Final, Rangers 5-1: The Rangers are starting to flex their muscles.
Joe Nathan enjoyed a 1-2-3 ninth inning, and Texas has now taken the first two games of what was supposed to be a very competitive series between two of the American League’s best teams.
Sure, we’re still looking at two of the AL’s best, but the Rangers have had their way with the Sox thus far. On Saturday, Ian Kinsler’s leadoff home run set the tempo, and Texas seized control with a two-run fourth inning, during which John Lackey struggled with his control. Craig Gentry later extended the lead with a two-run home run in the eighth inning.
Alexi Ogando went six solid innings for Texas. He allowed one run on six hits while walking two and striking out four. Lackey surrendered three runs on six hits while walking three and striking out four in five innings of work.
The Red Sox had some chances, including a second-and-third situation in the seventh inning, but they simply couldn’t cash in. The Sox finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
We have quite the pitching matchup on tap for Sunday. Jon Lester and Yu Darvish will square off in a clash of two aces. Sunday’s first pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET.
Good night, everyone.
End 8th, Rangers 5-1: We’ve seen Craig Gentry use speed in this series. In the eighth inning, he used power.
Gentry drilled a two-run home run into the seats in left, and the Rangers look like they’re on their way to another victory. Mitch Moreland set the table with a broken-bat double off the right-field wall.
Koji Uehara struck out Leonys Martin and got Ian Kinsler to fly out to right field to end the inning.
The Red Sox will send up Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury against Joe Nathan in the ninth.
Mid 8th, Rangers 3-1: The Rangers are three outs away from taking the first two games of this series.
David Ortiz drilled a fly ball to center field to lead off the eighth inning. In July or August — when the ball travels better in the Texas summer heat — it might have left the yard. This time, it was just a long out, as Craig Gentry made the catch near the edge of the warning track.
Tanner Scheppers, who recorded the final out of the seventh inning, then drilled Mike Napoli. Napoli didn’t look too pleased about the pitch. He gave Scheppers a glance and tossed his bat to the ground before taking his base.
The hit batter meant the Red Sox had the tying run at the plate. Neither Daniel Nava nor Jarrod Saltalamacchia could come through. Nava flied out to left field, and Saltalamacchia lined out to Elvis Andrus, who was to the right of the second base bag because of the shift.
Koji Uehara will come on for Boston. This marks the first time this season he’ll enter a game with the Red Sox trailing.
End 7th, Rangers 3-1: Junichi Tazawa gave up a leadoff single and then struck out the side.
Elvis Andrus started the inning with a single into center field, and he even advanced to second base after stealing with Adrian Beltre at the plate. Tazawa was very effective, though, and the Red Sox will head to the eighth inning trailing by just two runs.
Tazawa struck out Lance Berkman, Beltre and then A.J. Pierzynski.
Berkman, who has now fanned twice, struck out swinging on a fastball, as did Beltre and Pierzynski. Tazawa showed off some good offspeed in the inning as well.
Mid 7th, Rangers 3-1: Tanner Scheppers came on and got the job done.
Dustin Pedroia bounced a 1-1 fastball to first base. Mitch Moreland made the play and flipped to Scheppers, who was covering the bag, to retire the hustling Pedroia and end the threat.
The Red Sox really need to start cashing in on these opportunities, as they’re down to their final six outs.
10:17 p.m., Rangers 3-1: The Rangers will make their second pitching change of the inning with the Red Sox threatening.
Robbie Ross entered the game and immediately got Stephen Drew to ground into a force out. Jacoby Ellsbury singled into center, and Shane Victorino then made a productive out. The Flyin’ Hawaiian bounced to first baseman Mitch Moreland, which moved Drew to third and Ellsbury to second.
Tanner Scheppers will enter the game for Texas with Dustin Pedroia at the plate and two runners in scoring position.
10:11 p.m., Rangers 3-1: Alexi Ogando started the seventh inning, but he was greeted with a Will Middlebrooks single.
The Rangers will turn to the bullpen. Robbie Ross is coming in to pitch.
End 6th, Rangers 3-1: Andrew Miller has had some mixed results this season. In the sixth inning, he was effective.
Miller gave up a leadoff single to Mitch Moreland, but then recorded three straight outs.
Miller nearly induced a double play after Moreland’s single. Dustin Pedroia made a nice diving stop and quickly flipped to Stephen Drew for the first out, but Craig Gentry was just way too fast for the Red Sox to execute the twin killing.
Leonys Martin flied out to left field for the second out, and Ian Kinsler grounded back to the mound to end the inning. Miller almost threw the ball away after fielding Kinsler’s comebacker, but Mike Napoli stretched out and hauled it in.
The book is officially closed on John Lackey. He gave up three earned runs on six hits and three walks. Lackey struck out four and threw 98 pitches (61 strikes) in five innings.
Mid 6th, Rangers 3-1: Two runners, but zero runs.
The Red Sox have had at least one baserunner in every inning except the first, but they still have just one run to show for it. In the sixth inning, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava reached with two outs, but Alexi Ogando escaped any further trouble.
Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz each grounded out to begin the inning.
Pedroia hit a hard comebacker that Ogando actually knocked down with his bare hand. That brought the Rangers’ trainer out, but everything checked out OK.
Ortiz then grounded into the shift. Ian Kinsler made the play on the outfield grass to the right of the second base bag.
Napoli, who has hit the ball hard a couple of times, now has a hit to show for his effort. He stayed back on a curveball and drove it into center field to kick off Boston’s mini rally.
Daniel Nava was then hit by a pitch, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out swinging to end the inning.
Home plate umpire Gerry Davis ruled that Saltalamacchia went around on a check swing on the first pitch, which frustrated the Red Sox catcher and some players in the Boston dugout. Salty never rebounded from there, and he struck out on three pitches.
End 5th, Rangers 3-1: John Lackey wasn’t always sharp, but he made it through five innings with only three Texas runs on the scoreboard. Boston’s bats now need to wake up.
The Rangers still forced Lackey to work in the fifth inning despite not adding anything in the runs column. Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre hit back-to-back singles with one out, which further increased Lackey’s pitch count, if nothing else.
Lackey got out of the inning by inducing a pair of fly outs to A.J. Pierzynski and Nelson Cruz.
Lackey has thrown 98 pitches (61 strikes), so it’s highly unlikely we’ll see any more of him in this game.
Mid 5th, Rangers 3-1: Stephen Drew led off with a walk, but unlike the Rangers, the Red Sox couldn’t take advantage of the free pass.
Jacoby Ellsbury ripped a line drive down to first base, but it was right at Mitch Moreland. Moreland made the play and stepped on the bag for the unassisted double play.
Shane Victorino ended the inning by skying a fly ball to center that had the makings of some trouble. The Rangers exhibited good communication, though, and center fielder Craig Gentry hauled it in.
End 4th, Rangers 3-1: Walks kill. And in the fourth inning, they got the best of John Lackey.
Lackey was very careful with Adrian Beltre, who worked a one-out walk on five pitches. The righty showed a good mix of pitches to A.J. Pierzynski, but Pierzynski went to the opposite field — something he rarely does — to beat the shift and set up runners at first and second.
Lackey got Nelson Cruz to fly out to right field, during which Beltre advanced to third base, but more trouble ensued from there.
Lackey walked Mitch Moreland, who also had a solid game on Friday, to load the bases for Craig Gentry. Gentry bounced a ground ball to third base that Will Middlebrooks backed up and made a backhanded play on. Middlebrooks’ throw to first was a bit off the mark, though, and it got away from Mike Napoli, allowing two runs to score.
Middlebrooks has two errors in this game and three in the series. But Gentry can really fly, and speed certainly played into the rushed throw. Even with a good pitch and catch by Middlebrooks and Napoli, Gentry may have reached. The error was assessed because of the second run that came around.
Lackey issued his third walk of the inning to Leonys Martin, which loaded the bases for Ian Kinsler — the guy Lackey least wanted to see with the bags packed. Kinsler, who has had tremendous success against Lackey, went deep earlier in the game, and he threatened to do so again, but his shot down the left-field line sailed just foul. Kinsler eventually grounded out to second base.
All things considered, it could have been a lot worse for Lackey, but the Rangers still managed to grab the lead. The righty has thrown 80 pitches (47 strikes) thus far, but the fourth inning required plenty of high-stress pitches, so that could play a factor in how much longer he goes.
Mid 4th, 1-1: Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove a two-out double into the right-field corner, but the Red Sox again failed to capitalize with a runner in scoring position.
Mike Napoli led off the inning with a hot smash back at Alexi Ogando. The Rangers starter made the play, though, and he fired to first for the out.
Daniel Nava then flew out to center, as did Will Middlebrooks after Salty’s double.
End 3rd, 1-1: Leonys Martin led off the bottom of the third with a single, but a big caught-stealing benefited John Lackey.
Ian Kinsler popped out for the first out, and Martin took off for second base with Elvis Andrus at the plate. Jarrod Saltalamacchia delivered a strong throw, and Martin was ruled out on the attempted steal.
Replays show that Martin got his foot in ahead of the tag, so the Sox certainly caught a break.
Andrus grounded out to end the inning.
Lackey also stumbled off the mound a bit during a pitch in the inning. He was given a warmup throw, and everything seems to be OK. It’s always scary when something like that happens, though, especially when it’s someone with an injury history like Lackey’s.
Mid 3rd, 1-1: The Red Sox threatened a bit in the third inning, but they couldn’t gain an edge.
After Stephen Drew led off the inning with a ground out, Jacoby Ellsbury singled into right-center field. Ellsbury then stole his 12th base of the season. It was a close play, but Ellsbury’s heal got in ahead of the tag.
Shane Victorino, playing in just his second game since returning from a back injury, increased the threat by working a walk. Alexi Ogando bounced back, though. Ogando struck out Dustin Pedroia and got Davie Ortiz to fly out to left.
Ortiz, who doubled in his first at-bat, actually gave Ogando’s offering a pretty good ride to left, but Leonys Martin was able to backtrack and snag it.
End 2nd, 1-1: John Lackey looked a lot sharper in the second inning.
Lackey picked up two K’s while tossing a perfect frame. He got Nelson Cruz swinging at a fastball, and he got Craig Gentry looking at a fastball to end the inning.
Lackey had some first-inning struggles in his last start before settling down in a big way. We’ll see if his impressive second inning can pave the way for similar success in this game.
Mid 2nd, 1-1: The Red Sox are already in a better position than they were at any point on Friday. Daniel Nava’s RBI single tied the game in the second inning.
David Ortiz led off the inning with a rocket to left-center field that ended with him cruising into second base with a standup double.
Mike Napoli struck out swinging on an offspeed offering that Alexi Ogando actually left up in the zone. It certainly wasn’t an ideal location for such a pitch, but Napoli came up empty.
Daniel Nava ensured the Red Sox would take advantage of Ortiz’s leadoff double, though. Nava drilled a single into center field. Craig Gentry came up firing to the plate, but his throw was off the mark, and it’s a good thing. A good throw would have had Ortiz dead to rights.
Ogando struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia for out No. 2. He went with a curveball down and out of the zone, and Salty couldn’t lay off.
Nava advanced to second when Ogando threw a wild pitch with Will Middlebrooks at the plate, but Middlebrooks couldn’t take advantage of having a runner in scoring position. Middlebrooks put up a nice-bat, fouling off three straight pitches, but it ended with him lifting a lazy fly ball to right field.
End 1st, Rangers 1-0: It didn’t take long for Ian Kinsler to continue his assault on John Lackey.
Kinsler — who, as I mentioned, entered the game hitting .438 in his career against the right-hander — jumped all over Lackey’s first pitch of the night. He drove it into the seats in left-center field for his sixth home run of the season.
It was actually a rather weird home run. It was obvious off the bat that Kinsler made good contact, but Daniel Nava initially acted as if he had the ball sized up. Nava then threw his palms to the sky, making it clear that he lost the ball in the sun. And when the ball landed, it came down over the fence.
Elvis Andrus struck out for the first out, and John Lackey then froze Lance Berkman with a 3-2 fastball on the inside corner for the second out.
The inning was extended when Adrian Beltre grounded to third base. Will Middlebrooks made the play, but his throw brought Mike Napoli off the first base bag.
Middlebrooks, who also made an error in Friday’s game, bounced back, though. A.J. Pierzynski hit a broken-bat ground ball to third that Middlebrooks took care of to end the inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Derek Holland pitched eight shutout innings in the Rangers’ 7-0 victory on Friday. Alexi Ogando is off to a good start in this one.
Ogando fell behind Jacoby Ellsbury after throwing a first pitch strike. He got the Red Sox’ leadoff man to pop out into shallow left field, though.
Shane Victorino then grounded out to second, and Dustin Pedroia lifted a lazy fly ball to right field that Nelson Cruz hauled in to end the inning.
8:06 p.m.: Alexi Ogando’s first pitch is a strike, and we’re under way.
7:30 p.m.: John Lackey is the man asked to turn this series in Boston’s favor, but he hasn’t exactly had the best success against Texas in the past.
Lackey, who faced the Rangers quite a bit while with the Angels, enters Saturday’s start with a 12-14 record in 36 career starts against Texas. He owns a 6.16 career ERA in those 36 starts.
Ian Kinsler has had the most success against Lackey. He enters the game with a .438 average (14-for-32), three home runs and eight RBIs against the right-hander. David Murphy (.438, 7-for-16) has also had success.
6:30 p.m.: As mentioned, Game 2 of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series will air on NESN, while the Red Sox-Rangers game will air on NESNplus. The link to Saturday’s NESNplus channel listings is at the bottom of this blog.
If you’re looking to keep up with the B’s while watching the Sox, you can also follow NESN.com’s Bruins live blog. My good friend Mike Cole will be covering the action, and he’s quick on his feet.
5:50 p.m.: The Red Sox will roll out a pretty standard lineup on Saturday. Daniel Nava and Stephen Drew will both be back in the lineup after getting the night off on Friday.
Check out Saturday’s complete lineups below.
Red Sox (20-9)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
John Lackey, RHP (1-1, 2.61 ERA)
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Lance Berkman, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Nelson Cruz, RF
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Craig Gentry, CF
Leonys Martin, RF
Alexi Ogando (2-2, 3.38 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: The Rangers took Round 1, but there are still two rounds to go.
Texas got to Felix Doubront for a big five-run fourth inning and coasted to an impressive 7-0 victory on Friday. Now, it’s up to John Lackey to get the Sox back on track in the second game of a three-game set between two of the American League’s elite teams.
Leading the way for Texas on Friday was old friend Adrian Beltre. He racked up four hits, including a bases-clearing double in the fourth, while the Sox were only able to muster up a total of six hits. Rangers starter Derek Holland was locked in, tossing eight shutout innings and striking out a season-high nine batters in the process.
Lackey takes the ball for his third start of the season. He went down with a biceps strain in his first start, which forced him to the disabled list, but he was very impressive in start No. 2. Lackey escaped any trouble that came his way on Sunday, and he pitched six innings of one-run ball. That was even more than Lackey or manager John Farrell expected in the right-hander’s first start after a DL stint.
Going up against Lackey will be Alexi Ogando. Ogando started off the season 2-0 and was very impressive in his first three starts. He now enters the contest with a 2-2 record and a 3.38 ERA.
Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. The Bruins will be in playoff action on NESN, but you can find all of Saturday’s Red Sox-Rangers action on NESN plus. If you’re unsure of your NESNplus channel, click the link below.