Rangers 4-3, FINAL: For the first time since April 21, the Red Sox are on the outside, looking in. The Rangers lead the Wild Card by a half-game with seven weeks left in the regular season. The Red Sox get Kevin Youkilis back Tuesday, not a minute too soon.
End 8th, Rangers 4-3: Ramon Ramirez strands two and strikes out two and strikes out two, and now it’s up to Ellsbury, Pedroia and Martinez in the ninth against Frank Francisco, who blew up Friday night.
Mid 8th, Rangers 4-3: Forced to rely on offense from Brian Anderson and Alex Gonzalez with two on was a prayer unanswered. Both struck out looking to end the inning against C.J. Wilson. The only consolation is that the top of the order leads off the ninth.
End 7th, Rangers, 4-3: Would you believe … the first 1-2-3 inning for either team today? Okajima gets it, giving the Sox a chance to complete a comeback against the Rangers bullpen.
Mid 7th, Rangers 4-3: Pedroia homers with one out to get the Teagarden homer back. But or the third time today, Jason Bay makes the last out after Victor Martinez reaches — this time an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.
End 6th, Rangers 4-2: Tazawa allows a leadoff homer to Teagarden to make it a two-run game again, then allows a single to Andrus and his day is over. Hideki Okajima relieves and walks Michael Young intentionally with Andrus at second with one out. But Andruw Jones, hitting for David Murphy, lines out to Lowell at third for an inning-ending double play.
Mid 6th, Rangers 3-2: Casey Kotchman, Brian Anderson and Alex Gonzalez. Not exactly Murderer’s Row.
End 5th, Rangers 3-2: Pedroia makes another huge defenisve play to bail Tazawa out of the inning. With runners at the corners and two out, Hank Blalock sends a grounder into the hole between first and second. But Pedroia dives and smothers it, then gets Blalock by a half-step. In the first, Pedroia’s snag of a line drive started an inning-ending double play.
Mid 5th, Rangers 3-2: Ortiz walks for the second straight time up, but this time it doesn’t translate into a run. Lowell strikes out with two on and two out.
End 4th, Rangers 3-2: Tazawa has his best inning of the four, allowing just a two-out walk. Tazawa got better as the game went along last week. We’ll see how the endgame plays out today.
Mid 4th, Rangers 3-2: Ortiz scores the second run, using a walk to trigger it. Ortiz and Lowell lead off the inning with walks, then two fly balls brought Ortiz around. Brian Anderson gets his first Red Sox RBI with sacrifice fly, then Alex Gonzalez nearly ties it with a double to left. But the ball gets trapped under some fencing in the wall, holding Lowell up at third. What goes around comes around.
End 3rd, Rangers 3-1: This two-out jam, Tazawa could not escape. With David Murphy at first, Tazawa allows another deep double to Josh Hamilton, but this one stays in the park, and Murphy scores easily. Then Kinsler strikes again with a single, and the deficit is two.
Mid 3rd, 1-1: Martinez keeps up his hot hitting with another single up the middle. It’s his third multi-hit game in his last four. But the hit again comes with two outs, and Jason Bay, who homered along with Martinez Saturday night, again makes the third out at third.
End 2nd, 1-1: Tazawa gets hit pretty hard in the second, allowing the Kinsler homer and assorted other rockets. But the rookie also gets a big break: a two-out double to right-center by Elvis Andrus — just out of Ellsbury’s reach — hops the fence for a ground-rule double, forcing Taylor Teagarden to stop at third. He never scored, as Tazawa gets Borbon on a fly to left.
2:43 p.m.: Kinsler gets his own brand of revenge. In his first at-bat since taking a fastball off the back of the helmet Saturday night, Kinsler takes Tazawa very deep to left, tying the score at 1-1. Kinsler now has two homers in two games since coming off the DL.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: David Ortiz loves the Ballpark at Arlington. He leads off the second with his 17th homer of the season and second of the weekend. It was Ortiz’s 13th career homer in Arlington.
End 1st, 0-0: The poise is definitely there. Tazawa allowed the first two batters to reach in somewhat shaky fashion, failing to cover first on a Borbon bunt, then walking Young, But Tazawa, throwing his breaking ball to great effect, gets Marlon Byrd to line out into a 4-3 double play to end the inning. By this time in his first start, he had allowed three runs.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Victor Martinez stays hot with a two-out single, but Jason Bay’s line drive is snared by third baseman Michael Young to end the inning. Martinez, who is catching today, is 6-for-12 over the past four games.
2:05 p.m.: With the Yankees running away and hiding in the AL East, the focus narrows to the Wild Card race. The winner today will be the leader. The Red Sox haven’t trailed by 7 1/2 games in the division this early in a season since 2004.
1:55 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury stands on the precipice of Red Sox history, needing one stolen base to tie Tommy Harper’s single-season record of 54. That number is also the most by an AL center fielder since Kenny Lofton in 1998. Ellsbury’s 86.9 percent success rate ties for seventh-best since 1920 for players with at least 50 steals.
12:15 p.m.: The Red Sox look to make it two of three in this critical wild card series with the Rangers this afternoon after getting knocked around on Saturday night.
Once again, the rookie Junichi Tazawa finds himself in an interesting position, as the Rangers may well be looking for retribution after Ian Kinsler was hit in the back of the helmet late in Saturday’s game. Tazawa hit Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in his Tuesday start, which ultimately led to Kevin Youkilis‘ suspension. Lost in all the fireworks was a solid performance by the rookie in his first major league start. The Red Sox will need more of the same today to avoid falling out of the wild card lead.