Red Sox 6-1, FINAL: Saito strikes out the side and the Red Sox make it two in a row in Toronto. Texas is winning 4-1 in the fifth against the Twins, so the Wild Card appears destined to remain tied for another night. Jon Lester goes for the sweep Thursday night.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 6-1: Well, that was an eventful inning. After Brandon League got the first two outs without fanfare, Victor Martinez launched a solo homer to left. That's when the fun started.
League promptly hit Kevin Youkilis on the elbow with an 83 mph splitter. Youkilis didn't even flinch, putting his head down and trotting to first. But the home plate umpire warned both benches anyway, prompting a sharp rebuke from Terry Francona. David Ortiz then reached on an infield single, but Youkilis drifted too far off second and got caught in a rundown. Somehow, he managed to get back to second safely — and this time he was safe. There, the fun ended as Jason Bay struck out to end the inning.
End 8th, Red Sox 5-1: Okajima gets lefties and righties, throwing a 1-2-3 inning, leaving the ninth for Takashi Saito (more than likely). The Sox are one inning away from winning their first — and last –series of the season at Rogers Centre.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-1: Hideki Okajima gets another shot at the lefties in the Jays lineup: Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-1: Hello, Ramon Ramirez. The star of the first two months regains his form, striking out two in the inning, allowing just a two-out walk before getting Aaron Hill looking.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-1: Jays reliever Josh Roenicke is doing a nice Halladay imitation, retiring 6 of 7 batters faced over two innings. It appears Ramon Ramirez will be coming on for the Red Sox in the seventh.
End 6th, Red Sox 5-1: Buchholz might be done at 94 pitches, but he goes out with a flourish, leaving the bases loaded to maintain a comfortable lead. The Jays loaded the bases in large part by hitting infield singles out of the reach of Youkilis at third. But Buchholz did not give in, even after falling behind Encarnacion 2-and-0, getting a routine fly to center to end the inning.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-1: Maybe the Jays should have yanked Halladay sooner. The Red Sox fail to get a hit for the first time since the first inning. Now, it's up to Buchholz and the bullpen to finish this one off.
8:56 p.m.: Roy Halladay is done for the night, lasting just five innings and 103 pitches. Halladay just didn't have it tonight, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and two walks. He did strike out seven, but when you allow Alex Gonzalez to go 2-for-2, it's not your night.
End 5th, Red Sox 5-1: After his stumble in the fourth, Buchholz breezes through the fifth, picking up his fourth strikeout in another 1-2-3 inning. Buchholz is at 76 pitches through five.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-1: The Sox finally get the big hit to break the game open. Jason Bay rockets a two-run homer into the left-field corner, scoring Kevin Youkilis, who had quite an adventure on the bases before coasting home on the homer.
Youkilis was tagged out by Overbay after a wide throw by Aaron Hill on a routine grounder to second, but the first base umpire called Youkilis safe. He then overslid the second base bag on a steal attempted and appeared to be tagged out a second time. Again, called safe. It's been that kind of night for Halladay,
End 4th, Red Sox 3-1: In another encouraging sign for his development, Buchholz limits the damage in a potentially disastrous inning. After cruising through three, Buchholz allows two hits and a walk against one out, the Jays scoring their first run and threatening for more. But Buchholz holds firm, striking out Randy Ruiz and getting Edwin Encarnacion on a groundout to end the inning.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Alex Gonzalez strikes again, singing off Halladay with two outs, turning a potential 1-2-3 inning into another marathon. Jacoby Ellsbury follows with a triple to right for the three-run lead, then J.D. Drew works a walk as Halladay goes over 80 pitches. Only a nice grab of a VMart line drive by second baseman Aaron Hill prevents a bigger inning.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Buchholz allows his first hit, a one-out single by Rod Barajas. Buchholz's response? Two strikeouts to end the inning. At long last, it appears the Buchholz the Red Sox refused to trade is arriving.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: The Sox blow a chance to blow the game wide open, putting runners at second and third with one out and Ortiz and Bay coming up. But Halladay strikes both of them out, the latter on a questionable check swing on a 3-and-2 pitch. The consolation prize: Halladay is now at 68 pitches.
End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: Buchholz has clearly been the better pitcher so far, retiring the first six batters he's faced. Buchholz's hits and earned runs allowed decreased in each of his last three starts, and the trend is continuing so far tonight.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: If Alex Gonzalez wants to keep producing key hits, the Red Sox aren't going to stop him. Never an offensive threat, Gonzalez nevertheless has another key RBI in this series, scoring Casey Kotchman from second with a two-out single up the middle. Halladay is now at 46 pitches, needing 30 to escape the second inning.
7:25 p.m.: David Ortiz has always hit Halladay well, and tonight is no exception. Ortiz opens the second inning with a homer to right, his sixth against Halladay, for a 1-0 Sox lead.
Don Kalkstein for Red Sox MVP? The former Sox mental performance coach spent considerable time with Ortiz in Texas last weekend and the result is 6-for-12 with four homers and seven RBI since.
End 1st, 0-0: The matchup is a rough one, but the setting suits Clay Buchholz just fine. Buchholz, who earned his first victory of 2009 at the Rogers Centre in mid-July, works a 1-2-3 first inning, surviving a line drive off his glove by Aaron Hill that Nick Green converted into an out.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Not a good start for the offense. Roy Halladay needs just 16 pitches to put the Sox away, getting Youkilis looking at a nasty 3-and-2 breaking ball on the outside corner. Halladay did walk Victor Martinez on five pitches, but that was the exception, not the rule.
7:05 p.m.: Jason Varitek is sitting out for the second straight game with muscle spasms in his neck. Mike Lowell is also out of the lineup tonight, with Casey Kotchman at first and Kevin Youkilis at third. The red-hot David Ortiz is hitting fifth tonight, with Jason Bay batting sixth.
6:45 p.m.: The Rem Dog is coming back! Jerry Remy announced today that he will be announcing for real Friday night, when the Red Sox take on the Yankees at Fenway Park.
Remy will return on a part-time basis. Great news about Jerry. Can't wait to see him Friday. For the record, when I played Little League in West Hartford, CT from 1980-82, I wore No. 2 and played second base, even though I'm left-handed. Now, that's a fan.
1:30 p.m.: The Red Sox survived a rare poor performance from Josh Beckett — and an all-too-familiar thrill ride from Jonathan Papelbon — to win a critical game Tuesday night in Toronto and catch Texas in the wild card standings. How big was Tuesday's 10-9 victory? It saves them from lugging a three-game losing streak into the buzzsaw that is Roy Halladay, who opposes Clay Buchholz Wednesday at the Rogers Centre.
How unlucky has Buchholz been lately? Two starts ago, he faced C.C. Sabathia, who took a perfect game into the middle innings. Last Thursday, he drew Justin Verlander, who was hitting 100 mph well over 100 pitches into his shutout effort. Now, Buchholz gets Halladay, who sent Red Sox bats into a funk a month ago on a Sunday afternoon against Jon Lester. The Red Sox will not have Dustin Pedroia Wednesday — he remains in Boston with his wife and newborn son — but the Sox have David Ortiz, who remains red-hot, hitting another homer Tuesday night and going 5-for-11 with three homers and six RBIs over the past four games.