The Boston Red Sox mercifully snaps its seven-game losing streak, beating the Seattle Mariners 4-3 behind a three-run home run by Cody Ross and a solo shot by Ryan Lavarnway.
With the win, the Red Sox improve their record to 63-74, while the Mariners fall to66-71. Jon Lester (9-11) gets the win, Beavan (9-9) gets saddled with the loss and Andrew Bailey picks up his second save of the season.
Well, that's it from this edition of your Red Sox Live Blog. We'll be back with another edition tomorrow, and first pitch is again scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.
For now, adios!
Mid 9th, Red Sox 4-3: We'll see if not adding any insurance runs comes back to hurt the Sox, but credit Oliver Perez — who was nearly out of baseball for his control issues — for getting Ellsbury in a key situation. Suffice to say, it was also a solid decision to not pitch to Pedroia.
For now, on to the bottom of the ninth! As the Red Sox try to hang on to their 4-3 lead and mercifully snap their seven-game losing streak.
End 8th, Red Sox 4-3: Loney has made a number of stellar defensive plays in this one. But more than that, the first baseman has shown the subtle value of positioning, with several balls hit right at him at times Loney was playing in atypical places on the diamond.
Apparently Loney likes to play well off the first base bag, and it's something that's served him well tonight, as have his soft hands and reaction time.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 4-3: So who's in now for the Red Sox? Miller was warming, but it looks like it might be the mercurial Padilla, who's really thrived in a late-inning role after spending most of his career as a starter.
So, the bullpen is setting up just as it should, as the Sox look to actually have a little continuity they haven't had in weeks in terms of definition of roles.
End 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Why haven't we spent more time talking about the job Junichi Tazawa has done of late?
All year it just seems like every time a bullpen arm goes down with injury, gets sent down or traded, someone else rises to the occasion to take their place. Well, Tazawa has posted a 1.69 ERA over his last eight outings, a total of 10 innings.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Now, presumably, the game gets turned over to the bullpen, so it will be interesting to see how Bobby Valentine deploys his troops.
It stands to reason that Alfredo Aceves is no longer part of the late-innings situation, but who is? Well, Andrew Bailey is the closer, and Vicente Padilla hasn't done anything to lose his claim on the setup role. So who do we see in this instance? Breslow? Miller? Mortensen? Is Mortensen even in the big leagues right now?
We shall soon see.
End 6th, Red Sox 4-3: Earlier we were talking about the adjustments that Lester had made throughout this game, and it actually appears he's gotten strong as it's played out. In fact, that last half inning was his first 1-2-3 frame in the game.
At this point, the southpaw actually qualifies for a quality start. One would have to imagine he's done after 111 pitches, but this was a positive outing for Lester. He managed to provide some innings and keep his team in the ballgame without his best stuff.
That's valuable going forward to 2013 and beyond.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 4-3: Signs of life!
First Ross comes up with two on and uses that natural uppercut swing of his to take a hanging curveball from Beavan and hit it well out of the yard. Then, a couple batters later, Ryan Lavarnway takes a fastball out of the yard in a very similar spot.
That's absolutely heartening to see from the Sox, who haven't just lost games on this road trip, but really haven't put up much of a fight. However, the team has now managed to knock Beavan out of the game — who was rolling right along until that last half inning.
End 5th, Mariners 3-0: As we've mentioned a couple times already, Lester had been using his curveball much more often in recent starts.
Well, for whatever reason the lefty hasn't done so nearly as often this evening, but he just got Olivo looking on a vintage slow curve to end the 5th. It's been a pretty effective pitch for Lester and represents his greatest change in velocity from his other pitches.
On days when the cutter isn't quite working, it's turning into an effective secondary pitch for Lester.
Mid 5th, Mariners 3-0: So thus far we haven't mentioned that Beavan has been dealing.
Through five innings, the 23-year-old left-hander has yielded just three hits, no walks and no runs while striking out a single Red Sox batter. That's called effectively pitching to contact, and so far Beavans has done well to work his pitches on both sides of the plate, keeping the ball away from the barrels of the opponents' bats.
End 4th, Mariners 3-0: Lester looks to have made some mid-game adjustments, as he's definitely doing a better job of keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate since Montero's hard-hit single up the middle.
More to the point, Lester's made himself slightly more efficient, now at 74 pitches through four innings. He may not have his best stuff, but even with Buchholz's seven innings last night, the bullpen is still likely pretty gassed from the entirety of this road trip, so this might be the kind of game he'll just have to slog through.
Mid 4th, Mariners 3-0: Earlier in the day, we here at NESN.com reported that former Mets star Keith Hernandez was considering shaving his trademark mustache.
Hernandez being in the news again just brought to mind one of the more entertaining sports moments in scripted television, when the former first baseman made a lengthy cameo on Seinfeld, showing off some pretty impressive thespian skills, especially for an athlete.
Follow this link to check out a Youtube video of Hernandez and the Seinfeld crew spoofing the movie JFK.
End 3rd, Mariners 3-0: Well, credit Lester for bouncing back. However, this may well be the kind of night — just as in Toronto — where the lefty just has to take one for the team and see how many innings he can go.
Otherwise, again, Lester just doesn't look like he has his good stuff out on the hill. He's missing his spots in the middle of the plate and all his pitches look distinctly flat. Oddly enough, Lester hasn't been featuring the curveball in the same way he has been lately, but the fastball, cutter and slider just aren't moving very much.
Mid 3rd, Mariners 1-0: Let's keep a close eye on Lester.
Not only has the southpaw not been particularly sharp just far, but he's already at 47 pitches through just two innings pitched — and only 26 of those have been strikes.
Lester's going to have to get it together quick if he wants to join Clay Buchholz in taking some pressure off of an overused bullpen.
End 2nd, Mariners 1-0: So what's up with Lester's yellow kicks?
As you can read in greater detail by clicking here, NIKE Baseball teamed up with the Livestrong campaign, and Lester decided to don the cleats given his history as a cancer survivor.
It might be considered a bit of an odd decision given that everything Lance Armstrong has been in the news for recently has been negative — realistically, anyone who denies the fact that Armstrong doped at this point is just in serious denial — but, well, there you go.
Mid 2nd, Mariners 1-0: Loney came oh-so close to tying the game there, missing a home run by what looked to be a foot or two. Likewise, credit Saltalamacchia for hitting the ball on the ground on the right side and getting Loney over to third.
From that point on, however, the Red Sox hitters really failed, as with a runner at third, one out and the kind of troubles the team has been having lately, Boston desperately wanted to get that run across. However, Lavarnway hits one right at a drawn-in Brendan Ryan and Ciriaco flies out to center — and Loney is stranded at third.
End 1st, Mariners 1-0: Another day, another early deficit for the Red Sox and Jon Lester, who yield a run on a Monter RBI single.
Anyway, let's take a look at what Blake Beavan has to offer. The right-hander doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but was considered a solid enough prospect that he was made part of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas in 2010. The 23-year-old features a low-90s four-seam fastball, a high-80s two seamer, a developing changeup and a slider.
Command will be the name of the game for the youngster. He's not considered to have the stuff to be a frontline starter, but he has more than enough to at least be an innings eater and win on any given night.
Mid 1st, 0-0: So let's take a look at what Jon Lester has to offer before he hits the mound.
Obviously the left-hander has been much more effective over his last four starts (3-1, 3.21) than the previous six times out (0-5, 8.73), marking an impressive turnaround. Lester features a straight, four-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball which he's used much more often lately, and the occasional changup or slider.
Despite Lester's improvement of late, his mechanics still don't look quite what they did in his prime, featuring a distinctly lower, more sidearm arm slot. However, it hasn't seemed to matter much, as Lester's cutter has gotten a bit more horizontal, but combined with an improving and oft-used curveball, the southpaw's been able to keep hitters off balance.
10:10 p.m.: We have first pitch! And, for those wondering, the gametime temperature at Safeco Field is a very comfortable 70 degrees with 45 percent humidity and winds from the northwest at nine miles per hour.
9:40 p.m.: With much of the focus on the poor efforts of the starting rotation throughout this West Coast road trip, the offense has been unfairly let off the hook a little bit.
With just 16 runs scored over the seven-game losing streak, the hitters need to do a little bit more to carry their weight, with Monday's 4-1 loss to Jason Vargas and the Mariners a prime example.
However, just look at tonight's lineup. Despite a few familiar names in there, it's absolutely not the lineup the club expected to be fielding into September, so likewise it isn't necessarily fair to expect too much of a group that's now largely composed of unknown quantities.
Check out the lineups for both teams below:
Scott Podsednik, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Cody Ross, RF
James Loney, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Lavarnway, DH
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Jose Iglesias, SS
Jon Lester, LHP
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Jesus Montero, DH
Justin Smoak, 1B
Miguel Olivo, C
Trayvon Robinson, LF
Casper Wells, RF
Brendan Ryan, SS
Blake Beavan, RHP
9 p.m.: So, we have a minor Red Sox trade to report, but it actually has a pretty interesting backstory behind it.
Today the Red Sox acquired catcher Guillermo Quiroz from the Mariners — so it shouldn't take him long to report to Boston's clubhouse — for cash considerations. Quiroz, 30, was in Triple-A Tacoma, and will be called up immediately. It gives the Red Sox a backup catcher, something they'd been missing often lately with one of the duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway taking hacks as the designated hitter many nights.
However, an interesting note: Quiroz actually played in the 1994 Little League World Series, representing Maracaibo, Venezuela and claiming the title. However, their opponent that year was a team representing Northridge, California, whose star first baseman ended up playing a little NFL football. His name was Matt Cassel, ever heard of him?
8 a.m. ET: There's no sense in denying or tiptoeing around it. This has been an awful road trip for the Boston Red Sox (62-74), and everybody — players, fans, coaches, front office and ownership alike — are all probably just frustrated by this point.
All that being said, these are some of the expected growing pains for a team trying to see what it has for the future looking toward 2013 and beyond. General manager Ben Cherington admitted as much when talking about last Saturday's megatrade — it wasn't a deal that was designed to make the team better in the here and now. Nonetheless, would it be too much to ask to avoid an eight-game losing streak?
To sidestep that fate, the Red Sox will have to rally behind Jon Lester (8-11, 5.01) as he takes on a rather lackluster Seattle Mariners (66-70) offense. In the left-hander's last time on the hill, Lester actually threw an eight-inning complete game against the Angels, but of course any eight-inning complete game implies a loss, as the 28-year-old also yielded nine hits, three walks and five runs.
Lester will be opposed by 23-year-old right-hander Blake Beavan (9-8, 4.95). A former first-round pick of the Texas Rangers, Beavans was part of the Cliff Lee trade in 2010, and he is coming off seven innings of two-run ball in his last outing — although, granted, that was against an anemic Twins offense.
First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET, but you can tune to NESN beginning at 9 p.m. for Red Sox First Pitch and the rest of the pregame action. Alternatively, you can visit with us here on NESN.com, as this very Red Sox Live blog will have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, all the stats and stories in the hours leading up to Blake Beavan's first toss of the night.
And, as always, follow this live blogger on Twitter at @ZachStoloff to chat Red Sox and all things MLB.