Final, Tigers 4-3: Andrew Bailey has blown another save.
Bailey walked Victor Martinez to begin the ninth inning. Jhonny Peralta then smacked a two-run, walk-off homer over the left field fence to give the Tigers a 4-3 win.
The blown save continues a rough stretch for Bailey, who also blew a save in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He’s now blown three of his last five save chances, as he also blew a save against the Rays on June 10. The big difference this time around, however, is that the Red Sox suffered a loss.
Red Sox manager John Farrell has stood by Bailey, saying on Wednesday that Bailey was definitely the team’s closer. The skipper understands that there’s work to be done, though, and it’s worth noting that Andrew Miller began warming up in the Boston bullpen after Bailey issued the leadoff walk.
Bailey’s blown save in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader spoiled a gem by Felix Doubront. On Thursday, his struggles spoiled a solid effort from John Lackey, who surrendered just two runs over seven innings.
Jon Lester will try to overcome his own struggles when the Red Sox and Tigers go at it again on Friday. That game will kick off at 7:08 p.m.
Good night, everyone.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-2: Shane Victorino caused some racket with two down, but Drew Smyly managed to keep this a one-run game.
Smyly struck out Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury to begin the eighth inning. The third out was a little more elusive, as Victorino capped at eight-pitch at-bat with a double into right-center field.
Victorino fouled off three straight pitches before going the other way with a fastball. He quickly swiped third base to put himself within 90 feet of scoring Boston’s fourth run.
Smyly ended the inning with another strikeout. Dustin Pedroia worked the count full, but he couldn’t check his swing on a 3-2 fastball up and away.
Andrew Bailey will try to close out this one-run game. He’s been struggling of late, so this is a huge outing for the right-hander. It could either cause his skid to snowball even further or it could give him a big boost of confidence.
Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Andy Dirks are scheduled to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
End 8th, Red Sox 3-2: Koji Uehara did an excellent job, per usual.
Uehara performed the difficult task of shutting down Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Price Fielder in order. It wasn’t before Fielder made a bid to tie the game, though.
Hunter grounded out to short and Miguel Cabrera struck out. Cabrera, who does have a double, has struck out three times in this game. Uehara fanned him with a high fastball.
Fielder fell behind in the count against Uehara, but he then launched a deep fly ball to right-center field. Jacoby Ellsbury raced back and hauled it in on the warning track.
In some other ballparks, we might be looking at a tie game. Not here.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-2: Drew Smyly made sure that the Red Sox scored just one run in the eighth inning.
Smyly, who entered with runners at first and second and no outs, struck out Mike Napoli for the first out. Napoli chased a cut-fastball in the dirt before heading back to the dugout.
Jonny Gomes then popped out to Miguel Cabrera in foul territory along the third base line for the second out.
The pressure kicked up a notch when Smyly threw a pitch near Ryan Lavarnway’s feet. Home plate umpire Scott Barry ruled that it hit Lavarnway, and that loaded the bases for Will Middlebrooks. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz would have moved up a base regardless of the call — as the pitch got by catcher Brayan Pena — but it was the second missed call by Barry in this game.
Fortunately for the Tigers, it didn’t hurt them. Middlebrooks flied out to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
Koji Uehara will pitch the eighth inning for Boston.
9:28 p.m., Red Sox 3-2: Walks will kill you. Just ask Phil Coke.
Coke, who struck out Jacoby Ellsbury to end the seventh inning, came back out to start the eighth. He threw eight straight balls, and walked both Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia.
David Ortiz made Coke pay for his control issues. He singled into right field, which plated Victorino with Boston’s go-ahead run.
Jim Leyland will now make a pitching change as Detroit tries to play damage control. Drew Smyly will take over.
End 7th, 2-2: John Lackey has pitched very well. He’s now through seven innings.
Andy Dirks, who was a late addition to the Tigers’ lineup, led off with a single into left-center field.
Omar Infante tried to move Dirks into scoring position, but his bunt bid was popped up to the right side, and Lackey came off the mound to make the play. Lackey looked to first to see if a double play was possible, but Dirks didn’t stray too far from the bag.
Brayan Pena, who is very slow, nearly grounded into a double play to end the inning, but a big take-out slide by Dirks put the kibosh on Boston’s effort. In fact, after looking at the replay, it looked like Dirks’ slide was rather egregious, as he was well out of the basepath. In any event, it got the job done, and Pena reached at first.
Lackey exited the inning unharmed by striking out Austin Jackson.
Mid 7th, 2-2: Two pitchers combined to keep Boston off the scoreboard in the seventh inning.
Luke Putkonen, who pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, started the frame. He retired Will Middlebrooks and Jose Iglesias on a pair of flyouts, giving him five consecutive outs.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland then decided to make a pitching change after a job well done by Putkonen. He called upon Phil Coke to record the final out of the seventh.
Coke needed just three pitches to strike out Jacoby Ellsbury. The lefty went with all offspeed stuff, tossing three straight sliders to get Ellsbury swinging.
End 6th, 2-2: Prince Fielder tried to carry Detroit’s offensive momentum into the sixth inning. His effort was quickly snuffed out.
Fielder led off with a single into right field, but Victor Martinez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to give John Lackey some relief.
Lackey got Jhonny Peralta to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
You really can’t say enough about the job that Jose Iglesias has done thus far. Not only is he hitting, but he’s also looked fantastic at both shortstop and third base. We always knew he was a slick defender, but his versatility has become a huge asset for Boston.
Mid 6th, 2-2: Luke Putkonen took over for Jose Alvarez in the sixth inning. He did a nice job.
Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Ryan Lavarnway went down in order against the new Tigers pitcher.
Napoli flied out to right field, Gomes struck out swinging and Lavarnway grounded out to third.
Gomes is now 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in this contest.
End 5th, 2-2: Talk about a frustrating inning for John Lackey.
Lackey walked Andy Dirks with one out, but Omar Infante popped out for the second out, and it looked as if Lackey was on his way to another strong inning.
Things quickly unraveled, and it happened in interesting fashion.
Brayan Pena singled into right field to put runners at first and second with two down. Austin Jackson then hit a ball that bounced slowly to third base. Will Middlebrooks charged it to make a play, but it was clear that he had no shot at throwing anyone out, and he thus decided to eat it. That loaded the bases.
Torii Hunter stepped up with the bags packed, and he hit a ball off the end of the bat. The softly hit blooper dropped into right field, plating both Dirks and Pena while Jackson took third.
Lackey struck out Miguel Cabrera for the second time to make sure that the Tigers didn’t grab a lead. But we suddenly have a tie ballgame after a few well-placed singles got the best of Lackey.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury are both feeling it, and the pair combined for a run in the fifth inning.
Iglesias led off with a hit into right field. Initially, it looked as if Iglesias would have himself a single, but the ball scooted past Torii Hunter and rolled all the way to the wall. Iglesias tossed on the jets at that point, and he ended up with an easy triple.
It took one pitch for Ellsbury to drive him in. Ellsbury saw a fastball he liked, and he drilled it into center field for an RBI single.
Jose Alvarez bounced back to retire the next three hitters — Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz — in order. All three outs were flyball outs.
Iglesias saw his 18-game hit streak get snapped on Wednesday, but he’s still in the midst of a heck of a stretch. He’s reached base safely in a career-high 23 consecutive games with a plate appearance dating back to May 24, and he’s hitting .427 (32-for-75) in that span.
Ellsbury has hit safely in 16 of his last 19 games. He’s hitting .378 (31-for-82) during that stretch.
End 4th, Red Sox 1-0: John Lackey struck out Miguel Cabrera in the slugger’s first at-bat. Miggy got back at him in his second at-bat.
Cabrera put an inside-out swing on a first-pitch fastball, and he drilled it over Shane Victorino’s head in right field. The ball bounced off the wall, and Cabrera coasted into second base with a one-out double.
Prince Fielder — the other half of Detroit’s dangerous duo — then flied out to center field for the second time. It was relatively shallow, and Cabrera couldn’t advance.
Cabrera did move up to third base with Victor Martinez batting, though. John Lackey missed with a pitch down, and Ryan Lavarnway couldn’t corral it, leading to a wild pitch.
Lackey still managed to escape the inning unharmed. Martinez, who saw seven pitches in his at-bat, eventually labeled a ground ball down to first base. Mike Napoli made an excellent pick and stepped on the bag for the final out, which left Cabrera hanging at third base.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 1-0: David Ortiz must have known that Jose Alvarez would try to get ahead.
Ortiz crushed a first-pitch home run into the right field seats to lead off the fourth inning. Alvarez threw a get-me-over fastball down in the zone, and Ortiz jumped all over it to give Boston the lead.
Mike Napoli, who has really cooled off in June, followed up by bouncing a ball into the hole. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta made a backhanded play, took a step and fired to first to retire Napoli, who didn’t get down the line all that well.
Alvarez struck out Jonny Gome swinging for the second out before Ryan Lavarnway picked up his first hit since being recalled on Tuesday. Lavarnway sent a double into the left field corner.
The Red Sox couldn’t use Lavarnway’s two-out double to increase their lead, though. Will Middlebrooks grounded softly to Prince Fielder to end the inning.
Ortiz’s 15th home run of the season gave Boston a lead. Now, it’s up to John Lackey to keep rolling.
End 3rd, 0-0: Omar Infante delivered a one-out double, but second base was as far as he’d advance.
John Lackey was once again sharp in the third inning, as Infante’s double down the left field line was the right-hander’s only hiccup. Lackey induced three groundball outs to keep the Tigers off the board.
Andy Dirks grounded out to second base to lead off the inning. After Infante’s two-bagger, Brayan Pena and Austin Jackson grounded to third base and shortstop, respectively.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Jose Alvarez tried to give the Red Sox a lead. They didn’t accept the offer.
Alvarez recorded two quick outs in the third inning before the wheels started falling off. Ryan Lavarnway grounded out to Miguel Cabrera, who made a nice scoop down at third base, and Will Middlebrooks flied out to right fielder Torii Hunter. After that, Alvarez couldn’t find the strike zone.
Alvarez threw nine straight balls, walking both Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury in the process. Alvarez finally threw a strike with Shane Victorino batting — which draw a mock cheer from the Detroit crowd — but he “hit” Victorino with his 1-2 offering.
It was ruled that Victorino got hit in the foot. Replays clearly show that the ball bounced in the dirt before hitting Victorino, though, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland wasn’t too pleased with the call. After a brief chat, Leyland returned to the dugout, and the Red Sox had a bases-loaded opportunity.
Dustin Pedroia had an excellent chance to give the Red Sox an early edge. His looping liner to right field hung up long enough for Hunter to make a play, though, and the Sox left the bases loaded.
End 2nd, 0-0: So far, so good for John Lackey.
Lackey continued his first trip through the Tigers’ order in the second inning, and he enjoyed his second straight 1-2-3 frame.
Prince Fielder, who never gets cheated on a swing, skied a high fly ball to center field, which — for those who don’t know — is about the size of a football field. (Yes, I’m exaggerating a little bit.) Jacoby Ellsbury sized it up off the bat, though, and he put it away for the first out.
Victor Martinez then grounded to former teammate Dustin Pedroia at second base for the second out.
Will Middlebrooks made another nice play down at third base to end the inning. This time, Middlebrooks went to the back hand on Jhonny Peralta’s ground ball before firing to first base to complete the out.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Mike Napoli’s one-out single was spoiled in the second inning.
David Ortiz struck out on three pitches to begin the inning. Jose Alvarez was very aggressive, going with back-to-back sliders before going with a fastball to record the K.
Napoli then dropped a single into center field, but it didn’t lead to much in the rally department. Jonny Gomes looked at two offspeed offerings before grounding a four-seam fastball to Omar Infante, who kicked off an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play.
End 1st, 0-0: John Lackey has his work cut out for him against a dynamic Tigers offense. It was smooth sailing in the first inning, though.
Lackey retired the Tigers in order, and he struck out two in the process, including the reigning AL MVP.
Lackey pounded the strike zone against leadoff man Austin Jackson. He ended up getting Jackson with a cutter.
Torii Hunter then hit a ball that Will Middlebrooks made a pretty difficult play on for the second out. It was chopped right down the third base line, and Middlebrooks fielded it on the run before delivering a strike to first.
Miguel Cabrera, considered by most to be the best hitter in baseball, struck out to end the inning. Lackey got him with a 94 mph fastball up and away.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Jacoby Ellsbury hasn’t hit a home run since April 7. He made a bid to snap that skid in the first inning.
Ellsbury sent Jose Alvarez’s second pitch to deep right field. It looked like it had a chance to get out, but Torii Hunter hauled it in while banging into the wall. It’s no secret that Comerica Park is a pitcher’s ballpark, and that fact was obvious on Ellsbury’s flyout to deep right.
Shane Victorino popped out to shortstop Jhonny Peralta for the second out, and Dustin Pedroia struck out looking to end the inning.
Pedroia fouled off a few offerings and saw seven pitches, but Alvarez went back to the fastball to punch out the All-Star second baseman.
7:08 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury takes a pitch outside for a ball, and we’re underway.
7:03 p.m.: The Red Sox, who are going up against rookie Jose Alvarez, have beat up on rookies this season.
Entering Thursday’s game, the Red Sox are 8-3 when the opposing starter is a rookie. Those 11 rookie starters have combined to go 1-7 with an 8.72 ERA (42 earned runs in 43 1/3 innings) against Boston. None have made it through six innings.
Your move, Jose.
6:51 p.m.: Tigers starter Jose Alvarez actually came up through the Red Sox organization after signing as an amateur free agent in 2005.
Alvarez spent a few years kicking around multiple levels of the Red Sox’ minor league system until 2009, when he was traded to the Marlins with Hunter Jones in exchange for Jeremy Hermida.
6:40 p.m.: Detroit is a difficult place to play for anyone. That’s simply the case when you’re talking about a good baseball team.
The Red Sox are among those who have had some issues in the Motor City recently. They were swept in their last visit to Detroit, and they’ve lost four straight overall in Detroit. In fact, the Sox haven’t won there since May 2011.
Thursday’s series opener marks the first of seven games between the two clubs this season. And while it’s been a struggle for the Red Sox at Comerica Park lately, they have played well against the Tigers overall in recent years.
The Red Sox are 24-12 against the Tigers since the start of 2008. That’s Boston’s best record against any American League club in that time — excluding the AL’s new arrival, the Astros, who the Red Sox swept a four-game series against earlier this season.
5:30 p.m.: Jarrod Saltalamacchia will finally get to take a load off.
Saltalamacchia, who played all 18 innings of Tuesday’s doubleheader and then started again on Wednesday, will get the night off as Ryan Lavarnway gets the start. Lavarnway was called up between Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday after David Ross was placed on the seven-day concussion list.
As the whole left side of the infield situation continues to unfold, it’ll be Will Middlebrooks and Jose Iglesias in the starting lineup on Thursday. They’ll play third base and shortstop, respectively.
Thursday’s complete lineups are below.
Red Sox (44-30)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jose Iglesias, SS
John Lackey, RHP (4-5, 3.08 ERA)
Austin Jackson, CF
Torii Hunter, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Matt Tuiasosopo, LF
Omar Infante, 2B
Brayan Pena, C
Jose Alvarez, LHP (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: Well, that was a weird homestand. After three games in two days, the Red Sox now head back out on the road to try to tame the Tigers.
Much of New England’s focus was on the Bruins on Wednesday night. It’s a good thing, because the Red Sox were unable to build on Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep in their series finale against the Rays. The Red Sox’ bats were held in check, and Ryan Dempster once again walked away the loser despite keeping Boston in the game. His record fell to 4-8, although the offense definitely shoulders a lot of the blame in many of his starts.
On Thursday, it’ll be John Lackey who looks to get Boston back on track. He’ll have his hands full, though, as the Tigers’ offense is explosive. Detroit enters Thursday’s series opener ranked among the league’s best in most offensive categories. The Tigers are first in batting average (.281), first in on-base percentage (.348), fourth in slugging percentage (.427) and fifth in runs (346).
Lackey will go up against Jose Alvarez as both teams try to flex their American League muscle. The action kicks off at 7:08 p.m. Tune in on NESN, and keep it right here for some additional commentary and analysis.
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