Live Blog: Red Sox at Rangers


Jul 20, 2009

Live Blog: Red Sox at Rangers The Red Sox saw plenty of heat on Sunday from Roy Halladay. Now, they get to live in three days of heat deep in the heart of Texas. The schedule makers have already smiled on the Red Sox by placing all the West Coast trips in the first half. Now, they can put steamy and gross Arlington behind them before the dog days of August.

Rangers 6-3, FINAL: The Sox go down in order and that's three losses in a row to drop into a tie for first with the Yankees in the AL East. Panic Grips Hub!

End 8th, Rangers 6-3: Justin Masterson keeps the Sox within striking distance. Now it's up to Bay (1-for-3), Drew (0-for-2, BB) and Lowell (2-for-3) against closer C.J. Wilson.

Mid 8th, Rangers 6-3: As expected, no leadoff magic, unless you're a Rangers fan. Michael Young, whose already killed the Sox with his bat, makes a great catch to retire Lowrie, reaching over the rail by the Red Sox dugout and going sno-cone to haul it in. The Sox manage to score, with Youkilis singling home Ellsbury with two outs. Then Ortiz nearly kills a fan with a jagged edged broken bat into the stands that also results in another foul pop-out. That kind of night for the Sox offense.

End 7th, Rangers 6-2: We're now 0-for-16 leading off an inning. Jed Lowrie, what you got?

Mid 7th, Rangers 6-2: Eddie Guardado, whose career began in the Eisenhower administration, makes it look very easy in the seventh, striking out the pathetic J.D. Drew on a pitch outside and a foot high, then getting Lowell and Varitek on fly balls short and long for a 1-2-3 inning, as The Summer Panic begins to settle in over the Back Bay.

End 6th, Rangers 6-2: Suddenly, down by four runs, the Red Sox need to get some offense going right now. Who's leading off the seventh? Drew? Never mind. 

10:05 p.m.: And just like that, another Smoltz start goes horribly wrong. This time, Smoltz is his own worst enemy, giving up three homers in the sixth inning, the last two back-to-backers by Murphy and Saltalamacchia to make it 6-2 Rangers with two outs in the inning. The evidence continues to mount that Smoltz (6.31 ERA) is not the answer the Red Sox invested in and hoped for when they signed him this offseason. Right now, Clay Buchholz deserves a spot in the rotation more than Smoltz. End of discussion.

9:55 p.m.: I may have jinxed Smoltz. Right now, he's not making it through the sixth inning, let alone start the seventh. Young, who had never faced Smoltz before tonight, is now 3-for-3 after tying the score 2-2 with a long leadoff homer. Josh Hamilton then follows with a double and Smoltz is in trouble.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Millwood works another 1-2-3 inning, but at 111 pitches, and with the Rangers concerned about his recent heavy workload, he's probably done for the night.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: John Smoltz hasn't gone deeper than six innings in any of his first four starts with the Red Sox, but that could well change tonight. Smoltz is only at 75 pitches through five innings, allowing just a one-out single to Saltalamachhia in the fifth.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Red Sox leadoff hitters are now 0-for-14 since Sunday. Pedroia, who hasn't led off an inning tonight, is 0-for-3 after Young robs him of a hit to end the inning.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Michael Young has Smoltz's number tonight, leading off the fourth with a double for his second hit — the only two hits Smoltz allowed in 3 2/3 innings. The third hit went to Hank Blalock, who followed up a pair of tappers back to Smoltz with a double to the gap in left-center to put the Rangers on the board.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: The Red Sox nearly break it open, but have to settle for one run, as the Rangers get the benefit of a couple inches here and a couple inches there. With two outs, Drew walked (!) and Mike Lowell singled to center. Jason Varitek followed with a booming drive to right that just missed going out for a three-run homer. Instead, the Rangers were able to get the ball to the plate just in time for Jarrod Saltalamacchia to tag out the gimpy but game Lowell at the plate. Had the throw home been off by the slightest bit, even the slow Lowell would have made it. With two outs, you have to send him, even with the bad wheels. Just didn't work out.

End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Ian Kinsler hit two home runs Sunday against the Twins, including a two-run walkoff in the 12th inning. He nearly made it three in two days, chasing Drew to the fence, but Drew's glove still works, and Smoltz had his second straight 1-2-3 inning.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: The leadoff woes continue, as Ellsbury grounds out to second. Since the start of Sunday's game, the Red Sox are 0-for-12 when leading off an inning. Ellsbury and Drew are each 0-for-4. Following Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia grounds one back up the middle, but Kevin Millwood snares it with his barehand and throws Pedroia out. Nice — but dangerous — play.

End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Smoltz is even better in the second inning, striking out Byrd and Murphy after a lazy flyout by Hank Blalock. It's all home runs and strikeouts for these Rangers, and so far Smoltz is keeping the fly balls in the park.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Leading off really disagrees with J.D. Drew these days. This time, Drew finds himself leading off the second inning, and his slump goes on with a flyout to left. Drew is now 3 for his last 39. Youch!

End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: A good, solid start for Smoltz, who allows just a one-out single to Michael Young and gets three routine fly balls to put the Rangers down. Smoltz figured to be his old self by his fifth start off shoulder surgery, and tonight's the night.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: For all the changes in the lineup, it was the two mainstays – Kevin Youkilis 3rd, David Ortiz 4th — that produced the first run. Youkilis started it with a two-out fly ball into the sun, blinding old friend David Murphy and landing safely in mid-left center for a cheapie single. Nothing cheap about Ortiz's blast to center, hitting about a foot short of a home run against the wall, just out of Marlon Byrd's reach for an RBI double. Now Smoltz takes the mound.

7:50 p.m.: You pretty much have to go back to Opening Day to find the ideal lineup that Terry Francona wants to take into battle. Tonight, that lineup makes its re-appearance. Jacoby Ellsbury is back in the leadoff spot, with David Ortiz hitting cleanup, J.D. Drew hitting sixth and Mike Lowell seventh. For Drew, the shift in the order became a necessity, after going 1-for-24 and 3-for-38 over the past 10 days. Ellsbury may not walk enough to be considered a prototypical leadoff man, but at least he's getting on base. If Drew can get himself righted, this lineup has a chance to take off.

3 p.m.: What the Sox can't avoid is another difficult pitching matchup. Kevin Millwood, a former Atlanta teammate of tonight's Sox starter John Smoltz, has quietly been having a fine season, going 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA in five June starts before slumping in three pre-break starts in July. Despite allowing 17 earned runs in 17 1/3 July innings, Millwood (8-7) still has an ERA of 3.49 for the season.

As for Smoltz, the Red Sox are hoping to see some consistency from the 42-year-old, who had his best game of four last time out against the Royals nine days ago. With Clay Buchholz looking solid last Friday, the Sox don't necessarily have to rely on Smoltz down the stretch, so it behooves the future Hall of Famer to show the Red Sox he can be counted on each time out between now and Sept. 1, when postseason roster decisions are made.

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