After coming home to Boston on a five-game losing streak, the Red Sox have turned things around in a hurry.
The Sox beat the Orioles for the second straight game on Saturday
night, riding an early rally and a strong pitching performance to
victory in the middle game of the three-game set. David Ortiz put the
Red Sox on top for good with a three-run homer in the first, and Jon
Lester was solid on the mound, striking out nine Orioles and walking
just two in 7.1 innings on the hill.
Newcomer Adam LaRoche endeared himself to the Boston faithul in a hurry
by hitting his first home run in a Red Sox uniform, a two-run blast in
the eighth inning. Jacoby Ellsbury was a star at the plate as well,
hitting a pair of RBI doubles to bolster the Sox' offense.
Jeremy Guthrie took the loss for the Orioles, continuing a frustrating
season for the one-time ace of the Baltimore staff. Guthrie's ERA now
sits at 5.21 after another troublesome outing.
Final: Red Sox 7, Orioles 2.
Francona gives the closer a rest with a five-run lead, opting for Ramon Ramirez to pitch the ninth inning rather than Jonathan Papelbon.
runs into a little bit of trouble, as both Wieters and Markakis manage
singles to keep the Orioles alive, but the threat ends when Adam Jones
flies out to J.D. Drew in shallow right field. Ballgame over —
back-to-back wins in Boston.
End 8th, 7-2 Sox: Nothing like a standing ovation in your first game in Boston.
Adam LaRoche hits one deep to left field on the first pitch he sees from Mark Hendrickson — it gets over the Monster for LaRoche's first home run in a Red Sox uniform (it's his 13th of the season overall). Mike Lowell, who led off the inning with a single to right, scores as well, making it 7-2.
Also worthy of note: Lowell has still hit safely in every game he's played since coming off the DL, making for a six-game hitting streak. Given the state of the Red Sox' bats, they'll surely take any streak they can get.
Middle 8th, 5-2 Sox: Like Trembley, Terry Francona tries to
stick with his starter, but after Lester gives up a one-out double off
the Monster to Nolan Reimold, Tito decides he's seen enough.
Francona goes to Bard to finish off the eighth; Bard does so by retiring Ty Wigginton and Melvin Mora.
The Red Sox entered this series on a five-game losing streak; they're now three outs away from back-to-back wins. Not too shabby.
End 7th, 5-2 Sox: Trembley tries to let Guthrie finish the
seventh himself, but after Guthrie allows a first-pitch single to Drew
and then blows an 0-2 count by walking Jason Bay with two outs, he's
forced to pull his starter. Trembley goes to the bullpen for the Lanky
Lefty (that would be Mark Hendrickson), who steps up to face
Big Papi with no fear. Hendrickson strikes out Ortiz looking, and the
Orioles sneak out of the seventh unscathed.
Middle 7th, 5-2 Sox: Brian Roberts threatens for the Orioles
with a one-out double, but Lester recovers to strike out Nick Markakis
(that's nine!) and get Jones to ground out to short.
Daniel Bard is warming in the Boston bullpen; you have to wonder how much Lester has left in him after an even 100 pitches.
End 6th, 5-2 Sox: To Guthrie's credit, he does manage to make it
through six innings tonight, getting out of the sixth easily with a
three-up, three down effort against the bottom of the Red Sox' order.
Ninety-three pitches for the Baltimore right-hander — if you ignore
the first two innings, it's a fine night for Guthrie.
Middle 6th, 5-2 Sox: Six pitches is enough to retire the Orioles
in the sixth. One to Reimold (flyout), two to Wigginton (single), one
to Mora (flyout) and two to Wieters (flyout). That was easy.
End 5th, 5-2 Sox: Guthrie appears headed for a quick fifth inning at first, but the Sox then threaten a two-out rally. Jason Bay doubles
off the Monster and Papi takes a free pass, but Mike Lowell squanders
his chance to break the inning open, flying out to right on a 2-2
pitch. On to the sixth.
Middle 5th, 5-2 Sox: Lester has now logged a downright filthy
eight strikeouts in five innings, including Adam Jones for the third
time as he makes it a 1-2-3 fifth. Lester's thrown 82 pitches through
five, 57 of them strikes — his command has been impressive tonight.
End 4th, 5-2 Sox: Guthrie runs into a bit of trouble facing the
Sox' 7-8-9 hitters. He starts off with two easy outs, but Nick Green
reaches on a first-pitch bunt single, and Jacoby Ellsbury then launches
one into the corner in right for a double. Green hustles home and
scores for the Sox' fifth run; that brings up Dustin Pedroia with a
chance to make it a big inning, but Guthrie nails Ellsbury with a
pickoff at second to end the mini-two-out rally.
Middle 4th, 4-2 Sox: The O's get a couple back in the fourth.
Matt Wieters brings home the first run, going opposite field for a base
hit to right-center with two on and two out. J.D. Drew's throw home is
way off the mark, so Nolan Reimold scores and the two Baltimore runners
advance to second and third. That brings up Cesar Izturis, who reaches in an infield single to plate Ty Wigginton with the O's second run. The Sox' lead has been cut in half.
End 3rd, 4-0 Sox: Despite a two-out beanball to David Ortiz, you
could call it a relatively smooth bottom of the third for Jeremy
Guthrie. Guthrie starts the inning with two groundouts and ends it by
getting Mike Lowell to line out to right field — it's the game's first scoreless inning for the Red Sox.
Middle 3rd, 4-0 Sox: Brian Roberts becomes the first Oriole to
get the ball out of the infield against Lester, pulling one to left for
a one-out double, but Lester strikes out the next two guys, Nick Markakis looking and Adam Jones swinging. Three innings, six strikeouts for Jon Lester.
End 2nd, 4-0 Sox: The Adam LaRoche era in Boston begins with a groundout to third base, but the Sox get a run anyway. Jason Varitek goes deep to right for a ground-rule double with one out, and Jacoby Ellsbury later follows with a shot to deep center for a double of his own, scoring Varitek. It's now 4-0 Boston.
Middle 2nd, 3-0 Sox: The Orioles get their first two baserunners — first Nolan Reimold walks with one out in the second, and then Melvin Mora reaches on an infield single — but Lester gets out of it. Matt Wieters strikes out looking with two on and two out; make it four K's for Lester.
7:35 p.m.: To add to the Rickey Henderson stories offered by Don and Gordon on the air tonight, here's an old classic:
Back in the early 1980s, the Oakland A?s front office was panicking because the team's accountants couldn't balance the checkbook. They were off by exactly $1 million. After an investigation, the club discovered the problem: They had given Rickey a $1 million signing bonus months earlier, and instead of cashing the check, he had framed it and hung it on his wall.
End 1st, 3-0 Sox: Big Papi gets off to a big start for the Red
Sox in the first. With two on and two out, Guthrie throws a fastball
right down the middle to David Ortiz, and Ortiz makes him pay
with a fly ball to dead center field for a three-run blast. It's
Guthrie's 23rd home run allowed this season, worst in the American
League — must be all those fastballs down the middle.
Middle 1st, 0-0: That's the Jon Lester we've all come to expect.
Lester strikes out two Orioles in the top of the first, starting with a
seven-pitch K of Brian Roberts and finishing with a four-pitch whiff of Adam Jones. The lefty's off to a great start.
5:45 p.m.: The big news this afternoon is that the newly acquired Adam LaRoche will be in the starting lineup — LaRoche will play first base, bat seventh and give Kevin Youkilis the evening off.
Terry Francona shuffles the batting order a little bit to fit LaRoche in, moving J.D. Drew up to third. He also gives Jed Lowrie the night off, starting Nick Green at shortstop.
Dave Trembley will give Ty Wigginton a start at first base tonight, moving Aubrey Huff in to DH and benching Luke Scott.
2:00 p.m.: After a tough road losing streak, the Red Sox rebounded with a win in
their first game back home, beating the Orioles 3-1 behind a strong
start from Brad Penny. They'll try to keep that winning going with Saturday's contest, the middle game of a three-game weekend set.
Jon Lester gets the ball this time around, eager to bounce back from his tough-luck loss against the Blue Jays last week. Lester has been one of the AL's best pitchers the past couple of months, and he has a career record of dominance against these Orioles.
For the O's, it'll be Jeremy Guthrie, an ace of past Baltimore teams, on the mound Saturday night. Guthrie has been a mainstay of the team's rotation the past few years, but he's battling through a difficult down season and will be hard-pressed to find his groove against the slugging Red Sox.
The Red Sox are now 7-1 against the Orioles this season following Friday's win. They've developed a liking for the AL East's favorite punching bag.