10:47 p.m.: Tim Wakefield will pitch the first game Sunday at 4:10 p.m. Daisuke Matsuzaka will go in the nightcap, scheduled for 9:05 p.m.
Terry Francona said that since Wakefield had already been told he was starting at 4:10 on an emergency basis it was best to keep him there. Also, Matsuzaka could use some more time to regroup after being toyed with a bit Friday night.
“Thanks, Mike Night” will still go on as planned, of course, and the weather is supposed to be splendid Saturday. Look for me then. Thanks for waiting it out, even though it was a bit frustrating.
By the way, those with tickets for Friday’s game can come back for the nightcap Saturday.
10:32 p.m.: We have been rained out after a nearly four-hour delay. Thanks a lot for waiting around for nothing with me! Saturday will feature a 4:10 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. doubleheader. Still waiting word on the pitching matchups.
9:42 p.m.: False alarm, folks. The tarp is being rolled back onto the field as the skies have again opened up. This may last another hour or so, and with Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching, we will be blogging until the sun rises.
9:24 p.m.: If you are still up at 10 p.m. you can see the first pitch of this one. That’s when they expect to start. Good times. The decision came after Theo Epstein, Brian Cashman, the umpires and members of the grounds crew met in left field for a little pow-wow.
Thing is, the rain is supposed to intensify again in a little bit, but I guess they think it will be soft enough to play through.
9:19 p.m.: A loud roar goes up as the grounds crew jogs on to lift the tarp. Apparently we will have some baseball. It is still raining, but it’s light and will stop at some point.
9:06 p.m.: The Rays are already trailing 4-0 in Kansas City in a game that may be on in the Yankees’ clubhouse. Perhaps this one gets called and New York still finds itself in first place.
There has been debate as to whether the Yankees even want to win the division. While the victor gets homefield advantage likely through the ALCS (Minnesota could still get that spot), it would also have to face Cliff Lee twice in a short series.
The Yanks have lost a lot of contests lately against left-handed pitchers lately (nine straight in games started by lefties) and Lee is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA against New York this year. Also, if history is any incidation, the Bombers would love to see the Twins in the first round, which they would if they settle for the wild card. Minnesota is 2-9 against the Yanks in the playoffs, all since 2003.
Still, even if they had it in the back of their minds that the wild card would be a better option, the Yankees have to hope for good outings by Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett this weekend. Pettitte is their No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia, but is just two starts removed from a lenghty layoff to rest a sore groin and was rocked by the Red Sox last weekend.
Burnett would not pitch in an opening round series but he still may be needed if New York has a long run in it, whether for one or two starts or even out of the bullpen.
The Yanks’ starting pitching is very suspect right now. Two good starts by Pettitte and Burnett would make them feel a bit better entering the postseason. It might also give them a date with Cliff Lee.
8:43 p.m.: The rain has just about stopped but there is another band due in in about an hour. Apparently we are going to wait for that to blow through and start this one in 2013. It’s gonna be a long night, folks.
8:07 p.m.: Many of you probably stopped paying attention to me several months ago, but if you didn’t then this is a good time to back away. I haven’t predicted anything right.
I first said that Terry Francona would go with his best lineup in an effort to stay competitive with the Yankees. Even if you account for the absence of Adrian Beltre, this is most certainly not Boston’s best batting order.
Also, I told anyone who would listen that the rain would cease by 7:00 p.m. Not only is it well past eight and the rain is still coming down, but it’s coming down hard.
In order to gain some cred, here are some cold hard facts that cannot be refuted:
– The Sox lead the majors with 99 extra-base hits and 63 doubles in September.
– Designated hitter David Ortiz has 1,000 RBIs as a designated hitter, three behind the all-time leader Edgar Martinez.
– Catcher Victor Martinez leads all catchers in baseball with 76 RBIs (as a catcher) and his 20 homers at the position are tied with Brian McCann and John Buck.
– Saturday marks the 32nd anniversary of the Bucky Dent game here at Fenway. Sorry to stir such memories but with the Yanks in town it deserves a mention.
– On that note, Roger Maris hit a homer against the Sox 49 years ago today to surpass Babe Ruth’s record. Maris’s 61st homer was the only run in New York’s 1-0 win over Boston.
7:34 p.m.: Clay Buchholz is indeed scratched from Saturday’s start due to a sore lower back and will finish second in the American League ERA chase. Seattle’s Felix Hernandez was already shut down for the year so there is no chance of him getting lit up and Buchholz backing into the title.
They are dropping like flies over here. First Beltre leaves to be with his wife, thereby ending his season and possibly his Red Sox career. Now Buchholz, whose pursuit of the ERA crown was one of the last remaining dramas, will begin his offseason a coupld of days early.
A lot of sore lower backs for pitchers this year. That was the issue for Josh Beckett for months and Daisuke Matsuzaka missed a start with the same problem.
7:20 p.m.: Sorry for the lack of update. Had some monstrous computer issues. But I guess it’s pretty obvious what is going on right now. We are in a rain delay and it continues to come down in droves.
We are also getting word that Clay Buchholz will be scratched from his start Saturday and replaced by Tim Wakefield. Reportedly, Buchholz, who is still in the mix for the ERA crown, has a bad back.
Should have more on this in a moment.
6:29 p.m.: There has been no formal announcement but it is a foregone conclusion that this one will begin in a rain delay. It is pouring here, and if and when it begins it will be extremely raw as the temperature has plumeted.
There is a gap in the rain forthcoming, and an end in sight later on, according to the weather.com radar.
There is the possibility of a day-night doubleheader Sunday, but I don’t think that will be necessary. There’s too much football to watch anyway. Nobody wants that.
5:37 p.m.: As the rain intensifies and the lights remain off, creating an extremely dark Fenway Park, we are very possibly headed for a delay.
In the meantime, here are a few more notes from the desk of Terry Francona.
After talking at length about Adrian Beltre, Francona was asked about the guy who lost his job to Beltre, Mike Lowell.
Lowell will be honored before Saturday’s game. While his 2010 season was not what Lowell had envisioned, his manager was sold on the veteran way back when he first got him.
“When he first came here he was very stabilizing,” Francona began. “He had a way of going out every day and playing. You look at his batting average and it might go up and down but it would end up right where it should be.  is kind of the culmination of it, what he did in the World Series. Regardless of whether he was the MVP or not, what he did was pretty special.
“I actually thought what he did in ’06 was the beginning of that. We struggled so much, he was staying out there every day and a big part of what we were doing. I thought the beginning of our success in ’07 was how ’06 ended with some of the guys, and he was a big part of it.”
Francona also reflected on the state of the American League East. Entering Friday the Red Sox had the fifth-highest win total in the American League but were third in the division. Only six teams in the league have more wins than Toronto, but three are in the A.L. East.
Throw in the fact that Baltimore improved dramatically in the second half and you have a pretty daunting task just to compete.
“I don’t see it getting any easier, unfortunately,” Francona said. “The offseason’s always fun. We’re always active, you know the Yankees are. Tampa bay has gotten so good. Baltimore’s really improved in
the second half and Toronto is setting records for home runs so unfortunately the East is really good.
“On one hand it’s great, it’s good baseball, but it’s hard to win. It’s probably not going to get any easier quickly.”
Finally, Friday begins three days of year-end physicals for the players. Some of those already done playing (Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, etc.) will go early and the other players towards the end of the weekend. Francona was asked about Jacoby Ellsbury in that context and said he is going through the same process as all others, but did manage to crack a joke related to the whole Ellsbury saga this year.
“He will be examined front and back,” Francona said.
Ellsbury broke four ribs early in the year in a collision with Adrian Beltre. When he returned he could only play a few games before going back on the DL and dealing with a break he said the club never saw in its testing, this time on the back side of his rib cage. Hopefully it’s all water under the bridge. Ellsbury is not going anywhere and will again be your leadoff hitter, and likely your center fielder, in 2011.
Here is the Yankees lineup:
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, C
Lance Berkman, DH
Brett Gardner, LF
4:21 p.m.: Adrian Beltre’s locker was completely cleaned out in the clubhouse. He is done for the year after leaving for Los Angeles to be with his wife, who is due to give birth. Could be the last time he is in that clubhouse as a member of the Red Sox.
Terry Francona said Beltre was in the lineup and batting third before he ran in and told the coaching staff he had to run. More on this in a moment. Without Beltre, here is the lineup for Francona:
Darnell McDonald, CF
J.D. Drew, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 1B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Jason Varitek, C
Bill Hall, LF
Felipe Lopez, 2B
Yamaico Navarro, 3B
3:23 p.m.: The Red Sox just released their weather statement for Friday, saying that their latest update shows “light to moderate rain showers throughout the afternoon and early evening hours” but that “conditions are expected to improve as the evening progresses.”
3:18 p.m.: As we await the posting of the lineups here is a rundown of the weekend of activities here at Fenway.
Friday night will see a celebration of Ted Williams and his final at-bat (you all know what happened), which occurred 50 years ago this week. It will also give fans a chance to mark the 91st birthday of Johnny Pesky.
Saturday, of course, is “Thanks, Mike Day” at the park. Mike Lowell will be honored in a pre-game ceremony.
Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day. There will be several giveaways and an invitation to fans to run the bases.
It is also supposed to be a beautiful weekend once this tropical mess moves out of here, so despite the lack of importance for the Red Sox it will be a pretty special weekend at the park.
3:05 p.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where the tarp is on but the rain is minimal compared to what was expected. Some heavy stuff may still be on the way and the clouds over the skyline look like death, so we will keep you posted.
Lineups should be out soon. You have to figure both teams will send out their “A” lineups, the Yanks because they still have something to play for and the Red Sox because, well, it’s the Yankees. Gotta bring it. At least until Sunday when my son may actually get in the lineup.
12:33 p.m.: Six branches are already down in my backyard and my dog just blew away, but the rain has yet to hit (as I type this).
We will be heading to the park in a couple of hours and will update you on all the weather-related events. It appears that the rain is coming later than they originally thought but there should be baseball at some point in the evening.
8 a.m.: The last chapter in the 2010 edition of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry commences Friday night when the teams meet at Fenway Park.
The Yankees enter with plenty to play for. They are in a tie with the Tampa Bay atop the American League East with home-field advantage in the first round, and possibly the second round, on the line.
The Sox would like to play spoiler, but the come in on a three-game losing streak. They fell 8-2 in Chicago on Thursday.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, who saw his bid for a 10th win lost in New York on Sunday, goes for Boston. Andy Pettitte is on the mound for the Yanks.
First pitch is 7:10 p.m.
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