The Red Sox offense, which posted 15 runs in the first two games of the series, completely fell asleep on Thursday night at Fenway, allowing C.J. Wilson and the Rangers to salvage Game 3 of the series.
Youkilis leads off with a groundout to third before Victor Martinez gives Boston some hope, registering his second hit of the game with yet another long single that winds up in almost the same exact place his first did. Mike Lowell quickly falls into an 0-2 hole, then ends the game with a double play.
Middle 9th, 3-0 Rangers: Scott Schoeneweis makes quick work of the Rangers in the ninth.
Schoeneweis strikes out leadoff man Chris Davis, bringing up Taylor Teagarden for what is likely to be the final time tonight. Will he who boasts the most hitless at-bats of any MLB player finally get a hit? (Asks a Texas writer: "Is Teagarden up?" Quickly followed by a facepalm.)
And … no. He flies out to right. The epic disaster continues for him. Andres Blanco flies up to bring up the bottom of the ninth. Cue "Lose Yourself."
End 8th, 3-0 Rangers: The offense rests. Still.
Bill Hall attempts to lay down a first-pitch bunt to lead things off, but it dribbles foul, and back to the plate he goes. After getting down 0-2 and working the count back to 2-2, Hall lines a single off Darren O'Day's arm to reach. Whatever you can do, I guess.
But O'Day is a warrior and stays in the game. (It must have hit more of his glove than his arm.) He induces Marco Scutaro into a long flyout to center, and his night is over. Darren Oliver is next in line.
His first victim? J.D. Drew (who is now batting .148, yikes). Dustin Pedroia whiffs to end the eighth.
Scutaro has quietly been pretty productive for Boston, reaching base in 12 of 15 games (prior to Wednesday's) and hitting safely in 10 games.
Middle 8th, 3-0 Rangers: Elvis Andrus rockets a leadoff double into the left-field corner off Ramirez. Michael Young quickly grounds out to second, and that's it for Ramon. He's pulled in favor of Scott Schoeneweis.
Schoeneweis boasts an opponents' batting average of .217.
He gets Josh Hamilton to line out to Youkilis, and after intentionally walking Nelson Cruz (and after Cruz takes second with no throw, again, from Martinez), David Murphy pops out to short.
End 7th, 3-0 Rangers: The Red Sox manage to chase C.J. Wilson, but as for putting runs on the board? Not so much.
Kevin Youkilis leads off with a groundout, then Victor Martinez gets Boston its third hit with a long, long one-out single that takes a hard carom off the wall in the left-field corner.
Mike Lowell falls to 0-for-3 on the night, popping out to second, but Adrian Beltre keeps the inning going with a single to right — and with men on first and second, Ron Washington comes out to retrieve Wilson. His final line: 6 2/3 innings, 105 pitches, four hits, zero runs, two walks, two K's. Pretty good for a guy who has yet to win as a starter.
Wilson is replaced by Darren O'Day, who has worked 5.0 scoreless innings in six appearances in 2010. The crowd gets on its feet for DMcD, but he grounds out to Michael Young to kill the rally (and Young makes a pretty perfect throw across the diamond, too).
C.J. Wilson outpitched Buchholz tonight, but the Boston offense didn't do anything to help the cause. This was easily Buchholz's strongest pitching performance of the season — granted, he's only had three starts — but he was untouchable for six innings before running into a couple hiccups in the seventh. Yes, he's responsible for one of the ugly errors that led to his exit, but still his best performance yet, and one that could have earned him the W if the offense had been able to come alive a little bit.
Middle 7th, 3-0 Rangers: The bad news? Rangers strike first in yet another very ugly defensive inning for Boston. The good news? Clay Buchholz establishes a new career high in strikeouts.
Josh Hamilton attempts to put that slump to rest, registering Texas' third hit with a leadoff double. He comes around on a single by Nelson Cruz to put the first run of the night on the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, the base-stealing woes continue for Victor Martinez; Cruz steals second without so much as a throw. It's his fourth of the year.
David Murphy brings home Cruz with a double to the wall in left-center, and then Kevin Youkilis just barely makes the first out, initially losing his handle on a sharp grounder by Chris Davis but tossing it to Buchholz just in time to beat Davis to the bag. Buchholz strikes out Taylor Teagarden (shocker!) for his 10th of the night, a career high, but the good times are short-lived.
Let the circus begin: Buchholz badly mishandles an Andres Blanco dribbler up the first baseline, airmailing it halfway into right. When J.D. Drew finally tracks it down, Blanco is at second — but Adrian Beltre boots the throw, which dribbles out toward left field, allowing Blanco to take third. Two errors on the play, and that's it for Buchholz. Six and 2/3 innings, 114 pitches, six hits, three runs, 10 strikeouts.
Ramon Ramirez replaces Buchholz and gets Julio Borbon to line out to end the frame. And the boo birds emerge at Fenway.
End 6th: The Red Sox finally get their second hit of the game, but they can't get anything going.
Bill Hall quickly flies out to center to lead things off, and Marco Scutaro grounds out to third to give C.J. Wilson two very quick outs.
J.D. Drew finally makes something happen for this offense, grounding one straight up the middle for a two-out single. But Dustin Pedroia grounds out to Wilson to kill the rally, and the unlikely pitcher's duel resumes.
Middle 6th: Julio Borbon becomes Buchholz's eighth strikeout victim, and Elvis Andrus quickly becomes the ninth, fanning on three pitches. Michael Young grounds out to second to give Buchholz another quick inning.
In his only start against Texas in 2009, Buchholz allowed three runs in 4.0 innings, taking the 3-1 loss on July 22. (He also had that epic pinch-running fiasco against the Rangers, which I try to mention every opportunity I can.)
End 5th: Victor Martinez draws a leadoff walk, and once again, Mike Lowell gets a rousing ovation out of the crowd as he steps in, but then he flies out to right. Adrian Beltre flies out to center, then Darnell McDonald — drawing the only ovation that can come close to matching Lowell's, for obvious reasons — sends a sharp liner to second to end the inning.
Lowell is riding a 10-game hitting streak dating back to Sept. 24, 2009, and during that span, he's hitting .333. It is the longest active streak on the Red Sox currently.
Middle 5th: Chris Davis leads things off by giving Clay Buchholz his seventh strikeout of the evening, and Taylor Teagarden remains hitless, grounding out to Marco Scutaro, who makes the long throw to Youkilis. Andres Blanco quickly ends the inning by flying out to Bill Hall in left.
That's two hits on 79 pitches through five innings for Buchholz.
Buchholz's career high in strikeouts is nine, which he's achieved three times — the last of which was on Aug. 29, 2009 against Toronto.
End 4th: Down go the Red Sox. J.D. Drew falls hitless in four at-bats against Wilson, as he grounds out to second to lead things off. Dustin Pedroia grounds out to short but hauls it to first and almost beats the throw, and then Kevin Youkilis grounds out to short.
That's 63 pitches through four for C.J. Wilson. He's allowed one hit.
Wilson's road ERA (4.50) is over a half-run higher than his home ERA of 3.98. Doesn't seem to be an issue at Fenway tonight … yet.
Middle 4th: Josh Hamilton rockets a first-pitch flyout to right, which is run down by J.D. Drew. Nelson Cruz sends a sinking liner to the same place, but it falls in front of a diving DMcD for a one-out single.
David Murphy works a full count — amidst many throws over to first, where Cruz has proven to be a major distraction — before grounding into a double play to end the inning.
Buchholz has now thrown 67 pitches and, as long as I don't jinx it, is likely headed for his first quality start of 2010.
End 3rd: Clay Buchholz is cruising, but so is C.J. Wilson.
Adrian Beltre leads off, boasting the best average among all Red Sox against Wilson. In 10 at-bats, he has four hits, one home run and two RBIs for a .400 average.
Unfortunately, he did not improve on those statistics in his first at-bat of the evening. Beltre nearly gets a pitch to the back on a 1-2 count before foul-tipping into Teagarden's glove for the out.
Darnell McDonald draws a walk in his first-ever at-bat against Wilson, and Bill Hall — also facing Wilson for the first time — foul-tips for the second out. Marco Scutaro sends a grounder to Elvis Andrus, who bobbles it but still manages to get Scutaro at first.
The lines of the two pitchers are nearly identical through three — Buchholz has thrown 52 pitches to Wilson's 50 and has six K's to Wilson's two, but other than that, they've both allowed one hit and walked one.
Interesting that prior to April 8 — Texas' third game of the season — the 29-year-old Wilson had made 247 straight relief appearances. He won the starter's job out of spring training this year.
Middle 3rd: The Rangers go down, 1-2-3. Julio Borbon works Clay Buchholz to a 3-2 count before flying way, way out to the 420 mark in center field, where Darnell McDonald chases it down — what looked like an impossible task when the ball came off the bat.
Elvis Andrus begins his at-bat by whiffing at a pitch that was possibly neck-high, and fittingly, ends the at-bat by failing to hold up on an equally atrocious offering. Michael Young gives Buchholz his sixth K, ending the inning.
End 2nd: Victor Martinez grounds into a double play, and Mike Lowell comes up to bat with two outs and gets the loudest ovation of the night. It sounded like Manny Ramirez was back in Boston for a second.
But alas, he grounds out to short to end the inning. C.J. Wilson has thrown 24 pitches through two.
Remember when Boston was trying to strike a deal with Texas to acquire one of their young catchers (before the Victor Martinez situation came about)? Well, one of them (Jarrod Saltalamacchia) is on the DL, and the other — Taylor Teagarden — is hitless thus far in 2010. Rumblings from the Texas media contingent hint that he's become a bit of a punchline in this lineup. (Case in point: One Rangers media member returned from a bathroom break and immediately said, "What did I miss, besides a Taylor Teagarden strikeout?")
Middle 2nd: After a quick first inning, it takes Clay Buchholz considerably longer to get through the second.
Nelson Cruz whiffs to begin the frame, then former Red Sox David Murphy gets the first hit of the night, lining a one-out single between Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia. Buchholz almost picks him off with a close throw to first, but no cigar. Murphy continues to agitate Buchholz throughout Chris Davis' at-bat. Davis eventually squeezes out a walk and with men on first and second and one out, catcher Taylor Teagarden gives Buchholz his second strikeout of the inning (four overall). Andres Blanco grounds out to short to end the inning.
End 1st: Quick and easy first for both pitchers. Marco Scutaro leads things off for Boston tonight, beginning the evening by fouling a pitch off his foot to give C.J. Wilson an 0-2 count and then lining out to Elvis Andrus at shortstop. J.D. Drew grounds out to Andrus two pitches into his at-bat, and then Dustin Pedroia grounds out to second to end the frame.
Wilson is still seeking his first-ever win as a starting pitcher. He's currently 0-6 with an 8.31 ERA in eight starts.
Middle 1st: Clay Buchholz starts strong, notching two early K's. He begins by striking out Elvis Andrus on three pitches. Michael Young grounds out to Pedroia, and then the slumping Josh Hamilton (.250 BA, seven RBIs) whiffs to end the frame.
6:54 p.m.: Skies are looking a bit ominous, but we're still set to get things underway on time.
Fun fact: Wednesday's walkoff victory gave Boston its first series win against the Rangers since Sept. 5-7, 2008. If Boston can sweep the series, it would be their first against Texas since Aug. 12-14, 2008.
5:50 p.m.: Tarp's still out there, but the rain has stopped. I think we're expecting intermittent thundershowers all night; hopefully, it doesn't hold things up too much. For now, the sky looks pretty clear.
The Rangers are out there warming up, and hopefully, we get started on time.
5:34 p.m.: Tito had some thoughts on Victor Martinez's early struggles with throwing runners out, telling the media that it hasn't done anything to shake Martinez's confidence.
"An interesting thing was when we won that game [on Tuesday], he's out there jumping on that pile," Francona said. "That was a tough game for everybody, and that said a lot."
"There's a genuine excitement and a care for trying to lead our staff," Francona said. "We all believe that. Sometimes, you have to be patient."
Martinez is back in the lineup tonight, batting fifth.
5:11 p.m.: Manager Terry Francona touched upon the struggles of the starting pitching rotation during his pregame presser, saying that he doesn't think it's one thing that's plaguing the starters — it's something different every night.
"Uncharacteristically, we've walked more guys than we certainly are comfortable with," Francona said. "We've got these teams that are trying to put pressure on us running the bases, and we're giving up hits and walks at a high rate — we're not making it easy on anybody."
The pressure is on Clay Buchholz, who's starting tonight — but Daisuke Matsuzaka is breathing down his neck for that spot in the rotation. Francona said conclusively that he will not go to a six-man rotation, so who's going to be the odd man out? We'll soon find out.
4:48 p.m.: The tarp is on the field at Fenway because of some sudden thundershowers that rudely interrupted Boston's BP session.
Lineups are in, though, and once again, Mike Lowell is DHing while David Ortiz sits this one out. When asked about it during his pregame press conference, Terry Francona said, "If we play David, the guy who hit a homer last night wouldn't play." Fair enough.
For the Rangers:
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Michael Young
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Nelson Cruz
RF David Murphy
1B Chris Davis
C Taylor Teagarden
2B Andres Blanco
CF Julio Borbon
For the Red Sox:
SS Marco Scutaro
RF J.D. Drew
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Kevin Youkilis
C Victor Martinez
DH Mike Lowell
3B Adrian Beltre
CF Darnell McDonald
LF Bill Hall
8 a.m.: Can they make it a three-peat?
Boston successfully ended a five-game losing skid with two straight walk-off wins against the Rangers — the first on a Darnell McDonald wall-ball, and the second on a Kevin Youkilis wall-ball. It was certainly an exciting night in Boston, as across town, the Bruins sent Buffalo packing with a 3-2 double-overtime win to take a 3-1 advantage in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.
The B's have the night off, but the Red Sox will try to earn the sweep against the Rangers at Fenway. Clay Buchholz (1-1, 1.80 ERA) will make his third start of the season against C.J. Wilson (0-1, 2.08 ERA). Buchholz is coming off an outing against the Rays in which he allowed four runs (all unearned) over five innings. Wilson, meanwhile, is hoping to maintain some effectiveness despite being pushed back two days because of food poisoning.
First pitch is at 7:10 p.m., but check back throughout the day for updates.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP