Final, Orioles 6-5: Jim Johnson shut the door in the ninth inning, and the Orioles win 6-5.
The loss doesn’t really impact the Red Sox. Boston locked up the AL’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs just before the game by virtue of Oakland losing to Seattle. But John Farrell certainly would have liked to have seen a better effort from his bullpen, especially since a few ALDS roster spots remain up for grabs.
The Red Sox snagged a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning when Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava delivered a pair of RBI singles, but the Orioles answered in the eighth inning.
Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia opened the bottom of the eighth with back-to-back base hits against Junichi Tazawa. The Red Sox then turned to Franklin Morales, who gave up a two-run double to Steve Pearce that catapulted the Orioles in front.
Mike Napoli singled with two outs in the ninth inning, and pinch-runner Quintin Berry moved up to second base via a stolen base. Jonny Gomes struck out looking, though, and the Orioles come away with their 84th win of the season.
Jon Lester went five innings and didn’t factor in the decision Saturday. He gave up four runs on nine hits while striking out four and walking two.
John Lackey will take the ball in the regular season finale Sunday. He’ll face Chris Tillman, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:35 p.m.
Good night, everyone.
End 8th, Orioles 6-5: The Red Sox now need some ninth-inning magic just to stay alive in this game.
Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia started the bottom of the eighth inning with a pair of singles off Junichi Tazawa. Steve Pearce then plated two runs with a double off Franklin Morales.
Brandon Workman made sure that the Red Sox’ deficit stayed at one by retiring Ryan Flaherty and Brian Roberts with Pearce on third base. Flaherty struck out and Roberts flied out.
Orioles closer Jim Johnson will now look to pick up his 49th save of the season. Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli are due up for the Red Sox in the ninth.
10:11 p.m., Orioles 6-5: Franklin Morales couldn’t get out of it.
Nick Markakis’ bid for a three-run homer landed just foul down the left field line, and Morales ended up striking him out. Steve Pearce won his battle against the left-hander, though.
Pearce ripped a line drive into the left field corner. It sailed just over the head of a leaping Will Middlebrooks, and easily scored Nate McLouth — who pinch ran for Matt Wieters — from second base. Danny Valencia hustled his way around from first base and slid in safely just ahead of the throw.
Pearce took third base on the throw to the plate. The Red Sox will now turn to Brandon Workman with one out and the Orioles suddenly leading by a run.
10:02 p.m., Red Sox 5-4: Junichi Tazawa was very sharp in the seventh inning. The same can’t be said for him in the eighth inning.
Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia hit back-to-back singles off Tazawa to open the bottom of the eighth. John Farrell will now turn to Franklin Morales with the Red Sox in a jam.
This is a big opportunity for Morales. The left-hander isn’t a lock for the ALDS roster right now, but he could punch his ticket with a good effort in this high-leverage situation.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-4: Kevin Gausman, who recorded the final out of the seventh inning, tossed a perfect eighth.
David Ross struck out swinging for the first out. Gausman is able to dial it up to the high 90s, but the 22-year-old kept Ross off balance during the catcher’s eighth-inning at-bat.
Will Middlebrooks flied out to left field, and Shane Victorino popped out to second base.
It looks like Junichi Tazawa, who needed just eight pitches to get through the seventh inning, will begin the eighth for Boston.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-4: Junichi Tazawa enjoyed a quick and painless seventh inning.
Tazawa took care of J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Adam Jones. Hardy flied out, Davis grounded out and Tazawa struck out.
Tazawa put Jones away with a nasty split out of the zone.
It was an encouraging inning for Tazawa, who will continue to be an extremely important piece in the Red Sox’ bullpen during the playoffs.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-4: Kevin Gausman ended the Red Sox’ rally by striking out Mike Carp. Boston pushed across two runs, though, and the Sox now have their first lead of the night.
Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava each collected an RBI single in the seventh inning. Nava is now 4-for-4 with four singles and a run scored.
Junichi Tazawa will be the new Red Sox pitcher in the seventh. Carp will stay in the game at first base.
9:34 p.m., Red Sox 5-4: Brian Matusz gave up a single to the only batter he faced.
Matusz entered after the Red Sox struck three singles against Josh Stinson to open the seventh inning. Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes each delivered a base hit. Gomes’ knock plated Drew with one out and sent Stinson to the showers.
Daniel Nava greeted Matusz with a base hit into left field. Jason Pridie bobbled the ball momentarily, and Pedroia, who initially stopped around third base, continued on home. Gomes was thrown out trying to take third base.
Kevin Gausman will now enter with two outs and a runner at first base. Mike Carp will pinch hit for Brandon Snyder.
9:30 p.m., 4-4: Josh Stinson didn’t enjoy the same success in the seventh inning.
Stinson surrendered three singles while recording just one out, and the Red Sox have tied the game at four apiece.
Brian Matusz will take over with runners at first and second. His first opponent is Daniel Nava, who is 3-for-3.
End 6th, Orioles 4-3: Matt Thornton took over in the sixth inning. He enjoyed a 1-2-3 inning, which is important because the left-hander is battling for an ALDS roster spot.
Steve Pearce popped out, Jason Pridie struck out and Brian Roberts grounded out.
Thornton should have had Pridie put away on a nice-looking 0-2 fastball down, but home plate umpire Bill Welke ruled that it was low. Thornton ultimately put away Pridie with a similar fastball two pitches later.
Overall, it was a nice inning for the left-hander.
Mid 6th, Orioles 4-3: Josh Stinson did a nice job of keeping the Orioles’ lead intact.
Stinson entered with a runner at second base and one out. He retired Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino.
Middlebrooks struck out swinging, and Victorino hit a roller to first base that Chris Davis gobbled up and flipped to the pitcher.
Victorino actually batted left-handed against Stinson, which is surprising. Victorino has been batting strictly right-handed for a while now, but he made the switch against the right-hander in the sixth inning.
9:08 p.m., Orioles 4-3: Want to predict what is going to happen next? The MLB PrePlay app allows you to predict every play of every game. By correctly selecting the outcome of every at-bat in real time, you’re able to earn points.
9:06 p.m., Orioles 4-3: The Red Sox’ offense went right to work in the sixth inning.
Daniel Nava led off with a single into left field. Nava is now 3-for-3.
Wei-Yin Chen rebounded to strike out Brandon Snyder, but David Ross, who drove in Boston’s first run, knocked in Nava with a double into the left field corner.
Josh Stinson will now replace Chen with one out in the sixth inning and the potential tying run at second base.
End 5th, Orioles 4-2: Jon Lester will want to shake this one off before taking the ball in the playoffs.
The Orioles struck for two runs in the fifth inning, and Baltimore has now posted four runs on nine hits against the Red Sox lefty.
The O’s used four singles to grab their two fifth-inning runs. J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones sandwiched Chris Davis’ strikeout with a pair of base hits to get things going.
Matt Wieters hooked a single into left field to plate Hardy with Baltimore’s third run as Jones took third base. Danny Valencia then gave the O’s their fourth run with a single that just sailed over the outstretched glove of a leaping Stephen Drew.
Drew actually made a very nice play to end the fifth inning. Nick Markakis hit a bouncer up the middle. Drew grabbed it, stepped on second base and fired an off-balance throw to first base to make sure Baltimore didn’t do any more damage.
That might be the night for Lester. He has thrown 97 pitches, and the Red Sox aren’t playing for much at this point.
Mid 5th, 2-2: The Red Sox have knotted things up.
Stephen Drew made a bid for his 14th home run of the season with one out in the fifth inning. The ball instead scraped the right field wall, and Drew picked up his 29th double of 2013.
Dustin Pedroia brought Drew around from second base with a single into center field. Adam Jones came up firing, but his throw was off the mark and Drew swiped home plate with his hand to give Boston its second run.
Mike Napoli struck out looking on a pitch down in the zone, and Jonny Gomes flied out to center field.
End 4th, Orioles 2-1: It’s been a grind for Jon Lester thus far.
Lester has thrown 80 pitches through four innings, although the Orioles have mustered up just two runs.
Lester worked a scoreless fourth inning. He yielded a leadoff single to Nick Markakis, but bounced back to ensure that the O’s didn’t build off it.
Steve Pearce and Jason Pridie flied out for the first two outs, and Brian Roberts grounded to short for an inning-ending forceout.
Mid 4th, Orioles 2-1: The Red Sox cut the deficit in half on a blooper into right field.
Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava reached via back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth inning. Wei-Yin Chen nearly escaped without any damage, but he couldn’t finish off David Ross after striking out Brandon Snyder.
Ross fell behind, 0-2. He then fouled off a pitch and laid off a curveball in the dirt before lifting a little blooper down the right field line. Chris Davis, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis all gave chase, but it dropped in the middle of the three. Gomes scored with Boston’s first run on the play, which looked like trouble as soon as Ross hit it.
Chen retired Will Middlebrooks on a flyout to center field to strand Nava at third base, but the Red Sox are heading in the right direction.
End 3rd, Orioles 2-0: Brian Roberts followed up his busy defensive inning with a home run in the bottom of the frame.
Roberts jumped on Jon Lester’s first pitch of the third inning and sent it down the left field line. It nearly hooked foul, but the ball landed just inside the foul poll for Roberts’ eighth home run of the season.
Lester also issued a pair of walks in the third inning. Chris Davis walked with one out and Matt Wieters walked with two down.
Lester escaped the inning by getting Danny Valencia to fly out to Shane Victorino in center field.
Mid 3rd, Orioles 1-0: Brian Roberts was a busy man in the third inning.
Roberts recorded two assists and a putout as Wei-Yin Chen put together a 1-2-3 inning.
Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew both grounded to Roberts, and Dustin Pedroia popped out to the Orioles second baseman.
End 2nd, Orioles 1-0: The O’s have jumped ahead.
Jon Lester ran into some two-out trouble in the second inning after retiring Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia to begin the frame.
Wieters was retired on a tremendous play by Will Middlebrooks. Wieters hit a chopper down the third base line, and Middlebrooks fielded it while ranging into foul territory. Middlebrooks then tossed an off-balance throw across the diamond that Brandon Snyder picked to complete the out.
Nick Markakis reached with a two-out single, and Steve Pearce did his job on a perfectly executed hit-and-run. Pearce caught the right field wall with a fly ball, and Markakis motored all the way around from first base. Pearce ended up with a double.
Jon Lester struck out Jason Pridie to end the inning, but Baltimore has struck first.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Daniel Nava led off the second inning with a single. Wei-Yin Chen rebounded for three straight outs.
Brandon Snyder flied out, David Ross struck out and Will Middlebrooks grounded out.
Ross went down swinging on a pitch up and out of the zone.
End 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester tossed a scoreless first inning despite yielding a hit.
Brian Roberts popped out to Brandon Snyder at first base for the first out. Snyder is getting the nod at first, with Mike Napoli serving as the DH and David Ortiz getting the night off.
J.J. Hardy then singled through the left side. Will Middlebrooks lunged at it, but the ball traveled into left field for a one-out knock.
Chris Davis popped out to the left side for the second out. Davis shattered his bat, and Stephen Drew tracked down the little flair near third base.
Adam Jones put up a nine-pitch battle against Lester with two outs, but the left-hander eventually emerged victorious by way of a strikeout. Lester got Jones to wave at a sinker.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox have officially clinched the AL’s top seed, but there’s still baseball to be played before the playoffs.
Wei-Yin Chen got two quick outs to open up the first inning. Shane Victorino struck out swinging, and Stephen Drew grounded to second base.
Victorino was fed four straight fastballs before Chen pulled the string with a 2-2 curveball. Victorino was caught out on his front foot.
Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli lengthened the inning by way of a single into left-center field and a nine-pitch walk, respectively.
Jonny Gomes popped out to Brian Roberts at second base to end the inning.
7:12 p.m.: The Red Sox have officially clinched the American League’s top seed by virtue of the Athletics losing to the Mariners.
The Red Sox will open up their playoff schedule against the wild card winner at Fenway Park next Friday. Boston now has home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
7:07 p.m.: Wei-Yin Chen’s first pitch misses for a ball. We’re underway.
7:01 p.m.: The A’s are down to their final three outs in Seattle, as the Mariners lead 7-5. If the Mariners hold on, the Red Sox will secure the American League’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
6:57 p.m.: The Indians defeated the Twins 5-1.
Cleveland was the lone winner among the three teams vying for the AL wild card. Texas and Tampa Bay both lost. That means that the Tribe hold a one-game lead over the Rangers and Rays going into the final day of the regular season.
5:01 p.m.: Things just keep getting more interesting in the AL wild card race.
The Rays lost to the Blue Jays, and the Rangers defeated the Angels. Tampa Bay and Texas are now tied in the standings, while Cleveland is in the midst of its game against Minnesota. If the Indians win, they’ll hold a one-game lead over both the Rays and Rangers. If the Indians lose, we’ll enter the final day of the regular season with a three-way tie.
4:45 p.m.: Shane Victorino sat out Friday’s game, although John Farrell said that the outfielder wanted to play. Victorino, who has been dealing with a thumb issue, will be back in Saturday’s lineup, though.
Jacoby Ellsbury, on the other hand, will not be in the starting lineup. Ellsbury returned from a foot injury Wednesday, and has played two shortened games since returning, but he’ll get the night off Saturday.
David Ortiz will also be given a night off. Mike Napoli will serve as the designated hitter, and Brandon Snyder will play first base.
Saturday’s complete lineups are below.
Red Sox (97-63)
Shane Victorino, CF
Stephen Drew, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, DH
Jonny Gomes, LF
Daniel Nava, RF
Brandon Snyder, 1B
David Ross, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jon Lester, LHP (15-8, 3.67 ERA)
Brian Roberts, 2B
J.J. Hardy, SS
Chris Davis, 1B
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C
Danny Valencia, 3B
Nick Markakis, RF
Steve Pearce, DH
Jason Pridie, LF
Wei-Yin Chen, LHP (7-7, 4.03 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox took another step toward securing the American League’s top seed Friday.
The Red Sox downed the Orioles 12-3 behind another strong offensive effort. Daniel Nava, David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes went deep as Boston racked up 16 hits and trimmed its magic number to clinch the No. 1 seed to one. In other words, the Red Sox can clinch the best record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win or an Athletics loss.
Jon Lester will take the ball Saturday in the hopes of locking up the top seed. He earned the win in the Red Sox’ division-clinching victory, so a big performance out of him would only make sense, right? Lester has been sharp of late, too. The left-hander has gone at least seven innings in each of his last four starts, and he has nine straight quality starts dating back to Aug. 8.
Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tune in on NESN, and keep it right here throughout the day.