The Sox jumped on Orioles rookie Jason Berken on Sunday afternoon,
rocking him for six runs on 10 hits in the first three innings, more
than enough to cruise to a 9-3 victory. Jason Bay had an RBI single in
the first inning, and the Sox never looked back. Bay would later add a
towering home run to left, his 35th round-tripper of the season.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was encouraging on the mound for the Red Sox. He kept
the Orioles scoreless until the fourth inning, when he slipped up and
gave up a two-run homer to Luke Scott, but the recently rehabbed Dice-K
finished with a respectable line of 5.1 innings, three runs on eight
hits, five strikeouts and only one walk. It appears that the vintage
Matsuzaka is back just in time for October.
The Red Sox finish the season with an absolutely dominant 16-2 record
against the Orioles. They'll surely miss Baltimore as they board their
flight for Kansas City tonight.
Final: Red Sox 9, Orioles 3.
Takashi Saito comes
in to pitch the ninth, and he finishes the Orioles off. The O's get a
couple of baserunners with one out, but Saito strikes out the final two
batters of the game, icing the cake on the Red Sox' sweep. The third
strike to Felix Pie gets away from Varitek, but 'Tek makes the throw to
first and finishes things. The Sox get their sweep.
Middle 9th, 9-3 Sox: When did this one become a pitchers' duel?
Since Ellsbury's home run in the top of the seventh, neither team has
mustered a single hit — Jim Johnson gives the Orioles a solid inning of relief this time, setting Josh Reddick, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek down in order. On to the bottom of the ninth — time to finish this thing.
End 8th, 9-3 Sox: Okajima makes quick work of the O's in the
bottom of the eighth, getting a little help from Dustin Pedroia along
the way. Pedroia makes a pretty backhanded stab of a grounder up the
middle from Ty Wigginton, throwing over to first just in time to get
him out and end the inning. On to the ninth.
Middle 8th, 9-3 Sox: Dennis Sarfate gives the Orioles a solid
eighth in relief of Bass, recording a 1-2-3 inning against the Sox'
3-4-5. Martinez and Youkilis each fly out to center field, and Jason
Bay strikes out swinging to end the inning. On to the bottom of the
eighth, as Hideki Okajima will face the 4-5-6 of the Orioles' order.
End 7th, 9-3 Sox: Smooth sailing for Ram-Ram in the seventh —
he gives the Orioles one baserunner, as Felix Pie works a two-out walk,
but that's all the O's get. Ramirez benefits from a rare out by Matt
Wieters — the Baltimore catcher grounds out to second with two outs,
and the inning is over. The Sox are now six outs away from a series
Middle 7th, 9-3 Sox: Everything appears to be going well in the
seventh for Brian Bass — until, that is, Jacoby Ellsbury launches one
deep to right field and over the wall for a home run, his eighth of the
season and 20th of his career. The Sox tack on another run — this one
appears to be out of reach.
End 6th, 8-3 Sox: Matsuzaka takes the mound to start the sixth,
but he doesn't finish it. Matt Wieters leads off the sixth inning with
a single to right field, his seventh hit of this series, and after a
walk and another single, Terry Francona pulls Dice-K in favor of Ramon Ramirez.
Ramirez gets ahead of Michael Aubrey 0-2, but then he throws four
straight balls and walks in a run. The O's get one back, but the Sox
are still securely out in front with a five-run cushion.
Middle 6th, 8-2 Sox: Chris Waters comes back out for another
inning, but he doesn't make it through. Pedroia and Martinez start off
with back-to-back singles, and after Youk walks to load the bases, Dave Trembley decides he's had enough of Waters. He gets Brian Bass
to take over, and Bass plunks Jason Bay with his very first pitch,
forcing in a Boston run. But from there, it's smooth sailing — J.D. Drew grounds
out, and Mike Lowell grounds into a 5-4-3 double play on the first
pitch he sees. The Sox get one, but the rally ends there.
End 5th, 7-2 Sox: Brian Roberts comes up with yet another
double, driving one into the gap in left-center with two outs and the
bases empty, but the O's come up empty in the inning. Felix Pie grounds
out to V-Mart at first, the Dice-K is out of trouble in the fifth.
That's 54 doubles on the season for Roberts now, a major-league best
and a career high.
Middle 5th, 7-2 Sox: Finally, a scoreless inning for the Red Sox. Chris Waters gives
the O's a solid inning in relief — he retires the Sox' 8-9-1 hitters
without too much trouble. Popout, groundout, strikeout and we're moving
to the bottom of the fifth.
End 4th, 7-2 Sox: The O's are on the board. Dice-K starts off
the fourth inning on the wrong foot, giving up a single to left by Matt
Wieters, and two batters later, Luke Scott takes him deep to left on a
3-1 pitch. It's the sixth hit of this series for Wieters, and the 24th
home run of the season for Scott. Dice-K then gets Ty Wigginton to pop out and K's Aubrey, giving him five strikeouts on the afternoon. Not too shabby.
Middle 4th, 7-0 Sox: The Red Sox are still without a single
goose egg on their half of the Camden Yards scoreboard. This time it's
Jason Bay providing the Sox' spark — with one out and the bases empty,
Bay hits one over everything in left field, a towering home run
to put the Sox up 7-0. It's Bay's 35th home run of the season, tying
the career high he set back in Pittsburgh in 2006.
End 3rd, 6-0 Sox: Cesar Izturis starts off with an infield
single against Dice-K, but Pedroia and Gonzalez turn a beautiful double
play to squelch the Oriole threat, with Gonzo making a nice spin move
at second base to throw out Roberts at first. Felix Pie then strikes out looking, and the Red Sox are out of the third. Make it four K's in three inning for Matsuzaka.
Middle 3rd, 6-0 Sox: Berken appears headed for his first
scoreless inning, but those hopes are dashed in a hurry. The Sox start
the two-out rally when Varitek singles on an 0-1 pitch, and Gonzo then
follows with a double down the right-field line. That brings up the top
of the order — first Ellsbury lines one into the gap in left-center
for a ground-rule double, scoring two runs, and then Dustin Pedroia reaches on an infield single as well. Berken then gets Victor to ground out to Brian Roberts at second, ending the inning, but the damage has been done. Again. This one's getting out of hand.
End 2nd, 4-0 Sox: Another solid inning for Dice-K — again the
O's manage a two-out single, but again they end up with nothing.
Michael Aubrey bloops one into center field for a base hit, but Dice
goes after Justin Turner and gets him to ground out to Alex Gonzalez on
a broken-bat roller to short. Inning over.
Middle 2nd, 4-0 Sox: The Sox jump on Berken again, and they could have made it even worse if not for a nice running catch by Luke Scott. Alex Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury
start off the inning with successive singles, and a Victor Martinez
single then plates Gonzo and makes it 4-0. But Scott makes a nice catch
at the warning track to nab a Kevin Youkilis fly ball, and the O's
eventually get out of the inning without any further trouble.
End 1st, 3-0 Sox: Four men come up; three get mowed down.
Matsuzaka strikes out the first two batters in the bottom of the first
without breaking a sweat; Matt Wieters follows with a first-pitch single to center field to put a runner aboard, but Dice-K comes back and strikes out Nick Markakis looking to end the inning. Not a bad start for the Sox' righty.
Middle 1st, 3-0 Sox: The Red Sox draw first blood against Jason
Berken. And second. And third. Berken walks two guys at the top of the
order, and it's never a good idea to put ducks on the pond with the
heart of the Red Sox' order coming up. Jason Bay singles to plate one
run, and then with the bases loaded, Mike Lowell comes through with a
single of his own, scoring two more and providing an early three-run
cushion for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
1:30 p.m.: Getting ready to get underway from Camden Yards, and
it's time for some lineup notes. After battling some flu-like symptoms
last night, Jason Bay is now back in the Red Sox' lineup — Bay will play left field and bat fifth as usual. Jason Varitek is back in the lineup and catching Daisuke Matsuzaka; that means Victor Martinez moves to first base, Kevin Youkilis goes to third and Mike Lowell gets to DH for a day. David Ortiz enjoys a Sunday afternoon off.
For the Orioles, Luke Scott is back in the lineup and playing left field, reclaiming that spot from Jeff Fiorentino. A couple of O's regulars have the afternoon off — we'll be seeing Michael Aubrey and Justin Turner take the field at first base and third, respectively.
9:02 a.m.: The Red Sox are finally finishing their season series with the Baltimore Orioles. They'll probably miss it.
Every punching bag must be thrown away eventually, and this is the end of the road for Sox-O's this season. The Red Sox won 15 of their first 17 against Baltimore this season, and they'll have Daisuke Matsuzaka on the hill as they look for one last victory.
This is a big start for Dice-K. He was brilliant in his first game back, throwing six shutout innings against the Angels, but now it's time to find out whether lightning can strike twice.
The Sox, who have won nine of their last 10, will face rookie Jason Berken for the last time this season. Berken is 5-11, and getting a win against the Sox this time out will be an uphill battle.