Final, Rangers 7-0: Derek Lowe pitched a perfect ninth inning, and the Rangers start off the weekend series in impressive fashion.
Adrian Beltre’s four hits, which included a bases-clearing double, spearheaded Texas’ offensive attack. The Rangers scored five of their seven runs in the fourth inning, and that was more than enough for Derek Holland.
Holland pitched eight shutout innings. He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out a season-high nine. The left-hander was in control throughout, which is something that can’t be said for Red Sox starter Felix Doubront.
Doubront struggled with his control and the Rangers made him work. They also made him pay. Doubront gave up six runs on 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out two while throwing 96 pitches (58 strikes).
The Red Sox will have a chance to exact some revenge on Saturday night, when John Lackey goes up against Alexi Ogando in the second game of a three-game set. Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET. See you then.
Good night, everyone.
End 8th, Rangers 7-0: Adrian Beltre must have decided enough was enough.
Beltre, who has four hits, was retired for the first time in the eighth inning. He grounded back to Clayton Mortensen for the second out.
Mortensen then walked Nelson Cruz, who has reached safely three times, and gave up a single to A.J. Pierzynski. David Murphy struck out swinging, though, and we head to the ninth.
Old friend Derek Lowe is coming on to pitch for Texas.
Mid 8th, Rangers 7-0: That’ll likely do it for Derek Holland, and he was very sharp overall.
Holland gave up a two-out single to Jacoby Ellsbury in the eighth inning, but he once again made sure things didn’t get too dangerous.
Holland threw 112 pitches (76 strikes) in his eight shutout innings. He gave up six hits, walked only one and struck out a season-high nine hitters.
Holland’s slider and sinker were excellent, and when he wasn’t striking guys out, he did a great job of keeping the ball down, which enabled him to record plenty of ground ball outs.
End 7th, Rangers 7-0: Tick, tock. Tick, tock. That’s the way this game feels right now.
The Rangers jumped out to a commanding lead in the fourth inning, and we’ve had a series of relatively uneventful frames since.
The biggest thing to come from the bottom of the seventh was a pitching change. Clayton Mortensen relieved Alex Wilson, who pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief after Felix Doubront was lifted in the fourth.
Mortensen came on after Leonys Martin walked with one out, and he retired both Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. Prior to exiting, Wilson did retire Mitch Moreland — who had been 3-for-3 — for the first time.
Wilson surrendered one run on five hits in his 2 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked one.
Mid 7th, Rangers 7-0: Derek Holland turned in another solid inning in the seventh. He worked around a two-out single, and the Red Sox are running out of outs to make noise.
David Ortiz and Mike Napoli both grounded out, which has been a trend for Holland throughout the evening. The lefty has recorded eight ground ball outs, which speaks to the downward movement of his slider and sinker — both of which have been fantastic in this game.
Will Middlebrooks actually chased a slider in the dirt to end the inning. A.J. Pierzynski blocked the nasty offering and fired down to first to finish off the out. Middlebrooks’ average is now down to .193 with his 0-for-3 night thus far.
Holland has eight strikeouts in the game.
End 6th, Rangers 7-0: The Rangers’ offense was held down in the sixth inning, but Adrian Beltre now has four hits.
Beltre, who delivered a crushing three-run double in the fourth inning, singled into left field in the sixth. Nelson Cruz, who has a pair of hits, grounded into a double play for the inning’s first two outs.
A.J. Pierzynski grounded to third base, and it should have ended the inning. Will Middlebrooks bobbled the ball, though, and the Rangers stayed alive for another batter. David Murphy then flied out to left field.
Mid 6th, Rangers 7-0: The Red Sox got a mini threat going, but it was quickly squashed.
Pedro Ciriaco and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles with one out. That doubled Boston’s hit total for the game, but Derek Holland settled down following a mound visit.
Shane Victorino popped out and Dustin Pedroia grounded out to end the inning.
End 5th, Rangers 7-0: The Rangers are in the driver’s seat. They tacked on another run in the fifth, and their lead is now 7-0.
Mitch Moreland and Leonys Martin (who pinch-hit for Craig Gentry) hit back-to-back singles to set the table for Ian Kinsler. Kinsler then doubled, bringing home Moreland with Texas’ seventh run.
Alex Wilson managed to escape the inning without any further damage inflicted, as he got Elvis Andrus to fly out and Lance Berkman to ground out with two runners in scoring position. The Rangers are still in complete control, though, so it’s hard to find many positives for Boston thus far.
David Murphy, who pinch-hit for Jeff Baker to lead off the fifth, will stay in the game as the new left fielder. Martin will stay in the game in center field.
Mid 5th, Rangers 6-0: Derek Holland was forced to sit a long time while the Rangers’ offense made life difficult for the Red Sox. It didn’t make Holland any less sharp, though.
Holland issued a one-out walk to Jonny Gomes, but he bounced back and got Will Middlebrooks to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Elvis Andrus made a nice backhanded play while going up the middle to start the twin killing.
End 4th, Rangers 6-0: Alex Wilson took over for Felix Doubront with two outs in the fourth inning, and he was greeted with an RBI single from Nelson Cruz.
Wilson got A.J. Pierzynski to pop out to end the inning, but what a disastrous frame for the Red Sox.
Doubront is responsible for all five runs that came across in the fourth inning, and the book is officially closed on him. Doubront gave up six earned runs on 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two, walked one and threw 96 pitches (58 strikes).
It was a total struggle for Doubront from the start. The Rangers made him work — often running the count full — and he was never able to establish any sort of rhythm. Sometimes, Doubront can work his way through such periods of inefficiency, but that was not the case in this game.
9:45 p.m., Rangers 5-0: Have yourself a game, Adrian Beltre.
Felix Doubront has been forced to work all night, and the fourth inning was no different. Doubront exits with two outs in the fourth after Beltre cleared the bases with a three-run double.
Mitch Moreland hit a one-out single into left field to kick off the offensive attack. Doubront bounced back to strike out Craig Gentry, but following the K, things turned rather eventful.
Ian Kinsler singled to set up first and second for Elvis Andrus. Andrus jumped on the second pitch he saw and sent it into left field, bringing home Moreland with Texas’ second run.
Doubront then walked Lance Berkman on four pitches to load the bases for the always dangerous Beltre. Beltre responded by working a full count before driving the bases-clearing double into left-center field.
Beltre is now 3-for-3 in this game.
Mid 4th, Rangers 1-0: The inning started off promising for the Red Sox, but it ended rather abruptly.
Shane Victorino, who struck out in his first at-bat after the layoff, had a very impressive at-bat against Derek Holland. Victorino fouled off six pitches, including five in a row, before yanking a base hit into left field on the tenth pitch of the at-bat.
Dustin Pedroia began posting a similar at-bat, fouling off off four pitches to further wear down Holland, but he eventually struck out swinging on the seventh pitch he saw.
David Ortiz still had a chance to do some damage in the inning. He rolled a sinker over to second base, where Ian Kinsler started up a 4-6-3 double play.
Holland has done a nice job of keeping the ball down thus far, and he’s picking up plenty of strikeouts and ground ball outs as a result.
End 3rd, Rangers 1-0: Felix Doubront has certainly had to work.
Elvis Andrus started the third inning with a single, but he was forced off the basepaths before he could begin causing havoc.
Lance Berkman grounded into a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play after Andrus’ leadoff single. Double plays are always a pitcher’s best friend, but they’re even more welcome when there’s a guy like Andrus — who has eclipsed the 30-steal mark three times in his career — standing on first base.
The Rangers didn’t go quietly from there, though.
Adrian Beltre put up an eight-pitch at-bat before ripping a single into left field. Nelson Cruz followed up by dropping a hit of his own in front of Jonny Gomes, and that brought Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves out of the dugout for a mound visit.
A.J. Pierzynski, sticking with the trend of the evening, worked a full count against Doubront, but the left-hander struck him out on an inside fastball.
Doubront has thrown 68 pitches (40 strikes) thus far.
Mid 3rd, Rangers 1-0: Derek Holland was very sharp again in the third inning.
Holland retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Pedro Ciriaco via ground ball outs before striking out Jacoby Ellsbury for the second time in this game.
Ellsbury chased a slider low and away in the first inning. He went down looking at a slider this time around.
End 2nd, Rangers 1-0: Felix Doubront almost escaped the inning unscathed, but the Rangers pushed across a run with two outs and now hold 1-0 lead.
Doubront retired Nelson Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski to begin the second, but Jeff Baker kicked off a rally with a two-out double down into the left-field corner.
Baker advanced to third base when Mitch Moreland singled into left field. Rangers third base coach Gary Pettis opted to hold Baker at third, which was an iffy decision given there were two outs in the inning.
Pettis’ cautious decision didn’t matter, though, as the Ranger scored when Craig Gentry hit a slow ground ball just past the mound. Pedro Ciriaco fielded the grounder cleanly, but he was forced to rush the throw because of Gentry’s speed. Ciriaco threw it in the dirt, and Mike Napoli was unable to scoop it, which allowed Baker to score. (Gentry was credited with a hit, while Ciriaco was handed an error because Moreland advanced to third on the play.)
Ian Kinsler flied out to end the inning.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: David Ortiz reached to lead off the second inning, but Derek Holland then settled into the rhythm he had going in the first.
Ortiz led off by hitting a groundball to the right side. Ian Kinsler had to range over and play it on the backhand in shallow right field — as the Rangers were in the shift — and that allowed Ortiz to reach.
Holland bounced back to strike out both Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes swinging. Napoli fanned on a changeup, while Gomes fell victim to a slider. Holland now has four K’s through two innings.
Will Middlebrooks ended the inning with a lazy fly ball to right field.
End 1st, 0-0: The first inning was a classic Felix Doubront inning.
Doubront found himself locked in three full counts, gave up two hits and threw 22 pitches, but he ultimately kept the Rangers from scoring.
Ian Kinsler led off the game by singling into center field on the seventh pitch he saw.
Elvis Andrus then grounded back to the mound. Initially, it looked to have “double play” written all over it, but Doubront stepped off the mound before delivering his throw, and the speedy Andrus was able to reach at first.
Lance Berkman popped out, and Adrian Beltre fell behind 0-2. Beltre battled back, though, and he lined a base hit into right field. The only problem was that Andrus rounded the second base bag too far, and Shane Victorino’s throw to the cutoff man, Pedro Ciriaco, resulted in Andrus getting tagged out.
Victorino now has four outfield assists this season, which leads the Red Sox.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Derek Holland was pretty nasty in the first inning.
Holland has a lot of downward movement on his pitches, and he had both Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino off-balance.
Ellsbury looked at two strikes before laying off a ball in the dirt. Holland threw a sick 1-2 slider down and out of the zone, though, and Ellsbury didn’t stand a chance. The Red Sox leadoff man fanned at it for the first out.
Holland also went to the slider to strike out Victorino, who is seeing his first game action since April 24. Victorino may have to shake off some rust, but it’s hard to imagine any hitters coming away from that at-bat with favorable results.
Dustin Pedroia grounded out to short to end the 1-2-3 inning.
8:08 p.m.: Derek Holland’s first pitch is right down the middle, and they’re off to the races in Arlington.
7:55 p.m.: Before we get started, I’d like to wish a happy 36th birthday to Ryan Dempster. It’s probably a joyous one, considering he allowed just one run over six innings while picking up the win on Thursday night.
7:30 p.m.: Friday’s game marks a homecoming of sorts for Mike Napoli, who played two seasons with the Rangers (2011 and 2012). In fact, Texas is where Napoli really started to blossom, although the slugger is elevating his game to another level in Boston.
Napoli has 22 extra-base hits and 31 RBIs through 28 games this season, and he joins some impressive company when it comes to putting up those types of numbers to begin a season. This is only the ninth time since 1916 a player has posted at least 22 extra-base hits and 31 RBIs through a team’s first 28 games. Napoli joins Babe Ruth (1921, 1926), Hack Wilson (1926), Lou Gehrig (1927), Joe Medwick (1937), Willie Mays (1964), Kevin Mitchell (1989) and Alex Rodriguez (2007). Gehrig, Medwick, Mitchell and Rodriguez went on to earn MVP honors in the season that they started off on such a hot streak.
6:30 p.m.: Well, at this point, you may have tuned out the whole situation. Regardless, there are still some new developments concerning the allegations made against Clay Buchholz.
Dirk Hayhurst, the Toronto broadcaster who accused Buchholz of doctoring the baseball during his start against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, is sticking to his guns. He even took some time to respond to Dennis Eckersley, who was very critical of both Hayhurst and fellow broadcaster Jack Morris on Thursday.
Oh yeah, and Kevin Millar weighed in. You can check all that out at the links below.
6:10 p.m.: Shane Victorino is ready to return. He’ll assume his usual role, which entails playing right field and batting second.
Victorino has missed the last seven games with a back injury. He’s had his sights set on a Friday return, and it looks as if he’ll get his wish.
Jonny Gomes will also be in the lineup with the left-hander Derek Holland pitching for Texas. Gomes will play left field and bat sixth, while Daniel Nava will get the night off.
Pedro Ciriaco will start at shortstop in Stephen Drew’s place.
The rest of Thursday’s lineups are below.
Red Sox (20-8)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Felix Doubront (3-0, 4.24 ERA)
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Lance Berkman, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Nelson Cruz, RF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Jeff Baker, LF
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Craig Gentry, CF
Derek Holland (1-2, 3.38 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: Thursday’s 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays wasn’t exactly pretty, but it ensured the Red Sox will enter their three-game set with the Rangers on a high note.
The Sox dropped the first game of their three-game series against the Jays, but they finished off with back-to-back wins, and they’ll now look to make it three in a row in Texas on Friday. Tasked with extending Boston’s winning streak is Felix Doubront, who is a perfect 3-0 this season.
Doubront will go up against Derek Holland in the opener of what should be a very interesting series. The Red Sox and Rangers have looked like two of baseball’s elite squads through the first month of the season, so it’ll be a true test to see what each team is made of at this point in the year.
Friday’s first pitch in Arlington is scheduled for 8:05 p.m., so be sure to tune in on NESN. I also encourage everyone to follow along right here with NESN.com’s live blog. (Then again, I’m pretty biased.)