Red Sox 10-3, FINAL: The magic number is down to three. A victory celebration in the Bronx? It's happened before…
Mid 9th, Red Sox 10-3: David Ortiz finishes up a three-hit night with a two-run double in the ninth to give the Red Sox a seven-run lead. Ortiz raises his average to .237 and now has 26 HR and 91 RBI. A 30-100 season is now a very real possibility.
End 8th, Red Sox 6-3: Well, that was certainly interesting. Saito comes in and actually makes things worse, deflecting a potential 6-4-3 double play ball, then throwing to the wrong base, resulting in a bases-loaded mess. Then Saito walks Miguel Olivo to force in the third run. But before another 6-0 lead goes poof! Alex Gordon hits into a 3-6-1 double play to end the inning, even though Saito never actually tagged first base. Just your typical night at the yard…
11:13 p.m.: What, you thought this game was over? Ramon Ramirez will have none of that! Ramirez gives up a two-run bomb to Billy Butler, cutting the lead to 6-2, then allows a one-out single to Jacobs. Takashi Saito is coming in to stop the madness.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-0: We have officially reached the ugly stage, as the Red Sox score another run on a Royals error, the second of the night by Betancourt. But thank goodness for Sean Casey, who spent a very long inning regaling Donny O (and us) with tales of bench-clearing brawls. Highly entertaining.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-0: Ramirez has ruined some good starts this season, and he almost messed up Buchholz's line, giving up a deep drive to left by Yuniesky Betancourt. But Jason Bay flags it down on the track, closing a great book on Buchholz: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 8 K.
10:41 p.m.: Buchholz gets the first two batters of the seventh, but Miguel Olivo reaches on an infield hit behind the second base bag, then Greg Gibson decides to squeeze Buchholz against Alex Gordon, resulting in a single on a 3-and-1 count. That's it for Buchholz, as Ramon Ramirez comes on to try and get the final out.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-0: Buchholz needs one strikeout to tie his career high, two to break it. Of the next five batters in the Royals lineup, four have one strikeout each, so he has a chance.
End 6th, Red Sox 5-0: Not much of a challenge. Buchholz hits a batter (barely) with two outs in the inning, then strikes out Mike Jacobs for the third time tonight, giving Buchholz eight for the game. At 94 pitches, Buchholz might have one more inning left.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-0: It will be interesting to see how Buchholz does in the bottom of the sixth, after yet another long inning by the offense. Buchholz had a 21-minute wait in the fourth, and this one was up around the 15-minute mark. It's about the only challenge Buchholz has had since the first inning.
End 5th, Red Sox 4-0: The Royals finally get a hit after Buchholz retires 13 in a row. Another small victory: No strikeouts.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 4-0: Here's a vote for postseason surprise hero: Casey Kotchman. 2-for-2 tonight and making the most of his starts the past two weeks. There's going to be a game in October where Kotchman will get a big hit. Book it.
End 4th, Red Sox 4-0: Another 1-2-3 for Buchholz, who has retired 11 in a row. Buchholz now has seven strikeouts, two shy of his career high, last reached Aug. 29 against the Blue Jays at a rainy Fenway Park.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 4-0: More fireworks after the fireworks. A walk, a single and an error brings home the third run, then Pedroia picks up his first recorded RBI with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. It would be very surprising if the Royals put up much of a struggle the rest of the way. That was a game-killer of an inning.
9:14 p.m.: We've got some craziness in the fourth inning. Trey Hillman has been ejected by home plate umpire Greg Gibson after Gibson warned both benches following two breaking balls from Anthony Lerew that nearly hit Mike Lowell.
David Ortiz had just led off the inning with his 26th homer, then Lerew threw two changeups to Lowell, one more inside than the next and the second one up near Lowell's head. Gibson immediately warned both benches, which freaked Hillman out to the point of a loud ejection. Hillman was already annoyed with Gibson's balls-and-strikes, so the fuse was already lit.
End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Buchholz has it going now, retiring eight in a row and striking out two more in the third for a total of six. It took a little longer than some people expected, but Buchholz is finally achieving true ace status.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Dustin Pedroia didn't get credit for an RBI single, but the bet here is that he will before the night is over. With Jacoby Ellsbury on second with one out, Pedroia hit a hot shot that caught Alex Gordon on a wicked in-between hop and deflected into left field. It was scored an error, with Ellsbury scoring on the play, but that was no error. Give the man his hit!
End 2nd, 0-0: A much better second inning for Buchholz. Hard to do better than three strikeouts on 12 pitches. That's four strikeouts of the last five batters.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Can David Ortiz get his average above .240? Big Papi has already aquitted himself this season with 25 homers and 88 RBI. He now sits at .235 with a second-inning single. Getting over the .240 mark isn't the greatest goal in the world, but considering where he's coming from, it's better than nothing.
End 1st, 0-0: Buchholz runs into some early trouble, allowing a pair of one-out singles, but he blows away Mike Jacobs with a 97 mph fastball, then gets Alberto Callaspo on a groundout to escape unharmed. The only problem for Buchholz was the pitch count: 28.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Victor Martinez dispenses with the drama right away. In his first at-bat, Martinez flairs a single to center, extending his hitting streak to 23 games. Martinez waited until late in Wednesday's game for No. 22, but not tonight.
8:05 p.m.: Clay Buchholz is 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his past seven starts, dating back to Aug. 19. And he allowed just three earned runs over 13 innings in losses to C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander the two starts before that, giving him a 2.64 ERA in nine starts since the disaster in Baltimore Aug. 2 (7 ER, 4 IP). His recent success has put Buchholz in the driver's seat to start Game 3 of the ALDS, but needs to maintain that level of performance over his final three starts, starting tonight.
7:10 p.m.: The Rangers lose again today in Oakland, dropping the Red Sox magic number to four. With the postseason all-but-assured, Terry Francona has begun the preparations, lining up his starting pitching for the final 10 days and giving Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew the night off tonight. Josh Beckett will pitch Monday and Saturday, while Clay Buchholz will go tonight, Tuesday and Sunday.
2:45 p.m.: The Red Sox look to earn a split from the surprisingly-hot Royals in the final game of a four-game series Thursday.
The Royals had won 12 of 15 games, including the first two of this series, before Josh Beckett restored order Wednesday night. Victor Martinez caught Beckett, which was a bit of a change, and he is expected to catch Clay Buchholz tonight, which has been the norm. Buchholz has enjoyed considerable success with Martinez behind the plate, pitching his way perhaps to a Game 3 start against the Angels in October. It will be Buchholz or Daisuke Matsuzaka making that start, and who would have guessed that was the choice — and a good choice at that — just two months ago?
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