Red Sox-Rays Live: Jon Lester Shines, Sox’ Offense Rakes As Boston Rolls to 12-2 Win in Game 1 of ALDS

Jon LesterFinal, Red Sox 12-2: Ryan Dempster recorded the final three outs to put the finishing touches on a blowout.

The Red Sox’ offense banged out 14 hits, and Jon Lester lasted into the eighth inning as Boston rolled to a 12-2 win in Game 1 of the ALDS.

The Sox scored 12 unanswered runs after the Rays jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind solo homers from Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist. Lester settled in nicely, and before long, there wasn’t much doubt that Boston was on its way to a series-opening win.

Matt Moore held the Red Sox hitless through the first three innings, but Boston struck for five runs on six hits in the fourth inning. The madness really kicked into high gear when Wil Myers failed to make a play on the warning track in right field in that fourth inning.

Lester gave up just three hits and exited to a standing ovation in the eighth inning. It was a fantastic performance for the left-hander, who showed exactly why he was given the responsibility of pitching Game 1.

John Lackey and David Price will square off in Game 2, which takes place Saturday at 5:37 p.m.

Good night, everyone.

End 8th, Red Sox 12-2: The Red Sox’ offense wasn’t done yet.

Boston added four more runs in the eighth inning, and Ryan Dempster will enter with a 10-run cushion.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the eighth with a bloop single into left field. Ellsbury, showing no ill effects of the foot fracture that sidelined him in September, swiped second base to move up into scoring position. It was Ellsbury’s sixth career playoff steal — first this postseason.

Shane Victorino knocked in Ellsbury with a single into left field. Victorino has three hits and a couple of RBIs in this game.

David Ortiz and Mike Napoli then worked back-to-back walks that resulted in Boston’s 10th run of the contest.

Jamey Wright finally recorded an out when Jonny Gomes grounded into a double play, but the Red Sox scored their 11th run in the process.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia decided to tack on one more for good measure with two outs. He ripped a single into right field that plated Ortiz.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 8-2: Junichi Tazawa got Wil Myers to fly out to end the inning, and the book is officially closed on Jon Lester’s first ever Game 1 home start.

Lester went 7 2/3 innings for Boston. He gave up two runs on three hits and three walks. Lester struck out seven and threw 114 pitches (71 strikes).

The Rays’ only offense against Lester came on a pair of solo homers. Sean Rodriguez hit the first dinger in the second inning, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 with a blast in the fourth inning.

The Red Sox’ offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth, and Lester really cruised from that point on. The veteran southpaw tipped his cap while walking back to the dugout in the eighth inning.

6:12 p.m., Red Sox 8-2: Jon Lester walked off the mound to a standing ovation. The left-hander gave the Red Sox an ace-like performance.

Lester walked two hitters in the eighth, and John Farrell will turn to Junichi Tazawa with two outs.

The book isn’t closed on Lester just yet, but it’s hard to complain about the results if you’re the Red Sox.

End 7th, Red Sox 8-2: Alex Torres enjoyed a quick inning in the seventh.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks couldn’t get anything going against Torres, who took over after 1 1/3 innings from Chris Archer.

Saltalamacchia and Drew both struck out swinging on a pair of 94 mph fastballs.

Jon Lester, who has thrown 94 pitches thus far, will come back out for the eighth inning.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 8-2: Jon Lester has pitched very well.

Lester has given up just three hits in seven innings of work. Unfortunately for him, two of them left the yard. Beyond the two homers, though, Lester has shut down the Rays’ offensive attack.

Lester twirled another 1-2-3 inning in the seventh. Delmon Young, Sean Rodriguez and Yunel Escobar went down in order.

Lester has thrown 94 pitches (60 strikes) thus far. He has racked up six strikeouts.

End 6th, Red Sox 8-2: Chris Archer settled things down in the sixth inning.

Archer kept the Red Sox off the scoreboard for the first time since the third inning. Boston scored five runs in the fourth inning, and added three more in the fifth inning.

David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes went down in order in the sixth. Ortiz and Napoli both put the ball on the ground, and Gomes struck out swinging.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 8-2: Wil Myers’ miscue in the fourth inning opened the floodgates for Boston. So, the Fenway Faithful welcomed him appropriately when he batted in the fifth inning.

The Boston crowd gave Myers a loud ovation when he dug in with one out in the fifth. Myers flied out to center field.

Jon Lester finished the perfect inning by retiring Evan Longoria on a ground ball to second base.

Chris Archer, who recorded the final out of the fifth inning for Tampa, will come back out for another inning in the sixth.

The book is officially closed on starter Matt Moore. Moore gave up eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four, walked two and threw 106 pitches (67 strikes).

Moore held the Red Sox hitless through the first three innings, but Boston’s offense broke out in a big way in the fourth.

End 5th, Red Sox 8-2: The Red Sox added one more run in the fifth inning after knocking Matt Moore from the game.

Wesley Wright struck out Stephen Drew before intentionally walking Will Middlebrooks. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a line drive back up the middle that kicked off Wright’s glove and into center field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia scored Boston’s eighth run of the contest.

Joe Maddon turned to the bullpen again after Ellsbury’s single. Chris Archer entered, and was greeted by an infield single from Shane Victorino.

Victorino’s knock, which came on a slow grounder to short, loaded the bases. Archer escaped the inning without any further damage, though, as Dustin Pedroia struck out with the bags packed.

5:13 p.m., Red Sox 7-2: Things looked so promising for Matt Moore. It all spiraled out of control in a hurry.

The Red Sox’ offense picked up right where it left off in the fifth inning.

Mike Napoli smacked a one-out double. It was a close play at second base, but Napoli sneaked in his hand on a head-first dive.

Jonny Gomes was then intentionally walked to put runners at first and second for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Salty hammered a two-run double off the left field wall, and Joe Maddon will now turn to his bullpen. Wesley Wright is the new Tampa pitcher with one out in the fifth inning.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-2: Jon Lester did exactly what he needed to do in the fifth inning.

Lester shut down the Rays’ offense, giving the Red Sox’ offense a chance to go right back to work after a big fourth inning.

James Loney, Jose Lobaton and Desmond Jennings were retired in order in the fifth.

Loney smoked a ground ball to second base that took a tough hop. Dustin Pedroia had no trouble handling it, although it was a very difficult play.

Lobaton flied to center field for the second out, and Lester capped off the inning by striking out Jennings with a cutter.

Lester has thrown 72 pitches (44 strikes) through five innings of work.

End 4th, Red Sox 5-2: John Farrell said Thursday that he expected there to be some game-changing defensive plays in this series. This probably wasn’t what he meant, but the Red Sox will certainly take it.

Dustin Pedroia singled into center field to lead off the fourth inning. It was Boston’s first hit of the contest.

David Ortiz then put a charge into one, sending it toward the wall in right field. Initially, it looked like it had a chance to leave the yard. But then, it appeared that Wil Myers had it sized up. Given that information, it was very strange to see the ball land on the warning track and bounce into the Red Sox’ bullpen.

Either Myers was called off by center fielder Desmond Jennings or he simply lost it. In any event, he gave way and let the ball bounce for a ground-rule double. Pedroia took third base on the strange play, which drew chants of, “My-ers! My-ers!”

That proved to be huge, as Jonny Gomes — never shying away from the big moment — made an impact with his bat and on the bases.

Gomes launched a high fly ball to left field that smacked off the Green Monster for a two-run double to tie the game. Gomes then made a major hustle play on the basepaths when Stephen Drew hit a chopper to first base. James Loney had to hurry to flip to Matt Moore, who was covering the bag, and Drew reached safely. All the while, Gomes was going full speed, and he ended up scoring from second base on the infield single.

Will Middlebrooks took aim at the Monster himself with two outs. The ball took a hard bounce, and scooted past left fielder Sean Rodriguez and back toward the infield. Drew came all the way around with Boston’s fourth run as Middlebrooks cruised into second with a double.

Jacoby Ellsbury then struck out. The only problem was that the ball got away from catcher Jose Lobaton. Ellsbury reached safely at first base, and Middlebrooks advanced to third base. Middlebrooks was knocked in by Shane Victorino, who slapped a single into right field.

Moore hadn’t given up a hit until the fourth inning. In the fourth, the Red Sox struck for five runs on six hits. The effort was certainly aided by Myers’ miscue, and credit the Red Sox’ offense for being relentless.

It’s now important for Jon Lester to come back with a shutdown inning.

Mid 4th, Rays 2-0: The Rays left the yard again in the fourth inning.

Jon Lester fell behind Ben Zobrist, 3-0, to begin the fourth. The left-hander started to battle back, but Zobrist took advantage of Lester missing his spot with a 3-1 pitch.

Zobrist deposited a solo homer into the Monster seats. He yanked it right down the left field line.

Lester walked Evan Longoria and surrendered a single to Delmon Young in the fourth inning as well, but, to his credit, he rebounded to retire Sean Rodriguez and Yunel Escobar.

The Rays now have two home runs in this game, as Rodriguez also drilled a solo homer back in the second inning.

End 3rd, Rays 1-0: The Red Sox are still looking for their first hit.

Boston had a baserunner in both the first and second inning, but one came via a hit batsman and the other was the result of a two-out walk.

Matt Moore didn’t put anyone on in the third inning. He took care of Will Middlebrooks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino in order.

Middlebrooks flied out to Wil Myers, and Ellsbury grounded to first base. James Loney got a little dirty while taking care of Ellsbury’s grounder, and he flipped to Moore for the out.

Shane Victorino, who was the guy plunked in the first inning, struck out swinging to end the third inning. Moore put him away with a big, looping curveball.

Mid 3rd, Rays 1-0: Jon Lester shook off Sean Rodriguez’s second-inning homer for a clean third inning.

James Loney, Jose Lobaton and Desmond Jennings went down in order against Lester, who had been rolling along until Rodriguez’s two-out blast in the second.

Loney grounded to second base to open up the third inning. Dustin Pedroia cut across the diamond to field the chopper on the back hand.

Lobaton and Jennings then put the ball in the air for a pair of flyouts.

End 2nd, Rays 1-0: The Red Sox had another runner in scoring position in the second inning, and it ended the same way the first inning ended.

Matt Moore got two quick outs in the second. Mike Napoli struck out swinging, and Jonny Gomes lined out to left field.

Sean Rodriguez, who is responsible for Tampa Bay’s one-run lead, laid out to grab Gomes’ line drive to left. It was a nice play, but it looked like Rodriguez had it sized up all along.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia got something going with a two-out walk. He moved up into scoring position on a wild pitch with Stephen Drew batting.

Drew ended up hitting a ground ball to short, where Yunel Escobar fielded it on the backhand before delivering a strong throw to first base to end the inning.

Mid 2nd, Rays 1-0: Jon Lester came out guns blazing again in the second inning. He fell one strike short of another perfect inning, though.

Lester struck out the always dangerous Evan Longoria on four pitches to open up the frame.

Delmon Young — who isn’t that good, yet has a weird tendency to come through in the postseason — finally made some contact against Lester. He hit a soft line drive toward center field that Dustin Pedroia grabbed a step out onto the grass.

Lester then faced Sean Rodriguez, and almost put him away with a 2-2 changeup down in the zone. Home plate umpire Chris Guccione called it low, though, and Rodriguez drilled a home run into the Monster seats on the very next pitch. Lester missed out over the heart of the plate with his 3-2 fastball.

Will Middlebrooks made a nice diving stop to end the inning, but the Rays have struck first.

End 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox put a runner into scoring position in the first inning, but failed to jump ahead.

Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to Yunel Escobar for the first out of the inning before Matt Moore plunked Shane Victorino on the foot. Victorino, of course, is no stranger to getting drilled with baseballs this season.

Dustin Pedroia followed with a pretty good battle against the Rays lefty. He fouled off a couple of pitches, including one that was just foul down the left field line. A foot to the right, and Pedroia would have been looking at extra bases. Instead, he flied out to center field to cap the at-bat.

David Ortiz dug in with two outs, and Moore immediately jumped ahead in the count, 0-2. Victorino moved up via a stolen base, but Ortiz ended up grounding out to the left side. Escobar made the play where Evan Longoria is typically stationed — a result of the shift.

Jon Lester now heads to the mound with three strikeouts already in his back pocket.

Mid 1st, 0-0: What a start.

Jon Lester struck out the side in the first inning while dialing it up to 97 mph on the radar gun.

Lester first struck out Desmond Jennings. He did so on four pitches, with the final strike clocking in at 96 mph on the gun.

Lester then took care of Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers. Neither hitter stood much of a chance.

Lester looks jacked up early on. Let’s see what Matt Moore has planned for his first trip to the bump.

3:10 p.m.: Jon Lester delivers a first-pitch strike, and we’re finally underway. Playoff baseball has returned to Fenway Park.

3:01 p.m.: We’re almost ready for baseball after an emotional pregame ceremony.

Boston Marathon runners, law enforcement officers and other local heroes from April’s tragedy lined the infield alongside the two teams.

2:44 p.m.: You’re all probably up to speed by now on how the Red Sox and Rays stack up. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this series should be a dogfight.

While the Red Sox enter the series on the heels of finishing the regular season tied for the best record in the majors, the Rays are going to be a difficult team to eliminate.

The Rays’ starting pitching is strong, and left-handers Matt Moore and David Price should pose a tough matchup for Boston in Games 1 and 2. The southpaw duo shut down the Red Sox earlier this season.

On Thursday, I took a look at how these two teams match up. You’re more than welcome to check out the breakdown at the link below. No pressure, though.

Click here for a Red Sox-Rays ALDS breakdown >>

2:29 p.m.: The skies have cleared. The tarp has been removed. And we will start on time, at 3:07 p.m.

1:56 p.m.: FYI, Matt Thornton, Ryan Lavarnway and John McDonald will all dress during the ALDS despite not having roster spots.

1:03 p.m.: The tarp is on the field at Fenway Park, and batting practice has been cancelled for both teams.

I’m no meteorologist, but from what I’ve read on the tweet machine, we should be good to go, although there is a chance of showers.

1:01 p.m.: David Price, who will face John Lackey in Game 2, addressed the media Friday.

Price discussed his bike ride around Boston, among other things. When asked about the Red Sox, the left-hander admitted that the Sox are one of his favorite teams to watch.

Well, if the Rays head home after the ALDS, he’ll at least have that going for him.

12:56 p.m.: The lineup cards have been posted. The Red Sox’ lineup is pretty much what we’re accustomed to seeing from the club versus left-handers.

See them below.

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Stephen Drew, SS
Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Jon Lester, LHP (15-8, 3.75 ERA)

Rays
Desmond Jennings, CF
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Wil Myers, RF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Delmon Young, DH
Sean Rodriguez, LF
Yunel Escobar, SS
James Loney, 1B
Jose Lobaton, C

Matt Moore, LHP (17-4, 3.29 ERA)

12:48 p.m.: John Lackey, who will start Game 2, spoke with the media before Friday’s Game 1.

Lackey was asked about his home/road splits, and the right-hander didn’t have an explanation for why he’s been better at Fenway Park this season. In fact, he thinks that it should be the other way around given how difficult it often is to pitch at Fenway.

Lackey also said that he doesn’t plan to keep his emotions in check — a stark contrast from what most players would say. The 34-year-old said that he’ll absolutely be fired up Saturday, and that the emotion is part of why he’s still pitching.

12:40 p.m.: John Farrell said that the decision to carry Felix Doubront ultimately came down to the left-hander’s ability to go multiple innings.

“His ability to pitch multiple innings for us, if we get into a situation where there’s a rain stoppage, extra innings,” Farrell said of Doubront. “Also recognizing the year of contribution that he made for us. It came down basically to the ability to go long.”

Farrell also noted that having Doubront gives flexibility to how Ryan Dempster is used throughout the series.

11:35 a.m.: Enough with the speculation. The Red Sox’ 25th and final roster spot belongs to Felix Doubront.

Doubront was on the bubble alongside the likes of Matt Thornton and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Outfielder Quintin Berry also made the cut.

10 a.m.: The Red Sox will be wearing their red jerseys for Game 1. So if you’re a Red Sox fan heading over to the game, be sure to break out your red gear to help create a sea of red in the Fenway stands.

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox have spent the last four days trying to stay sharp before opening up the ALDS. Now, it’s finally the day of Game 1.

The Red Sox and Rays will open up a best-of-five ALDS matchup Friday in Boston. Friday’s Game 1 will mark the first postseason contest at Fenway Park since 2009, as there have been more painful memories over the last three years than good memories.

This season has been much different in Boston, though. The Red Sox enter the series on the heels of a regular season in which they went 97-65. Boston tied St. Louis for the best record in the majors, and will have home-field advantage throughout the postseason by virtue of owning the American League’s No. 1 seed.

Things won’t be easy for the Sox, as the Rays pose a very tough matchup. Boston went 12-7 against its division rival this season, but six of the Red Sox’ wins came in the ninth inning or later, including three walk-off victories at Fenway Park. The two teams are evenly matched and have seen each other 19 times already in 2013, so there’s certainly a lot of familiarity between the two sides.

It’s been an interesting week for both teams, but for much different reasons. The Rays needed to win two elimination games just to advance to the ALDS, while the Red Sox held three days of workouts at Fenway Park. The Red Sox’ preparation included an intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday that was open to the public. The Rays defeated the Rangers in Texas on Monday, and then toppled Terry Francona’s Indians in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Now, the world-traveling Rays arrive in Boston. The first man Tampa Bay will face is Jon Lester, who came on strong down the stretch after a rough patch in the middle of the year. The Rays will counter with left-hander Matt Moore, who went 2-0 against the Red Sox this season.

Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 3:07 p.m., so make sure you “have a doctor appointment,” “don’t feel well,” or “have to pick up your kids” at some point before then. Work isn’t an option for a game as big as this.

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