Postgame, Red Sox 5-1: Boston has won two straight and four of seven. Doesn't sound like much of a hot streak, but with the way the Yankees are playing it has been enough to change the outlook over the final three weeks.
With six games remaining against New York, the Red Sox are seven out. They still have eight games before they even play the Yankees, six of which are at home and five of which are against last-place teams.
It doesn't seem like much of a stretch to put Boston's deficit at five or so entering those last six games with the Pinstripers.
Of course, as has been the case all season, the Sox will go only as far as their starting pitching takes them. For that to be a reality Tuesday they need Daisuke Matsuzaka to turn things around. He has a 7.04 ERA over his last five starts.
We will follow Matsuzaka's effort opposite Luke French for you right here. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m.
Final, Red Sox 5-1: The Red Sox have evened their record on this road trip and owe it all to Jon Lester, who has won 17 games for the first time in his career.
The lefty was magnificent, striking out 12 in eight innings.
Ryan Kalish drives in two with a home run in the eighth and Josh Reddick, Daniel Nava and Lars Anderson each have a single RBI.
All the players mentioned in this post are 27 or younger. Youth is served on a Monday night in Seattle.
We will come back with a final thought a little later on and look for more on the site related to the Red Sox' sudden possibilities with the reeling New York Yankees.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 5-1: Daniel Bard will be coming on to try to finish this one off. While he has some room for error it would be nice to see Bard have a clean outing. He has quietly struggled of late.
In 5 1/3 innings in September, Bard has given up six hits and has walked five. This will be his 65th outing of the year.
Jon Lester allowed just a run on three hits and three walks while striking out 12 in a marvelous effort.
End 8th, Red Sox 5-1: Jon Lester's last four strikeout totals now read 10, 10, 10 and 12. He struck out the side in the eighth and should be able to watch Daniel Bard wrap this one up. Quite an effort by Lester, who will pick up a career-high 17th win if the Red Sox hold on.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-1: Just to update some numbers we gave earlier, Ryan Kalish is hitting .312 (10-for-32) in September. He has 12 RBIs in 10 games during the month.
12:00 a.m.: Midnight strikes and the bell tolls for Doug Fister, who is yanked one batter after giving up a two-run bomb to Ryan Kalish. There is a reason the Sox are getting Kalish more starts near the top of the order — he may be their best hitter right now.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-1: A walk, single and an RBI ground out spoils Jon Lester's shutout bid. He escapes further harm when Jed Lowrie makes a nice play for the final out.
Lester's pitch count is 89. He's in great shape but some insurance runs would be nice.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-0: If you thought Doug Fister would last seven innings in this one, please raise your hand. OK, I can't see you but you get props for seeing past his rocky second inning.
Just one Red Sox hitter has reached in the past five innings against Fister. With a pitch count of just 94 he has a shot to go eight innings for the first time since May 19.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-0: Jon Lester has set down nine straight, striking out three along the way. He has eight punchouts overall, leaving him two shy of reaching 10 for a career-high fourth straight start.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-0: Doug Fister has retired 14 of the last 15 hitters he has faced. The one to reach was David Ortiz, who doubled with one out in the sixth.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-0: Lars Anderson and anyone else we asked said when he was called up that his defense was vastly improved. Certainly seems to be the case. Anderson has made every play at first base for the Sox, including a diving stop to end the fifth.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-0: Doug Fister threw about six pitches that were hammered in the second. Other than that he's been dominant, and efficient.
Fister has thrown 68 pitches, but 25 of them came in the second.
End 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Rough night in New York. First they see the Jets score nine points and lose in the regular season opener of the new Meadowlands Stadium, or whatever that is called. Then the Yanks fall out of first place. Also, Johan Santana had surgery. And somewhere a cab smells.
Actually, the cab thing could happen anywhere. I once found a grilled cheese in the back seat of one in Boston. Not one bite taken.
Jon Lester strands a runner at second base to end the fourth. He has six strikeouts.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Interesting night so far for Daniel Nava in his first start in a week. He ripped an RBI double in the second and then looked at three straight called strikes to finish the fourth.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Jon Lester has it all working in this one. He has struck out five and allowed just an infield hit in the first three innings. That is now 35 strikeouts in 22 innings over the last three-plus starts for the lefty.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Doug Fister gets knocked all over the ballpark in the second and then throws just eight pitches in retiring Victor Martinez, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre in the third. Go figure.
End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: Jon Lester has a 1-2-3 inning and is now up to 199 strikeouts on the season.
The Rays beat the Yankees on a walk-off homer by Reid Brignac in the bottom of the 11th. As it stands the Red Sox are seven games behind New York in the loss column and the Yanks are reeling.
Whenever the Bronx Bombers lose on CC Sabathia's night they are in for a long series. As I've continued to say, it is not outlandish to see Boston within six games of New York before those two teams meet for six games over the final two weeks of the season.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: Boston is all over Doug Fister in the second. Three doubles, a single and an RBI ground out do the trick, with Lars Anderson's first career extra-base hit one of the highlights.
This is already more run support than Jon Lester received in his last appearance in Seattle.
End 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester is now three strikeouts shy of reaching 200 for his career after getting one in the first. Lester has fanned 10 in each of his last three outings so it's a safe bet he will reach that number in Seattle.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Doug Fister, who stands 9 feet tall and weighs 120 pounds, survives a two-out error by Chone Figgins to get through the first. Figgins has 17 errors, five more than any other American League second baseman.
The last time the Red Sox visited Seattle it was Figgins who was at the center of a dugout fight with his manager and others, the low point in a frustrating year for the Mariners.
10:00 p.m.: The Yankees and Rays are still scoreless now going into the bottom of the 10th. Brett Gardner was thrown out trying to steal third with two outs in the top half of the inning, a bad move by the Yankees speedster.
9:39 p.m.: The word on J.D. Drew is that he jammed his right ankle in Sunday's game at Oakland. He was very slow to get up after scoring in the sixth so it may have happened then, adding to his persistent hamstring woes.
Only three Red Sox players have been in more games than Drew so the usual criticisms he gets for missing games won't float. He's battled through plenty this season to be out there as much as possible.
Maybe that is one reason why his numbers have suffered a bit.
9:11 p.m.: If you have already moved on from baseball and have thrown yourself behind the pigskin then follow Mike Hurley's Jets-Ravens Live Blog.
If you are like me and would rather the serenity of a night in Safeco Field, then stick around and we'll see what the Sox have to offer.
8:41 p.m.: As I sit here the Rays and Yankees are scoreless in the seventh with both CC Sabathia and David Price throwing one-hitters with the A.L. East lead on the line.
If you are one of the few believers that the Red Sox still have a chance you have to start rooting for the Rays. Boston is finished with Tampa Bay but has six remaining games against New York, which is limping to the finish line.
Outside of Sabathia the Yankees have nobody they can count on in their starting rotation and their offense has been just as bad of late.
New York has dropped six of seven and if it doesn't get its act together soon enough it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Sox get within six games of the Yanks before those final six meetings. Boston has nine games still to go before the rivalry is renewed.
8:20 p.m.: The latest addition to the Red Sox bullpen is lefty Rich Hill, a local boy (Milton) who was signed to a free agent deal in June.
Hill has held lefties to a .218 average in his major league career. Dustin Richardson has struggled mightily, Hideki Okajima has been up and down and Felix Doubront may not be returning anytime soon, so there is a spot for another southpaw and Hill showed he was ready to come back up.
In 2007, Hill was 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA and had 183 strikeouts in 195 innings with the Cubs. He has tasted success at this level.
In other pregame news, pitching coach John Farrell is ill and will not be in the dugout. Bullpen coach Gary Tuck will take over his duties and David Page, the strength and conditioning coach, is taking over for Tuck.
Back in a bit with more.
6:35 p.m.: It is a Pawtucket-heavy lineup for the Red Sox in the opener of three games against Seattle. J.D. Drew will sit after appearing to be a bit banged up in the finale at Oakland and Mike Lowell will rest again.
Here is the starting lineup against Mariners righty Doug Fister, as well as the Seattle order vs. Jon Lester:
Marco Scutaro, SS
Ryan Kalish, CF
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Reddick, RF
Daniel Nava, LF
Lars Anderson, 1B
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chone Figgins, 2B
Russell Branyan, DH
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Jose Lopez, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Matt Tuiasosopo, LF
Adam Moore, C
Josh Wilson, SS
8 a.m.: The Red Sox continue a six-game road trip when they head to the Pacific Northwest for the last time this season and take on the Seattle Mariners in a three-game series at Safeco Field.
Boston is 1-2 on the trip after winning the finale in Oakland on Sunday. Josh Beckett had his fourth straight quality start to pick up the win, a 5-3 decision.
Jon Lester, a native of nearby Kirkland, will be aiming for a career-high 17th win on Monday. He flirted with a perfect game in his last trip to Seattle before falling on the wrong end of a 5-1 score.
Doug Fister goes for the Mariners. First pitch is 10:10 p.m.
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