Live Blog: Red Sox at Rays


Aug 5, 2009

Live Blog: Red Sox at Rays

Rays 6-4, FINAL: The Red Sox get swept away, and with the Yankees winning in Toronto, the deficit is back to 2 1/2 games. The Red Sox almost have to get no worse than a split of this four-game set in the Bronx, or the division could start slipping out of their reach with eight weeks left in the season.

10:15 p.m.: Howell makes it two straight called strike threes, with both out pitches right over the heart of the plate. That leaves it up to Jacoby Ellsbury to keep this game alive.

10:12 p.m.: Jason Varitek strikes out on three pitches for the first out of the ninth. Jed Lowrie coming up as the tying run.

10:10 p.m.: J.D. Drew, pinch hittng for Baldelli against lefty J.P. Howell leading off the ninth, draws a walk to bring the tying run to the plate.

End 8th, Rays 6-4: It will be Rocco Baldelli, Jason Varitek and Jed Lowrie in the ninth to prevent the Red Sox from falling 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees, who lead Toronto 7-4 in the eighth at Rogers Centre.

Mid 8th, Rays 6-4: Another great chance to put up multiple runs goes by the boards. Youkilis brings home Pedroia from third with a groundout, but Bay follows with a grounder to short that freezes Martinez at second, then Mike Lowell, who has looked horrible at the plate tonight, flies out to shallow left-center to end the inning.

9:46 p.m.: The Sox are making noise again, putting runners at second and third with nobody out against somebody named Jeff Bennett. Dan Wheeler is coming on and the Sox have their big chance.

End 7th, Rays 6-3: Manny Delcarmen, another pitcher the Red Sox should have traded when they had the chance, relieves Penny and allows a two-out homer to Jason Bartlett, making the task that much tougher with two innings to go.

Mid 7th, Rays 5-3: The Red Sox score without the benefit of a homer, as Rocco Baldelli reaches on a two-base error by Ben Zobrist, who dropped a shallow fly to right, and scores on a groundout by Jed Lowrie. But the Sox are down to six outs left.

End 6th, Rays 5-2: Penny makes it through six, but not without allowing another home run. Pat Burrell does the honors this time, erasing the Martinez homer in the top of the inning. Lance Cormier is on for the Rays in the seventh.

Mid 6th, Rays 4-2: This solo homer offense the Red Sox are employing can only carry them so far. After Martinez's shot, Price mows down Youkilis, Bay and Lowell to end the inning. But Price is at 107 pitches, so he is probably done.

8:58 p.m.: Alive? Victor Martinez makes it a 4-2 game with a leadoff homer in the sixth. It's his first homer with the Red Sox and it could not come at a better time.

End 5th, Rays 4-1: It hasn't been pretty, but Penny is going to make it to the sixth inning. Penny has retired five in a row and 8 of 10 since allowing Crawford's homer in the third and is at 89 pitches through five. But if the offense can't get going, it won't matter what Penny and the bullpen does.

Mid 5th, Rays 4-1: A flicker of life in the fifth, but the patient remains in critical condition. Jed Lowrie singles with two outs and Jacoby Ellsbury follows with a double, the first time in 18 innings this series the Red Sox had multiple hits. But it still ends up a scoreless frame, as Dustin Pedroia flies out to center. The Sox have now stranded four runners in scoring position the past three innings.

End 4th, Rays 4-1: Penny stops the bleeding for the moment, allowing just a one-out single and stolen base to B.J. Upton but stranding him at second. Perhaps not a coincidence, but the two innings when Penny retired the leadoff batter, the Rays have not scored.

Mid 4th, Rays 4-1: Is it me, or are we watching a season die before our eyes? For the second straight inning, a double with less than two outs is wasted. The Red Sox have as many foul outs (3) as hits and just look defeated against the jacked-up Rays. Not exactly what you want to see heading to New York for four enormous games.

End 3rd, Rays 4-1: Penny gets through the inning by getting Zobrist and Pat Burrell on fly ball outs, but it's another two-run, 25-pitch inning, bringing the total to 60 pitches.

8:05 p.m.: Penny is a starter, but he's no stopper. Carl Crawford goes opposite field for another two-run homer and the Sox are down 4-1. Turns out, Penny's 1-2-3 first inning was a mirage. At this rate, he'll be lucky to go five and the Red Sox will be lucky to have a chance to come back.

Mid 3rd, Rays 2-1: What a difference six inches makes. After Varitek's double, the next three hitters go down in order, leaving Varitek stranded at third. With the offense back to amenic levels, that was a bad squander.

7:51 p.m.: Mercy, Part II: Jason Varitek just led off the third by shattering his bat on a 95 mph Price fastball and came within six inches of a home run. Tek settles for a double, but that was a remarkable show of strength by the Captain.

End 2nd, Rays 2-1: While everyone waited for Pena's homer to land, Penny recovered to get the next two batters, including Gabe Kapler looking for Penny's second strikeout of the inning. But Penny needed 25 pitches in the second, bringing his total to 35.

7:42 p.m.: Mercy. Carlos Pena just turned on a Penny fastball and sent it deep, deep, deep into the seats in right field for a two-run homer. Penny had just missed on a 2-and-2 pitch. Pena didn't miss on 3-and-2. Yikes.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Jason Bay has been a slumping hitter for almost two months, but maybe the three days off has done him some good. Bay's third at-bat of August looks a lot like April and May, taking Price deep to left for a solo homer, giving the Sox the early lead.

End 1st, 0-0: Maybe tonight is the night for Brad Penny. He needs just 10 pitches to throw a 1-2-3 first inning, getting a huge boost from Jed Lowrie, who goes deep into the shortstop hole on a Jason Bartlett grounder and makes a long jump-throw to get Bartlett by a step. A big time play to get Penny started on the right track.

Mid 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox offense couldn't get anything going Tuesday against Matt Garza, save a pair of solo homers, and the early returns tonight aren't any better. The other Game 7 hero from last October, David Price, puts the Sox down in order to start the game.

7:10 p.m.: As we get started tonight, I'm still scratching my head at Francona's decision to pitch to Evan Longoria with two bases open in the 13th Tuesday night.

Francona said on WEEI today that he was concerned about taxing Takashi Saito's arm and that, essentially, he feared Ben Zobrist with runners at the corners as much as Longoria with a runner at third. Really? Zobrist was 0-for-4 with only one ball leaving the infield in six plate appearances Tuesday. Four intentionall balls to Longoria wasn't going to make Saito's arm fall off, and you can still expand the zone and be careful with Zobrist, with Joe Dillon on deck. That explanation doesn't pass the smell test.

6:30 p.m.: The Red Sox made a move today to shore up the bullpen, recalling left-hander Billy Traber from Pawtucket and sending Josh Reddick back down. Traber, 29, most recently pitched for the Yankees and gives the Sox some wiggle room tonight if Brad Penny stays true to form and can't get past the fifth inning. Traber, who was 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA at Pawtucket, has been starting in the minors, so he is stretched out.

Manager Terry Francona also told the media before the game that Clay Buchholz, who was up in the bullpen in the 12th and 13th innings Tuesday, could be used out of the pen tonight.

On the hitting side, Jason Bay (hamstring) is back in the lineup, batting fifth. Mike Lowell also gets the start at DH, with David Ortiz and J.D. Drew sitting against lefty David Price.

3 p.m.: One more time, the Red Sox must dust themselves off after taking a shot to the chin and find a way to win a big game. The list of tough-luck losses, which seemed to start with the meltdown in Baltimore five weeks ago, grew Tuesday night at the Trop, as the Red Sox chose not to walk Evan Longoria in the 13th and instead got a walk-off, wasting a terrific outing by Jon Lester.

As was the case a week ago, it is up to Brad Penny to eat up innings, after the entire bullpen was used Tuesday night. Penny struggled with the task — as he has all season — last Wednesday against the Athletics, but he had a rare start into the seventh inning against the Rays at Fenway in early May. Both of Penny's starts against the Rays, coming in a span of a week in May, were decent, allowing 3 runs over 6 and 6 1/3 innings in each, and if not for Julio Lugo at the Trop, those numbers might be a little better. Whatever works on the eve of a four-game showdown in the Bronx.

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