Postgame, Red Sox 6-1: The news on Victor Martinez after the Red Sox' latest win is encouraging. X-rays were negative on his left big toe, but he said he is very sore and we will have to see how he feels upon waking up Tuesday morning.
Also, Terry Francona confirmed what we all thought would occur. Darnell McDonald will be the odd man out when Mike Cameron returns from the DL on Tuesday. Francona said he hopes for the team's sake that McDonald clears waivers so the Sox can keep him, but added that with the way he played he deserves to be on a major league roster.
When the dust settles and Boston takes the field Tuesday it will be sporting its best record of the season, will have its best pitcher on the mound and for the first time since early April will have a complete lineup at its disposal.
Jon Lester opposes James Shields in Tuesday's matchup. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.
Final, Red Sox 6-1: That's just about how you draw it up. The Red Sox get six dominant innings from Clay Buchholz, perfect relief and enough offense to feel comfortable throughout. It is their sixth win in seven games and pulls the club within 7 1/2 games of the Rays in the American League East.
Boston outhits the potent Tampa Bay squad 12-6, chasing promising righty Wade Davis before the fourth inning ended. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis homered.
Clay Buchholz improves to 6-3 and the Sox are a season-high four games above .500.
We will be back to wrap up Boston's first win in five tries against Tampa Bay this season.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 6-1: Dustin Pedroia entered hitless in 19 at bats but has three hits on the night. He is stranded after a double in the ninth. Daniel Bard will come on to try to finish this one up.
End 8th, Red Sox 6-1: Six up, six down against Hideki Okajima and the Sox will take a five-run lead into the ninth. With Jon Lester on the mound Tuesday this hot stretch could really become something significant for Boston, which could move into third place before the series is out.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-1: Marco Scutaro has hit into two inning-ending double plays in this one. Hideki Okajima starts the seventh but Daniel Bard is up in the pen.
End 7th, Red Sox 6-1: Hideki Okajima was being used at a rapid rate early in the season and his ERA began to suffer. He just worked a perfect seventh in his first appearance since May 18.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 6-1: The Red Sox' bats have cooled off a bit and you cannot put this one in the win column just yet. The Rays have 14 come-from-behind wins, six when trailing after six innings and three in their last at bat.
Also, Tampa Bay will not have to face Clay Buchholz anymore. He is done after allowing a run on six hits while striking out eight in six innings.
End 6th, Red Sox 6-1: Clay Buchholz has his second 1-2-3 inning and is now done after six solid. Hideki Okajima was warming in the pen and could use the work.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 6-1: Clay Buchholz has tossed 96 pitches as he heads out to start the sixth inning. The Red Sox bullpen is extremely rested so if this is his last inning they are well-prepared to eat up the final few frames.
This is just one of four games being played in the major leagues tonight. Should the Sox hang on they would move to within 7 1/2 of the first-place Rays in the American League East and within two of the struggling Yankees, who currently lead the wild card race.
End 5th, Red Sox 6-1: The official word on Victor Martinez is that he suffered a contusion of the left big toe on that foul ball back in the second.
Clay Buchholz, now working just as well with Jason Varitek, strands a runner at third with a strikeout — his eighth — of Ben Zobrist to end the fifth.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 6-1: The Sox are kept off the board for the first time since the second inning when Marco Scutaro grounds into a double play to end the fifth.
End 4th, Red Sox 6-1: A Carlos Pena solo shot gets the Rays on the board in the fourth. Clay Buchholz battles back to record his sixth strikeout and end the inning.
Here are a few more Kevin Youkilis numbers, reflecting his effort so far tonight:
- Youkilis has reached safely in 23 straight games in which he has had a plate appearance, hitting .370 (27-for-73) in that stretch.
- He has seven home runs, 17 RBIs and 26 walks during the hot streak.
- The first baseman's 25 walks in the month of May are tied for the third most for a Red Sox player for one month since 1952. Carl Yastrzemski (30 in 1970) and Wade Boggs (28 in 1988) stand ahead of him.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 6-0: Multiple players just went to give a high-five to Kevin Youkilis and immediately ran their hand under cold water. He's that hot.
OK, that was corny, but you get the point. There may be no hitter in baseball as locked in as Youkilis is. He greets Lance Cormier with a two-run homer to left, his fifth round-tripper in eight games.
8:41 p.m.: A Jason Varitek single with two outs in the fourth has chased Wade Davis. It is the shortest start of the year for the 24-year-old. Lance Cormier is on in relief.
End 3rd, Red Sox 4-0: It's hard to remember, but Clay Buchholz gave up six runs — five earned — in the last three innings of his start against the Yankees back on May 8. Since then he allowed just three runs in 17 1/3 innings against some pretty good competition.
Buchholz has five strikeouts through the first three innings. He fanned Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria to finish the third.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 4-0: Victor Martinez took a foul ball off his left leg in the bottom of the second and is removed after drawing a walk during the Red Sox' three-run third. He was limping quite a bit just trying to get to first.
Jason Varitek takes over behind the plate. There has been so much talk of late of Martinez and Varitek and whether either are personal catchers to anyone on the staff. Well, Martinez has caught every inning from Buchholz this year and his ERA in his career with Victor behind the plate (3.92) is significantly better than it is when pitching to Varitek (5.59).
Of course, much of those pairings with Varitek occured during Buchholz's difficult 2008 season.
Anyway, back to matters at hand. Martinez's walk was followed by another to Kevin Youkilis to load the bases with one out. David Ortiz popped to shortstop Jason Bartlett, but J.D. Drew walked another to force in Dustin Pedroia, who singled to start the rally. Adrian Beltre followed with a chopper that third baseman Evan Longoria could not quite handle, allowing another run to score.
Jeremy Hermida then hit the only hard ball of the inning by lining one into left to drive in Youkilis.
Pedroia was fortunate he wasn't the second out of the inning. His foul pop that was caught by catcher John Jaso is ruled a dead ball after it hits something hanging from the roof at Tropicana Field, reminding us of the team's struggle to get a new ballpark built.
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: We know batting average is just one of many measurements in defining a player's ability and value these days, but the simultaneous drops in average for Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton since 2007 are rather alarming, especially considering they are meant to be middle-of-the-order guys for the best team in baseball.
Pena's numbers in that category have gone from .282 in 2007, to .247 in 2008, .227 in 2009 and .187 this year.
Upton's decline: .300, .273, .241, .213.
That was before Pena walked and Upton singled with one out in the second, Upton moving to second on the throw. But Clay Buchholz struck out Reid Brignac and Jason Bartlett to strand the pair, the second straight inning Buchholz has escaped trouble.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: It was a first-pitch fastball on the inside corner from Wade Davis that David Ortiz hammered down the line in right for his eighth home run in 58 at bats this month.
An inside fastball resulted in nothing more than a swinging strike for Ortiz about a month ago. Not only has he turned the corner, he is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now.
End 1st, 0-0: It takes almost no time at all for the Rays' running game, or at least the threat of it, to assert itself. With Carl Crawford on first base with a one-out single, Clay Buchholz slows to a crawl and then allows back-to-back hits to load the bases.
But Buchholz gets catcher John Jaso to ground to shortstop Marco Scutaro to start an inning-ending double play.
Just to remind everyone, Crawford has swiped 31 consecutive bases against the Red Sox since Sept. 21, 2005, and the Rays have stolen 43-of-47 when facing Boston over the last 23 games.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The one positive from the top of the first inning is Dustin Pedroia snapping an 0-for-19 slide with a single up the middle. But back-to-back force outs at second get Wade Davis around the hit.
7:06 p.m.: The Red Sox are 4-15 in their last 19 games at Tropicana Field as they prepare to take on the Rays in just a few minutes.
As mentioned earlier, the Sox have perhaps their most complete lineup in well over a month with Jacoby Ellsbury back and the designated hitter at their disposal.
Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis has been a bit more hittable of late, as well. Perhaps we will see the bats come alive again.
6:10 p.m.: Terry Francona just told reporters that the club expects to activate center fielder Mike Cameron on Tuesday. For now, they have welcomed back Scott Atchison to provide some pitching depth for a night and said goodbye to infielder Angel Sanchez.
Francona said that he liked having Sanchez on his bench in a National League park and with the way the starters were throwing he didn't need much bullpen depth. Entering the Trop, that all changes.
Atchison, who was sent down near the end of April, had a 1.64 ERA in eight outings for Pawtucket.
5:45 p.m.: While the Red Sox showcase perhaps their most complete lineup in well over a month with both Jacoby Ellsbury and a designated hitter in the starting nine, the Rays have jumbled things up in the hopes of kick-starting a pair of their stars. Here are the lineups and a quick analysis.
4:58 p.m.: After taking care of business against the best the National League has to offer, the Red Sox' grueling late-May slate now pits them against the American League elites, starting Monday when they travel south to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series.
The Sox have gone 20-12 since dropping four straight to the Rays at Fenway Park early in the season, but have been unable to gain any ground on the AL East leaders, who have been even better. Boston enters the series 8 1/2 back in the division.
However, as some of the Red Sox players alluded to following Sunday's 8-3 win in Philadelphia, they are a different team than the one the Rays knocked around in Boston to the tune of a collective 24-9 margin.
Some of that difference lies in the recent resurgence of the starting pitching. Four of the last five starts have lasted at least eight innings, a stretch that started with Clay Buchholz dominating the Minnesota Twins on a blustery night at Fenway last Wednesday.
Buchholz will seek an encore performance at the Trop when he takes the mound opposite Wade Davis, like Buchholz a promising young righty.
First pitch is 7:10 p.m. and we will follow all the action for you right here.