Red Sox Live Blog: Rays Cruise Past Punchless Sox 7-1


April 18, 2010

Red Sox Live Blog: Rays Cruise Past Punchless Sox 7-1 Postgame, Rays 7-1: We paid a visit to the Rays clubhouse to get their take on things after claiming the first three games of the series.

Each of them spoke about the goals they set before spring training, among them being winning on the road and taking care of the AL East elites.

They were eating good food, playing music and smiling, the goals accomplished early.

On the Sox side of things, there is a search for answers. Jon Lester even said he doesn't really know what he needs to do to get better, he just has to. The same could be applied for the team as a whole. There are so many areas and so many players that are just not working out right now that the only thing to do, in the words of Terry Francona, is "dig ourselves out."

That process could start Patriot's Day on Monday when John Lackey opposes Jeff Niemann.

Final, Rays 7-1: Patriots' Day has been a winning holiday for the Red Sox of late. They have taken six straight on the traditional New England holiday and eight of their last nine. In order to keep that streak alive, Boston will have to turn around a miserable four-game slide which has seen them commit seven errors and get outscored 24-7.

Already five games out in the A.L. East, the Sox will send John Lackey to the mound to try to end the streak.

Off to the clubhouse for some feedback. We'll wrap it up in a bit.

Mid 9th, Rays 7-0: Well, the Sox have gotten Matt Garza out of the game, so maybe there's some magic to be made. Reliever Mike Ekstrom will have something to say about that.

End 8th, Rays 7-0: This time Adrian Beltre has a sure double, breaking up Matt Garza's impressive streak of facing the minimum through 7 1/3 innings.

The hit puts runners at second and third with one out. In fashion typical of the Red Sox of late, however, the runners never move.

Boston is now 16-for-92 (.174) with runners in scoring position this year.

Manny Delcarmen is the third Red Sox pitcher.

Mid 8th, Rays 7-0: There have been five double plays turned in this one. The Sox end the seventh on the latest, sending Matt Garza out there in a bid for history.

End 7th, Rays 7-0: Another double play and another three-batter inning for Matt Garza. He has still faced the minimum number of men through seven.

Marco Scutaro has been on base for two of the double plays.

Hey, at least the sun is out.

Mid 7th, Rays 7-0: Scott Schoeneweis works a quick seventh with help from a double play. Get up and stretch. It'll do wonders, especially if you've been stuck on the couch watching the Sox this weekend.

End 6th, Rays 7-0: OK, the no-hitter has been gone for a bit, but Matt Garza has still faced the minimum number of batters through six. Adrian Beltre's ill-advised dash to second helped out in the fifth, and a double play ends the sixth.

Scott Schoeneweis has taken over for Jon Lester.

Mid 6th, Rays 7-0: It's hard to imagine the Red Sox looking more lost than they do right now. Jon Lester serves up the second two-run homer of the game and then commits a throwing error, the seventh miscue in four games for Boston. It leads to the third run of the inning.

B.J. Upton had the homer and it landed in almost the exact same spot that Carlos Pena's did back in the second.

Lester has surrendered 15 runs in 16 innings in 2010.

End 5th, Rays 4-0: The Red Sox cannot get out of their own way. Adrian Beltre breaks up a perfect game with a blast off the Green Monster and then gets thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. By several feet.

Mid 5th, Rays 4-0: Two more stolen bases in the fifth for the Rays, this time a double steal without a throw. Carl Crawford has successfully stolen 30 straight bases against the Red Sox since Sept. 21, 2005.

The steals put runners at second and third with two out. Jon Lester wiggles out of trouble by getting Evan Longoria to ground to second.

At one point in the fifth, the sun was out while rain fell at Fenway.

End 4th, Rays 4-0: A walk to Marco Scutaro is erased by the old 4-5-3 double play as Victor Martinez grounds right into the shift.

Red Sox outfield prospect Ryan Westmoreland is in the park catching the game with some friends. He remains in recovery from brain surgery at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. There are no new updates on his recovery, but it's good to see him out and about again.

Mid 4th, Rays 4-0: It is doubtful that Jon Lester cares at all, but he recorded his 500th career strikeout when he got Willy Aybar for the second out of the fourth.

He gets No. 501 on Dioner Navarro seconds later.

The Rays have 13 runs on 13 hits in this series. That shows how giving the Red Sox defense has been.

End 3rd, Rays 4-0: Forty-one pitches for Matt Garza through three perfect innings. One of the outs comes on a punch-out of Jeremy Hermida, who has fanned six times in his last two-plus games.

Mid 3rd, Rays 4-0: It's becoming harder to find any positives right now. Jon Lester labors through another two-run inning, which sees both come in on a single by Ben Zobrist.

Lester walked the first two in the frame. A bunt moved the runners up 90 feet before Zobrist's hit.

Zobrist then stole second base on Lester and Jason Varitek. Although he never scored, it dropped the Red Sox to 1-for-19 (5.2 percent) in throwing out runners. Varitek is 0-for-6 so far this season.

End 2nd, Rays 2-0: Perhaps we can simply carry these Matt Garza numbers through the order, just to show how dominant he has been against these Red Sox hitters.

Kevin Youkilis drops to .250 (6-for-24) against Garza with a lazy fly to right. J.D. Drew is now at .150 (3-for-20) with a pop to second. Adrian Beltre is 3-for-11 (.273) with a fly to right.

Including the two scoreless innings in this one and a pair of postseason wins over Boston, Garza is now 7-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 14-plus starts against the Sox.

Mid 2nd, Rays 2-0: Mike Cameron will draw some more scrutiny for his play in center field after getting a very late break on an Evan Longoria drive. The ball sailed over Cameron's head as he reached the track. It went for a double and the very next pitch — a 96-mph fastball over the plate — was deposited by Carlos Pena onto the camera stand in center for a two-run homer.

I wasn't necessarily predicting it earlier — but just warning against getting too caught up in one strong inning from Jon Lester. In two of his three starts he has had great velocity early, but he seems to place it in poor spots after the first inning passes.

End 1st, 0-0: Red Sox manager Terry Francona uttered these words when discussing Rays starter Matt Garza: "We have a number of guys who don't have good numbers against him."

Marco Scutaro is now 7-for-33 (.212) against him after striking out to start the first. Dustin Pedroia is 7-for-35 (.200) after he whiffs (the fifth straight strikeout to start the game). Victor Martinez, one of the few Boston hitters with some success against the righty, drops to 6-for-21 (.286) with a lineout.

The sky is doing some funny things right now. There is blue sky to the right side of the park but there's rain falling inside and the skyline is shrouded in clouds.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Think what a dominant start by Jon Lester would do. Not only does this club need a pick-me-up in the biggest way, but also Lester has yet to really get going and is hearing whispers again of his tendency to start slow. Two birds with one stone if he can continue to look the way he did in the first.

Lester gets Jason Bartlett looking at a 95-mph fastball and Carl Crawford swinging and Ben Zobrist looking at a 96-mph fastball.

Just one word of caution. Lester had a very similar first inning in his opener against the Yankees but hit a bit of a wall soon thereafter. Let's see if he can remain strong this afternoon.

1:56 p.m.: Nice moment at Fenway as the crowd gives a warm ovation to the Achilles Freedom Team, a group of disabled veterans who will be competing in Monday's Boston Marathon.

1:50 p.m.: Jonah Hill is on the field, wearing No. 5. He is about set to unleash a mean heater under now sunny skies.

1:44 p.m.: The new start time is 2:05 p.m, according to team officials.

1:41 p.m.: The tarp is coming off, the lights are on and Jon Lester is throwing in the bullpen. We might not be too far off from seeing some baseball.

1:33 p.m.: The rain has let up just a tad, but we are entering a rain delay. No official word from team officials. We have all day to wait it out. Updates to come when we get them.

1:19 p.m.: The skies have just opened up in a major way and the tarp is going back on the field. A delay seems imminent. Give Mike Cameron credit for still signing autographs down the right-field line.

11:42 a.m.: We have actually seen a tiny dose of sun and there does not seem to be any rain falling right now. Perhaps we're out of the woods. Sox manager Terry Francona told us he wore eight layers of clothing last night, which he said was a personal record. He won't need that many articles of clothing Sunday. Here are some other updates from the skipper:

— Closer Jonathan Papelbon is still at the hospital with his wife Ashley and bouncing baby boy Gunner, born Saturday. Francona said Papelbon wants to make it to the park but "there is a priority with Ashley."

In the event Papelbon cannot make it, Francona may or may not have the option of turning to Daniel Bard, who threw two innings but just 17 pitches in the resumption of the suspended game. "We'll see," Francona said.

— Francona wanted Victor Martinez in the lineup against Matt Garza, who has some great numbers against Red Sox hitters, including David Ortiz. Martinez (6-for-20 career against Garza) takes the place of Ortiz (3-for-22, nine strikeouts) in the designated hitter role. [Ortiz] might not be too happy with me," the skipper said.

— Jacoby Ellsbury remains on track to return sometime this week, but the club has still not completely ruled out a retroactive DL stint. "We kinda mapped out the days," Francona said of a sit-down with Ellsbury. "[We told him] 'If we do retroactive you, this is when you would come back,' and he looked a little surprised. He was like, 'Oh I'll never be that long,' which was encouraging for us."

Ellsbury was hurt April 11.

10:38 a.m.: There is someone dressed as an orange bird making his/her way around the Monster seats right now, and two cheerleaders waving Miami Heat flags. Turns out it is Burnie, the Heat mascot, dancing around out there. Maybe just trying to get under the skin of some fans after Saturday night's little brawl. Just thought you'd like to know. Oh, and here are the lineups for Sunday's game:

Red Sox
Marco Scutaro SS
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez DH
Kevin Youkilis 1B
J.D. Drew RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jeremy Hermida LF
Jason Varitek C
Mike Cameron CF

Jason Bartlett SS
Carl Crawford LF
Ben Zobrist 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
B.J. Upton CF
Willy Aybar DH
Dioner Navarro C
Gabe Kapler RF

10:20 a.m.: Boston has released a weather advisory stating that light rain will come and go in the morning and early afternoon.

The Red Sox are slated for a 1:35 p.m. start.

Gates will open as scheduled at 11:35 a.m., but the Red Sox want to alert fans to the possibility of a rain delay.

8:30 a.m.: The Red Sox will look to snap a three-game losing streak and search for some kind of consistency when they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in a matinee at Fenway Park.

NESN will carry you through all of the action. First pitch is set for 1:35 p.m., although rain may still be in the forecast.

Jon Lester gets the start for Boston, which dropped two games at rainy Fenway on Saturday. The resumption of Friday night's suspended game resulted in a 3-1 Rays win in 12 innings. Tampa Bay won the originally scheduled contest 6-5, scoring five unearned runs on the sloppy Sox.

Matt Garza, who has lasted eight innings in each of his first two starts, is on the mound for the Rays.

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