Red Sox 9-1, FINAL (5): The game has been called after the second rain delay of the night. Josh Beckett goes five solid innings for the victory. First pitch of Sunday's first game is 12 hours away. Go to bed, everybody!
11:40 p.m.: Still in a delay at Fenway, and now there's a delay in Texas. The Mariners lead 8-3 in the ninth, but the Rangers have two on and none out as the tarp is now on the field in Arlington. Gotta love it.
11 p.m.: We are back in a rain delay. The rain started up again as the fifth inning ended, and when Evan Longoria slipped and fell on a soaked second base after a leadoff double, the umpires delcared "No Mas." It will be interesting if they bother to re-start this one. Either way, that's probably it for Beckett, who threw 77 pitches over five-plus innings.
End 5th, Red Sox 9-1: Andy Sonnanstine pitched the fifth for the Rays, and you have to wonder, given the lead, the conditions and the doubleheader starting in 13 hours, how soon it will be before Terry Francona unloads his bench.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 9-1: We have ourselves an official game — barely. The rain began falling as hard as it has all night during the top of the fifth, and Beckett could not seem to get the three outs needed to make this one official, allowing a single, hit batter, then a two-out RBI single by Jason Bartlett in a hard rain. Finally, Beckett got Carl Crawford on a lineout to center, and the rain began to lighten up. So we play on.
End 4th, Red Sox 9-0: Youkilis homers to make it 9-0, which would have been the score if Tampa had forfeited tonight. It seems they're doing that, anyway, although Perez must have gotten a talking-to from Joe Maddon, as he went all out to rob Jason Bay of extra bases to end the inning.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 8-0: Staked to a huge lead, Beckett is dealing free and easy, throwing another 1-2-3 inning in the misty Fenway air. The ease in which Beckett is putting away a Rays team that isn't trying means he should be able to go deep, saving the bullpen for the doubleheader Sunday.
End 3rd, Red Sox 8-0: Any doubts about whether the Rays have quit the season ended that half-inning. Perez watches a catchable ball land over his head in center. Then Wily Aybar, who made a diving attempt to catch Jacoby Ellsbury's line drive to first, ho-hums after the carom while Gonzalez scores the eighth run. From World Series to 'Are you serious?' in one season.
10:20 p.m.: Wade Davis, you're no Jeremy Guthrie. The Red Sox have erupted in the third inning, scoring seven runs on six hits and two walks, driving Davis from the game. Alex Gonzalez has two hits in the inning, the latter a three-run double to chase Davis. Fernanado Perez made a truly lame effort to catch AGon's drive that one-hopped the Wall in left-center, giving up on a ball he probably could have caught with a legit effort. With Beckett dealing, this game is effectively over.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Josh Beckett is back, and he's back big! Hyperbole? Maybe. A lineup that's mailing it in? Could be. But Beckett has allowed just one hit and one walk through three innings, and looks as sharp as he did during the season's first four months, when he looked like a Cy Young winner. Better late than never, but the ace the Sox need for October appears to have returned in September.
End 2nd, 0-0: Just when it looked like the Sox were going to make life rough for Davis, he comes back to finish the inning with a flourish. Davis walked Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz to start the inning, but he turned it all the way around, striking out Jason Bay, J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek to put down the uprising. But Davis went to full counts against four different hitters, and is already up to 46 pitches.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: It might seem like a little thing, but Victor Martinez may have just made a huge play in this game. After Beckett walked Wily Aybar with two outs, and his pitch count rising to 20 in the inning, Akinori Iwamura hit a dribbler down the first base line that was about to go foul. But Martinez rushed in scooped it before tagging Iwamura out. That aggressive play saved Beckett from making extra pitches to a troublesome hitter, which could pay dividends as Beckett goes deeper into the night.
End 1st, 0-0: NESN showed parts of the Mother's Day Miracle during the rain delay. That game featured Beckett against Jeremy Guthrie, a pitcher the Red Sox hadn't seen before who took a shutout into the ninth, before the fun began. The Rays' Wade Davis is a pitcher the Red Sox have never seen before facing Beckett. He sets the Sox down in order in the first. History repeating?
Mid 1st, 0-0: Well, that was certainly worth the wait. Josh Beckett needs just eight pitches to set the side down in order on three ground balls. Beckett has struggled in the early innings of virtually every start during his rough patch, so that was a very encouraging sign right there.
9:12 p.m.: We are just moments away from the first pitch. Feels good to type that in.
8:39 p.m.: Sure enough, the start time has been moved back a bit. Now, the scheduled start is 9:15 p.m. Fingers crossed!
8:28 p.m.: The Red Sox are saying the game will start at approximately 9:05 p.m. I am a bit dubious of that pronouncement, but that's their story and they're sticking to it.
8:15 p.m.: There's probably a lot of people scratching their dry heads at Fenway wondering why the game wasn't started on time. The rain hasn't been falling for a while. But it is coming, and the umpires, burned on Friday night, aren't going to make the same mistake twice. Once this final band of showers clears, then we will play. The guestimation of 9:30 still stands.
7:07 p.m.: The rain delay is officially underway. If the radar is interpreted correctly (as I channel my inner Hilton Kaderli), the rain will move out eventually and we might get this game in. But we're talking a start time in the range of 9:30 p.m. And that's an optimistic assessment.
6:55 p.m.: While we settle in for another lengthy delay, here's a little historical fun fact: It was 30 years ago today that Carl Yastrzemski dribbled a single under the glove of Willie Randolph for his 3,000th career hit. Reggie Jackson said before that game if the ball came to him in right field, he would run it in himself and hand it over to Captain Carl, which is exactly what he did. I still think Randolph let the ball go past him intentionally.
6:30 p.m.: The tarp is still on the field and the foercast still looks threatening, with a big green and yellow blob moving up the coast on weather.com's radar loop. Don't expect any first pitches until this system passes completely, after last night's fiasco.
3:30 p.m.: The Red Sox look to put the Friday rainout debacle behind them tonight, and look to put the debacle that has been Josh Beckett's second half behind them, as well. Beckett was only marginally better last Monday against the White Sox — at least he didn't allow any homers — but he is still far from the Cy Young contender of the first half. If the Red Sox have designs on going deep into October — or just getting to the postseason, for that matter — Beckett must find his form.