustin Pedroia, DH
Cody Ross, RF
James Loney, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Danny Valencia, 3B
Daniel Nava, LF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Felix Doubront, P
Nate McLouth, LF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Lew Ford, RF
Chris Davis, DH
Manny Machado, 3B
Robert Andino, 2B
Chris Tillman, P
12:50 p.m. ET: Who should win the AL MVP award?
Everyone agrees that the race has long been down to just a pair of players: Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout and Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera. As of Friday night, Cabrera had positioned himself to capture the Triple Crown, hitting his 42nd home run of the season. In doing so, he also positioned himself as the frontrunner to capture the MVP, if one live blogger's informal Twitter aggregation is to be believed.
I'll take the opportunity to opine on this a little bit later, but for now, we ask the question. Who should be the MVP? Does the Triple Crown make Cabrera automatic — remember, Ted WIlliams won the Triple Crown in 1942 and 1947 and didn't win the MVP either year — or does Trout's defense and all-around game trump Cabrera's one-dimensional attack? Does Cabrera's consistent career body of work matter, or should the MVP award not be holistic?
Vote in the poll below!
8 a.m. ET: The Boston Red Sox (68-85) are ticking off the final games of their moribund season, but not every part of this year has been something to forget for the players who call Fenway Park their home.
One particular bright spot, starting pitcher Felix Doubront (11-9, 5.08 ERA), will take the mound Sunday with a chance to put a strong finish on what was, at points, an admirable season. Doubront spent a good part of the beginning of the year as one of Boston's best, spurting to an 8-3 record behind a great fastball and swing-and-miss pitches. While he's shown fatigue over the last couple of months as he logs more innings than at any point in his career, he's still made several quality starts. The Red Sox will need that again Sunday as Doubront looks to build on his last two outings, where he allowed five earned runs over 12 1/3 innings against the American League East heavyweight Yankees and Rays.
Doubront went six innings and took the loss against the Orioles the last time he saw them on May 22, but he allowed just two earned runs in that start while striking out nine.
The Baltimore Orioles (87-64) will send Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.22) to the mound Sunday as the O's continue their push for the American League East crown. Tillman has been spotty in his appearances for Baltimore this season, including a 4 2/3-inning start against Boston on Aug. 16 when he took the loss while giving up three earned runs.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m., but you can tune in to NESN for the pregame action beginning with the Ultimate Red Sox Show at noon. Or just stick right here with NESN.com and our Red Sox Live Blog, as we'll have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, "all the stats and stories" leading up to the game.
Also, be sure to follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and all things MLB.