Red Sox Fizzle in Finale of Homestand


Red Sox Fizzle in Finale of Homestand

Postgame, Mariners 4-2: Think of the difference one big bat could've made Wednesday night. Maybe someone like Adrian Beltre? Too bad he was ejected for reasons beyond comprehension.

Beltre explained after the game that he was joking with former teammate and good friend Felix Hernandez when home plate umpire Dan Bellino threw him out of the game just before the third inning began. 

Beltre and Hernandez had been talking smack for days and Bellino completely misunderstood the latest exchange.

"No, I wasn't even looking at [Bellino]," Beltre said. "Me and Felix had been texting back and forth last couple of days, talking smack. He's like my little brother. He told me he was going to strike me out, I told him I was going to take him deep, so he struck me out and after I went back to my position he was calling me and I looked at him and he said, 'That's one,' because he said he was going to strike me out three times.

"I was like, OK, next time I'm gonna take you deep."

Just then Bellino tossed Beltre, and soon thereafter threw out Terry Francona, who began to go off when second base umpire Angel Hernandez would not allow the skipper to get close for an explanation.

"You got an umpire who got a little, I don't know what the word is, got in the midst of something he didn't know," Francona said. "It shouldn't have happened. It's a shame. Beltre was just having fun with Felix."

It's a footnote to a Red Sox loss but a pretty important one given the difference Beltre could have made over the final seven innings. Instead, Boston is forced to swallow a tough setback before heading to Tampa Bay for three huge contests with the Rays.

Jon Lester goes against David Price in a marquee matchup Friday night. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. and we will be following all the action for you right here.

Final, Mariners 4-2: The Sox get the leadoff man on in the ninth but a double play helps Brandon League get through the inning in a heartbeat. Boston ends the homestand 6-3 and will head to Tampa Bay trailing the Rays by six in the loss column.

We will have the update on Daisuke Matsuzaka and everything else for you. Back in a moment.

Mid 9th, Mariners 4-2: You have to give credit for everyone who stepped up on the mound for the Red Sox. They pieced it together pretty well and have at least given their team a chance here in the ninth.

Brandon League is back out there in search of his fourth save of the season.

It's amazing to think of the difference in going quietly here in the ninth or rallying for the win, not only in the standings but also in the team psyche heading to Tampa.

Mike Lowell is hitting for Yamaico Navarro to start the bottom of the ninth.

End 8th, Mariners 4-2: Everyone in the press box assumed the Mariners would intentionally walk David Ortiz with two outs, two runners in scoring position and first base open. They did not and still survived.

Ortiz lined out to left to end the Red Sox' threat. Mike Lowell was on deck to pinch hit for Yamaico Navarro, who was hitting in Adrian Beltre's spot since Beltre was tossed in the third inning.

Bill Hall is at second base. Jed Lowrie is at first. Victor Martinez is catching. Those are your defensive changes.

One might argue that you never want to put the go-ahead run on, but Ortiz is always a threat to just park one on his own. He was 3-for-10 with a double in his career against Brandon League so it's not like the matchup was a savory one for Seattle.

9:27 p.m.: A Bill Hall pinch-hit double and a J.D. Drew walk ends the night for Felix Hernandez. Brandon League is on to face Victor Martinez with two on and one out in the eighth. This could be the game right here.

Mid 8th, Mariners 4-2: Hard to imagine but there are only 15 home games after this one. OK, maybe it's not that hard to imagine. And maybe I'm tired. Felix Doubront gets the last out of the top of the eighth. Bill Hall will hit for Kevin Cash to start the bottom half.

9:13 p.m.: With runners on first and third and two outs, DeMarlo Hale has made the call for Felix Doubront to get the last out of the eighth. The lefty may need to get all three in the ninth, too.

End 7th, Mariners 4-2: Another 1-2-3 inning for Felix Hernandez, his fifth, gets us to the eighth. Manny Delcarmen is the third Red Sox pitcher of the night.

Mid 7th, Mariners 4-2: Scott Atchison walks two in the seventh, one of them intentionally, and we press on. Felix Hernandez starts the seventh having thrown 93 pitches. He has thrown at least 110 pitches 18 times this year.

End 6th, Mariners 4-2: J.D. Drew, the quietest human being in the house, put quite a charge into Fenway Park in the sixth with a mammoth home run to center field. Drew is now 9-for-23 (.391) with two homers off Felix Hernandez.

Hernandez, meanwhile, picked up his 1,000th career strikeout later in the inning. He is the third youngest pitcher since 1952 to accomplish the feat, older than only Bert Blyleven and Dwight Gooden in that span.

Mid 6th, Mariners 4-1: What a grind. Tim Wakefield was taken out after Matt Tuiasosopo doubled in a run with two outs. Scott Atchison came on and had a little bit of an adventure before getting out of it.

Atchison struck out the No. 9 hitter, Josh Wilson, but the pitched rolled to the backstop and Wilson reached. Following a walk to Ichiro Suzuki to lead the bases, Chone Figgins struck out.

Maybe the long wait will hurt Felix Hernandez on a cold night.

End 5th, Mariners 3-1: That unearned run the Red Sox got off Felix Hernandez in the third may be all they get until he is gone from this one.

On his 75th pitch Hernandez blows away Kevin Cash to pick up his sixth strikeout and end the fifth. The M's ace has retired eight in a row and the two batters before that run of dominance reached on errors.

Mid 5th, Mariners 3-1: With Scott Atchison warming in the bullpen Tim Wakefield works around a two-out double in the fifth. Wake has already done his job but he may get another inning or so as long as he's getting outs.

End 4th, Mariners 3-1: Felix Hernandez keeps the ball from shortstop Josh Wilson and gets a 1-2-3 inning out of it. Pretty remarkable that the Red Sox have a lineup card right now with the last five names being Navarro, Nava, Lowrie, Kalish and Cash.

Mid 4th, Mariners 3-1: Tim Wakefield survives a two-out single to get through the fourth. He has thrown 63 pitches. Despite not having started for over a month, the Red Sox would love to get a couple more innings out of him.

End 3rd, Mariners 3-1: We're getting a little bit of everything in this one. First, Jon Lester is bumped to Friday. His replacement, Tim Wakefield, has throwing error that leads to a run in the first. We get two ejections in the third and now Seattle has gifted Boston with a run on two errors and a wild pitch.

Shortstop Josh Wilson has both errors. The first allows Ryan Kalish, who had doubled with one out, to reach third. A wild pitch brings in Kalish and another error by Wilson prolongs the inning.

Lost in all of that was the fact that Kalish, who had been struggling, ripped a solid double off the Green Monster in his first at-bat against Hernandez. King Felix had set down seven straight before the ringing two-bagger.

Mid 3rd, Mariners 3-0: This has the potential to be a really crushing night emotionally for the Red Sox. They are already steamed at what occurred in the top of the third. Now they face a three-run deficit against arguably the best pitcher in the American League. Plus it is cold and wet. And we've been here for 10 hours already. Ugh.

Jose Lopez has a two-run single in the third to open this one up a little bit.

On a side note, Adrian Beltre had not been ejected from a game since Aug. 24, 2002. Almost eight years to the day.

7:34 p.m.: All heck has broken loose here, all over one pitch that Adrian Beltre disagreed with. Perspective, fellas. Get some.

Beltre was punched out on what looked like a pretty good sinker in the bottom of the second. After taking the field to start the third he charged after home plate umpire Dan Bellino, who had apparently tossed him.

Beltre needed to be held back by second base umpire Angel Hernandez. Terry Francona went out to see what was wrong and in a few moments he was tossed as well.

It's the third inning of a one-run game you really need and you've lost your skipper and your best hitter in a span of seconds. Yamaico Navarro took over at third base.

End 2nd, Mariners 1-0: Adrian Beltre's first career at-bat against Felix Hernandez results in a three-pitch strikeout. Daniel Nava's lasts four pitches, but the result is the same.

Beltre has been tossed for arguing the call. More in a moment on this.

Mid 2nd, Mariners 1-0: The game in Anaheim has gone final and the Rays have fallen 12-3. As we sit here in a never-ending mist the Red Sox are five games behind Tampa Bay in the wild card race.

The pitching matchups in that series now shape up to be pretty spectacular. The opener pits Jon Lester against David Price in a battle between two All-Star lefties. Clay Buchholz goes against Matt Garza in the second game.

End 1st, Mariners 1-0: Ten pitches gets Felix Hernandez through the first in no time. Time for Tim Wakefield to start eating some innings. The bullpen needs it.

With Wakefield starting this one the Red Sox' bullpen is already one man down. Throw in the fact that Daniel Bard threw 20 pitches and Jonathan Papelbon threw 18 in the opener, and you have some serious uncertainty out there.

Papelbon said after the first game that he was unsure if he would be able to go or not. Expect the quartet of Felix Doubront, Manny Delcarmen, Scott Atchison and Michael Bowden to be used in full.

Mid 1st, Mariners 1-0: When you are facing Felix Hernandez, who has allowed exactly three runs in 22 career innings in Fenway Park, the margin for error is extremely thin. Did someone say "error"? Tim Wakefield makes one on the first play of the game and the Mariners instantly capitalize.

Fielding a comebacker by Ichiro Suzuki, Wakefield lofted the throw well over first baseman Victor Martinez's head. Ichiro went to second on the throw, coasted to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Russell Branyan's RBI groundout.

This is Wakefield's first start since July 20 at Oakland.

6:38 p.m.: The Jon Lester-Tim Wakefield-Daisuke Matsuzaka shuffle was announced after the clubhouse had closed and after Terry Francona had already addressed the media. We should have more on Matsuzaka's condition postgame.

While many of us here are lamenting the fact that we will be robbed of a Lester-Felix Hernandez matchup, there may be a silver lining to all of this, provided that Matsuzaka is OK in the long run.

Given that Dice-K is just fine and the Sox go the remainder of the season without rainouts and staying on schedule with their rotation, Lester will get to face Tampa Bay twice as opposed to just once. He is also lined up to face the Yankees once, which probably won't change.

If every single game against the Rays is as important as they seem to be, then wouldn't you rather have Lester on the mound as opposed to Matsuzaka?

A lot has to happen for the rotation to remain in order and who knows where Matsuzaka is slotted if/when he returns, but it's something to think about. Lester will be opposed by David Price on Friday night in The Trop.

Tampa Bay is getting crushed in Anaheim right now. Boston should start this one exactly five games out and could head to Florida 4 1/2 back of the Rays if it can get out of Fenway with one more win.

Here is Seattle's lineup against Wakefield:

Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chone Figgins, 2B
Russell Branyan, DH
Jose Lopez, 3B
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Adam Moore, C
Matt Tuiasosopo, LF
Josh Wilson, SS

6:03 p.m.: With a different starting pitcher on the mound than we had expected, the Red Sox also have a few changes to their starting lineup. Here is the order in support of Tim Wakefield:

Marco Scutaro, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Daniel Nava, LF
Jed Lowrie, 2B
Ryan Kalish, CF
Kevin Cash, C

5:42 p.m.: Tim Wakefield is your starter for the second game. Jon Lester has been bumped to Friday as Daisuke Matsuzaka is dealing with some lower back soreness and needs to be scratched. That's the situation and our marquee matchup under the lights is gone.

Final, Red Sox 5-3: One down, one to go. Jonathan Papelbon survives a 12-pitch battle with Casey Kotchman and works a perfect ninth to nail down the first of two games here at Fenway.

The Red Sox improve to 6-2 on the homestand. Josh Beckett gets his first win in four starts, Daniel Nava drives in a pair of runs and Jonathan Papelbon picks up his 32nd save.

We'll head down to hear from the fellas and then come back to get you prepped for the second game.

End 8th, Red Sox 5-3: The Red Sox get one insurance run on an RBI single by Darnell McDonald but run themselves out of the inning. Mike Lowell, who was on first when McDonald singled to left, chose to dash to third for some reason and was out by several feet.

Jonathan Papelbon is on in search of his 32nd save.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 4-3: J.D. Drew is 0-for-4 and his average has fallen to an uninspiring .258, but he remains solid in right. With two on and two out in the top of the eighth Drew makes a catch on the run just before the track to end a serious Mariners' threat.

The wind and mist has made it a bit tricky for some of the outfielders. Drew has battled the elements a handful of times and come out on top.

End 7th, Red Sox 4-3: This is dangerous. We saw the Red Sox blow a series of leads when they played Seattle in Safeco Field last month.

With Felix Hernandez and his 1.23 ERA at Fenway Park going in the night game these last six outs become huge. Daniel Bard is on for the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon is stirring in the pen.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Daniel Bard needs four pitches to retire two batters so he will be fresh for the eighth. Josh Beckett gives up three runs on just four hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one.

3:28 p.m.: And just like that it's a one-run game. Josh Beckett, after dominating for 6 1/3 innings, gives up a solo homer, a single and a two-run shot before being yanked in favor of Daniel Bard.

Although it comes against the weak Mariners' offensive, this has to represent a step forward for Beckett. He went five innings before hitting the wall in his last start. This time he went six-plus before that moment came. Baby step forward, I should say.

Still, a four-run lead has been cut to one. Daniel Bard is on in relief.

End 6th, Red Sox 4-0: Jamey Wright does his job by striking out Bill Hall, but the damage is done. Adrian Beltre's RBI single off David Pauley's leg started the scoring. Mike Lowell had a sacrifice fly before Daniel Nava drove in two runs with a sharp single to right.

They are working on the mound to help out Josh Beckett. Remember, he hurt his back in similar conditions at Yankee Stadium back in May.

3:13 p.m.: The Red Sox flirted with getting some runs on the board in the fourth and fifth and have unloaded here in the sixth. David Pauley is chased with two outs after giving up four runs, the last two on a single by Daniel Nava.

Nava has been replaced at first by Darnell McDonald. Jamey Wright has taken over for Pauley. The Seattle starter gave up four singles and a walk in the inning.

Mid 6th, 0-0: With a fine mist blowing across the Fenway Park landscape, Josh Beckett's run of retired hitters ends at 16 when he walks No. 9 hitter Josh Wilson with two outs in the sixth.

Beckett bounces back to strike out Ichiro Suzuki to end it. He has six strikeouts against one walk.

End 5th, 0-0: A walk and a single give the Red Sox a mini threat in the fifth but Ryan Kalish's two-out liner to left is hit right at Ryan Langerhans. Josh Beckett's turn to serve.

Mid 5th, 0-0: Josh Beckett has still faced the minimum number of batters and we are nearly far enough along to start thinking of firsts and records and all that. He has retired 14 straight since Ichiro Suzuki's single to start the game.

Teammates in 2006 and again in 2008, Beckett and David Pauley do not share a ton of history, but there was one notable day that involved both and it seems rather fitting to bring it up in the scope of Wednesday's doubleheader.

On June 11, 2006, at Fenway Park, Beckett pitched 5 1/3 innings and got a no-decision in a 5-4 Red Sox win in the first half of a doubleheader with the Rangers. In the nightcap, Pauley was rocked for six runs on 12 hits in five innings of a 13-6 loss.

Texas had 22 hits in the second game and another former Boston pitcher, John Wasdin, got the win.

Nothing like a trip down memory lane.

End 4th, 0-0: The way this one is going the Red Sox may regret a missed opportunity in the fourth. Marco Scutaro gets the club's first hit with a leadoff double, moves to third on a groundout and then is left there when Victor Martinez lines out and David Ortiz grounds to second.

Mid 4th, 0-0: Josh Beckett strikes out the side, again getting help with a ball off the corner to the left side. Seems like this isn't the first time home plate umpire Rob Drake has called such pitches strikes.

We are still waiting for the first Red Sox runner. The minimum number of batters (21) have been faced between the two starters.

End 3rd, 0-0: Ryan Kalish is not pleased with being called out at first base to end the third inning. That's how it goes, rook. David Pauley has yet to allow a man to reach.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Josh Beckett and David Pauley have both faced the minimum number of batters (15 total) so far. In addition, the one hit traveled roughly 60 feet. And we thought the runs would be hard to come by in the nightcap.

End 2nd 0-0: If you blinked you missed the bottom of the second inning. David Pauley retires David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Mike Lowell on five pitches. Looks like these teams want to get the first half of the doubleheader out of the way in a hurry.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Josh Beckett gets the benefit of a questionable third strike call in the second. A fastball at the ankles of Casey Kotchman is ruled a strike and moments later Beckett is out of the inning having thrown just 11 pitches.

End 1st, 0-0: Old pal David Pauley, who was very effective against the Red Sox when he faced them last month, mows through the top third of the lineup in the first. He did it despite seeing a foul pop just off the third-base line fall between two defenders. There is some wind out there, so it may cause some issues.

Mid 1st, 0-0: With help from a wayward Ichiro Suzuki slide the Red Sox get Josh Beckett through the first inning without any major issues.

Ichiro singled off Beckett's glove to start it off. On a grounder to second by Chone Figgins, Ichiro went into second base wide of the bag and was called out for runner's interference.

Figgins was easily safe at first but it was ruled a double play due to the wide slide.

You don't see it every day but the Sox are just fine with the call by the great Joe West. Anything to move the game along, right Joe?

12:55 p.m.: The tarp has been lifted and the field looks to be in pretty good shape. Josh Beckett is heading out for his warmup tosses. Baseball is upon us, folks.

As for Beckett, much has been made of the three straight difficult starts. The Red Sox are still hopeful that the five solid innings he had to start his previous outing are an indication of things to come, rather than an aberration.

"The last game his stuff was real good," Terry Francona said. "Then he made four mistakes and it was boom, boom, boom, boom."

Francona said that Beckett has certainly missed with his location of late, notably with the fastball, but he also is due for a break or two.

"Sometimes you need that, you need a lineout sometimes," the skipper said. "That's why if you're consistent over the course of the year…the numbers will end up where they're supposed to."

Beckett comes into this one 3-3 with a 6.67 ERA so the numbers will not ever be what he and the team had expected. But if he gives enough down the stretch to help the Sox climb past one of the two teams in front of them, that's all that matters.

With Felix Hernandez going in the nightcap for Seattle, Beckett's effort in the matinee becomes that much more critical.

12:05 p.m.: The rain has pretty much come to an end and it has brightened up significantly here at Fenway. There is a chance we get this thing going on time, which would satisfy everyone.

Terry Francona had a brief meeting with reporters moments ago. He said he will not be treating this game like an early-season doubleheader in which he would be inclined to play many players in order to get everyone at-bats — the Sox simply need wins and he'll put out the best lineup he can for both games.

"You'll see some changes but you'll also see a lot of guys play both games," Francona said.

That will apply to the catcher position, which could be manned by Victor Martinez in both games. Kevin Cash is available but Francona will wait to see how the first game goes before making any decisions on that end.

The same applies for the use of the bullpen. Francona will go for the win at all costs if he is in the lead, regardless of the fact that he has a second game to worry about hours later. He'll cross that bridge when he comes to it.

"If you're in the lead you try to win," he said. "Win games you can win. If we have a chance to win the first game we'll try to win. We'll figure out the second one."

Makes sense. At least we know the bullpen is extremely rested after John Lackey's eight innings Monday and a rainout Tuesday.

Here is the Seattle lineup for the first game:

Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chone Figgins, 2B
Russell Branyan, DH
Jose Lopez, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Josh Bard, C
Ryan Langerhans, LF
Josh Wilson, SS

10:55 a.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where it looks about the same as it has for the past 24 hours, maybe worse. But dry conditions are due to arrive around noon so we expect to play some baseball soon thereafter.

Team officials have released a statement saying that the gates will still open at 11:35 p.m. and that the first pitch is still on for 1:35 p.m. Cross your fingers.

The Red Sox have the same lineup they had before the rainout Tuesday night. For those who did not commit it to memory, here it is:

Marco Scutaro, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mike Lowell, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Bill Hall, 2B
Ryan Kalish, CF

8 a.m.: Rain, rain go away.

Unfortunately, that might not be the case until late Wednesday. Before then, the Red Sox and Seattle Mariners will attempt to get in a day-night doubleheader.

The originally scheduled matchup Tuesday night was a washout, the first of its kind for Boston all season, home or away.

Josh Beckett will try to break out of his funk in the 1:35 p.m. matinee. He will be opposed by former Red Sox pitcher David Pauley.

The evening affair features a doozy of a pitching matchup. Jon Lester, coming off the worst start of his career, goes against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. First pitch of that one will be 7:10 p.m.


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