Postgame, Red Sox 4-3: As the Red Sox' annual Picnic in the Park takes place below us, we reflect on two straight walk-off wins which have propelled the Sox into a four-game series with Cleveland on a positive note.
There is plenty to touch on after a series which saw plenty of drama on the field and some more off of it. Perhaps we can just let the guys do the talking, starting with Jonathan Papelbon on his encounter with Miguel Cabrera.
"Fastball in. He was probably looking in there more than I was expecting. Right now he's a triple crown hitter and he's hitting pitchers' pitches. Not much you can do about it.
On blowing the save: "It's obviously my job and Clay's been one of our best pitchers this year. Obviously as a closer you want to protect those wins for your starters and you take pride in it. Obviously I wasn't able to do that today."
Victor Martinez on Clay Buchholz: "Everything. Everything was working. He has such great stuff, it's a lot of fun to be catching for him than to be facing him."
Martinez on Papelbon: "He made a great pitch to Cabrera. The guy's hitting .350 for a reason. Leads the major leagues in RBI. I guess he was looking for the pitch because he was right on the pitch and then Peralta hit the ground ball with eyes. He threw the ball good. What else can you do?"
Terry Francona on the bunt by Marco Scutaro: "We got a bunt down and when you get something down good things can happen. They're in a tough spot there. They will have to either walk somebody, and the icing on the cake was they threw it away."
Jed Lowrie, who factored into the game-winning rally for the second straight day: "One of the most exciting parts about playing pro ball is that walk-off hit, running on the field and chasing down your teammates. Those are the moments we play for."
One last item. Victor Martinez's little boy asked Dustin Pedroia when he will be playing again. After some back and forth Pedroia told him the following: "When you see balls on the freeway you know I'm back."
With that we turn our attention to Cleveland, which will be in for four straight night games prior to the Red Sox' next 10-game road trip. The opener pits John Lackey against Fausto Carmona.
Final, Red Sox 4-3: Enough drama for you this weekend? I would think the last two days alone would suffice for a season. The Sox get the winning run in the ninth on a throwing error by Tigers reliever Robbie Weinhardt on Marco Scutaro's sacrifice bunt attempt.
We get David Ortiz's grand slam that brings the Sox within one on Friday night, the Ortiz walk-off three-run double Saturday and a mess of an inning by the Tigers to allow Boston to take two of three.
We'll be back in a bit with reaction.
4:21 p.m.: An infield single by Jed Lowrie and a walk to Eric Patterson (pretty tiny strike zone there) have put the first two on in the bottom of the ninth. Robbie Weinhardt is taking over for the Tigers.
Darnell McDonald, who was scratched from the starting lineup with a sore back, is pinch running for Lowrie and represents the only run that matters at second base.
Mid 9th, 3-3: A 5-4-3 double play stops the bleeding. It took five pitches for Jonathan Papelbon to give that up after Clay Buchholz threw 108. Two of the runs are charged to Buchholz, of course.
The Sox have Jed Lowrie, Eric Patterson and then the top of the order coming up. Figures it has to come down to the bottom of the ninth.
4:10 p.m.: And we are tied. Jhonny Peralta's single brings in pinch runner Don Kelly and Fenway is stunned, as is Clay Buchholz, I'm sure.
4:08 p.m.: We mentioned how scared we were to see Miguel Cabrera up representing the tying run. He misses tying it by a few feet, but has drawn the Tigers within a run with two-run double to center. One pitch by Jonathan Papelbon has altered this thing dramatically.
4:04 p.m.: A nice round for Clay Buchholz after he goes eight scoreless. But there's still work to be done to make it count. Buchholz gives up an infield single and a walk to start the ninth and Jonathan Papelbon is on to get the last three outs. Unfortunately, Miguel Cabrera is up representing the tying run. Yikes.
End 8th, Red Sox 3-0: Jonathan Papelbon is throwing in the bullpen, just in case. Clay Buchholz heads back out there having thrown 97 pitches.
It was against Minnesota here back in May that Buchholz was sent out in the ninth inning to finish what would've been a complete game. But after giving up a leadoff single he was removed.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-0: Grounder to second. Grounder to third. Grounder to second. Clay Buchholz is making quick work of the Tigers. He has allowed just one hit since the first inning.
Brad Thomas has taken over for Justin Verlander.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-0: If the wind wasn't blowing in at a pretty good speed we might be talking about a 4-0 game here. J.D. Drew crushed one to right that died a few feet before the warning track.
Justin Verlander was going to need a quick inning to get through the seventh without being replaced. With the help of that wind, and a great running catch by center fielder Austin Jackson, he needs only nine pitches to retire the side. At 122 for the game, he might be done.
Daniel Bard is warming in the Red Sox bullpen.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-0: Clay Buchholz has tossed three complete games in his career and has two shutouts, one of which I imagine you remember from 2007. He has a good shot at both after finishing the top of the seventh with just 90 pitches thrown.
Justin Verlander is out to start the seventh for the Tigers but there is action in the Detroit bullpen.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-0: Justin Verlander has often carried this reputation as a guy that gets stronger as the game goes on. He's doing nothing to hurt that reputation in this one.
Verlander struck out two more in the sixth (eight total) and has set down 10 in a row. His ERA is 7.29 in the first inning (entering Sunday) but gets no higher than 4.50 until the eighth.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-0: Clay Buchholz's scoreless streak is now at 10 straight innings after he works around a one-out walk in the sixth. By striking out Ryan Raburn to finish the frame he not only picks up his fifth K but gets to face Miguel Cabrera in the seventh with nobody on.
Buchholz has needed just 82 pitches thus far.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-0: David Ortiz has now struck out 26 times in a streak of 15 straight games with at least one K. Yet, in that same span, he has four home runs and 14 RBIs, and we all know what he has done in late-game situations this weekend. All or nothing for the big fella.
Very quietly, Justin Verlander has settled down. He has retired seven straight.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-0: Jhonny Peralta's double with one out in the fifth gives the Tigers their first runner in scoring position. It doesn't mean much after Kevin Youkilis makes a pretty stab of a soft liner to first and Clay Buchholz gets the last out on a grounder to short.
End 4th, Red Sox 3-0: After a delay to restart the computer I'm here to tell you that the Sox did nothing in the fourth. It was Justin Verlander's first 1-2-3 inning.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Since giving up a single to Ryan Raburn with two outs in the first, Clay Buchholz has faced the minimum while striking out four. To update our earlier post he has now gone eight innings without giving up a run, yielding only two singles.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Rough afternoon so far for Justin Verlander. With two on and nobody out in the bottom of the third he throws an 0-2 breaking ball well off the plate that Adrian Beltre somehow pokes into right field to score the first run of third.
The Sox get another when Ryan Kalish drives in David Ortiz with a fly to center.
Every Boston starter but Victor Martinez has been on base. Verlander has thrown 75 pitches.
You have to wonder who is available for the Tigers in their bullpen. Closer Jose Valverde is not as he threw 60 pitches Friday night. Ryan Perry threw 37 on Saturday and Phil Coke threw 22 more. Not a lot of options down there for Jim Leyland.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: After Clay Buchholz had a rocky return from the disabled list out in Oakland, we heard the term "shake off the rust" a lot. He just needed to get going. That rust carried over a bit into his second start back in Anaheim, but there is no sign of it anymore.
In his first seven innings after coming off the DL, Buchholz allowed six runs on 10 hits while walking four and striking out three.
After the rust was shaken off, he has gone seven scoreless while yielding only two hits, walking one and striking out nine.
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Not to take anything away from the Red Sox, but three of their four hits so far could've been outs. An infield single by Adrian Beltre that saw second baseman Will Rhymes struggle to get a grip on the ball starts the second, and Eric Patterson's single to left that went off Ryan Raburn's wrist leads to the first run of the game.
Throw in the pop to short off the bat of Marco Scutaro in the first that was lost in the sun and you have three tough hits for Justin Verlander to deal with.
The one truly sharp single was struck by Jed Lowrie, who continues to sprinkle in timely hits. It pushed Beltre to third with one out in the inning.
Verlander does have four strikeouts already.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: J.D. Drew's running, slidiung catch near Pesky Pole was the highlight of the top of the second inning. No hamstring issues there. Clay Buchholz then picked up his second strikeout and got Jeff Frazier on a grounder to Adrian Beltre, whose low throw was scooped nicely by Kevin Youkilis.
End 1st, 0-0: The elements were about the only thing that got to Justin Verlander in the first. Marco Scutaro reached with a "single" after a pop to short was lost in the sun by Ramon Santiago. Verlander then issued a walk to J.D. Drew but blew away both Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz (on a 98 mph fastball) to help escape the jam.
Adrian Beltre struggled with a foul pop in the top of the first and Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson was battling the sun on the last out of the bottom half.
The big yellow star should remain an issue for a few innings, at least. Speaking of yellow.
Mid 1st, 0-0: There was plenty of buzz surrounding Miguel Cabrera's mammoth home run off Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday. Cabrera makes for much-watch baseball when he's up. Clay Buchholz got the best of him in a big matchup early in this one.
With a man on first and two outs, Buchholz blew a 96 mph fastball by the Tigers slugger. Cabrera represents the one major obstacle in this lineup without Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge.
1:23 p.m.: It was a pretty light clubhouse on the Red Sox side before Sunday's game. That's what a walk-off win and the passage of the trade deadline can bring.
We saw Terry Francona giving Victor Martinez's kid a wedgie. There was Dustin Pedroia joshing with reporters about who the best second baseman in the game was. We witnessed the volume on ESPN get turned way up when a Chad Ochocinco-Terrell Owens interview was played.
And at his locker with headphones on Clay Buchholz continuously tossed a ball up in the air and caught it, like you would as a kid in bed. After a few minutes of this one sailed far behind his head, bounced off a pillar and then a locker and rolled away.
Let's hope his performance on the mound is a bit sharper.
He'll have to be good if Justin Verlander is on his game. The Tigers' ace has lasted eight innings in each of his last two starts and has given up three runs or fewer in five straight. In his previous start here last August, Verlander allowed four hits and struck out eight in eight scoreless innings.
12:25 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-4 in his first game with Pawtucket on Saturday. He will play the outfield again Sunday and then get reevaluated, but an activation may not necessarily be imminent.
"We're trying to get the soreness out of his body in Triple-A and not here," Terry Francona sai.
The Sox skipper said Ellsbury's strength is not what it was before all the injuries. No surprise there. But the tone in Francona's voice seemed to suggest there may be a few days before he can be ready to handle the workload again with the big club.
As for the Mike Lowell situation, here is the explanation in Francona's words:
"We were gonna activate him and then there was some conversation that was probably up the food chain from me a little bit that needs to continue to happen. Mikey's not active today and those conversations I know will continue to happen."
Perhaps there will be something to report a little later on. Lowell was part of the regular pregame routine and remains DL'd.
Lastly, Francona shared some thoughts on Miguel Cabrera, who is essentially a one-man wrecking crew with all the injuries the Tigers have sustained.
"He's an unbelievable hitter, just an unbelievable hitter. He hit that ball yesterday I coulda picked it up on the way home. He plays every day, he's an offensive force. The kind of guy that makes you nervous when he feels good about himself. You make a good pitch he hits it up the middle, you make a bad pitch he hits it two streets over. He's one of the best hitters in the game."
Cabrera leads the AL in RBIs and is second in batting and home runs. A hot stretch, or should we say an exceptionally hot stretch considering he's been hot all year, could bring that triple crown possibility into play.
In my lifetime, and I'm just 16, that is the one baseball feat I've not been able to truly get into. Guys have shattered records and milestones left and right and there are no-hitters galore these days, but a pursuit of a triple crown would really be something to get into and track on a daily basis, like we all blindly did in 1998 with McGwire and Sosa.
11:21 a.m.: Darnell McDonald has a stiff back, hence his being scratched from the lineup. If you recall, he had that head-first slide into first base to spark the ninth-inning rally Saturday. Not sure if something happened there, but Terry Francona said he might be available later today as a pinch hitter or whatever is needed.
Now, onto Mike Lowell. He was supposed to be activated Saturday, Francona said, but talks "up the food chain" from the skipper continue to go on. Lowell remains on the DL and we await word on whether he will be activated, placed on waivers or what.
He does not seem to be pleased with the situation. We hope to get reaction from him in a bit.
More reaction on the Saturday win coming up in a separate piece as well.
11:03 a.m.: Eric Patterson and Darnell McDonald are switching places.
McDonald was originally slated to start in center field and bat ninth, and Patterson would start on the bench. Instead, Patterson will be in center and hitting ninth, while McDonald will ride the pine.
10:15 a.m.: Fresh off his first start in the big leagues, Ryan Kalish will get the nod in left field again.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. J.D. Drew, RF
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Victor Martinez, C
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
7. Ryan Kalish, LF
8. Jed Lowrie, 2B
9. Eric Patterson, CF
7 a.m.: The trade deadline came and went, and so did a dramatic win for the Red Sox on Saturday.
Now, on the heels of a wild day at Fenway Park comes a marvelous pitching matchup in the finale of Boston's series with the Detroit Tigers, as Clay Buchholz and Justin Verlander square off Sunday afternoon.
The two All-Stars watched Saturday as the Sox rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win on David Ortiz's three-run double in the bottom of the ninth. It capped Boston's fourth win in five games and sent them into the ever-crucial month of August on a good note.
There is a sense that a roster move involving Mike Lowell will take place prior to Sunday's game, so check the site early and often for word on that.
First pitch of Sunday's finale is 1:35 p.m.