Red Sox Live Blog: Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez the Stars as Red Sox Top Angels in 11 Innings


April 21, 2011

Red Sox Live Blog: Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez the Stars as Red Sox Top Angels in 11 Innings

Final, Red Sox 4-2: The Angels get the tying run to the plate to add a bit of drama to the 11th. With that man on second base, Jonathan Papelbon survived a 10-pitch encounter with Howie Kendrick to finish off a see-saw, sometimes maddening but ultimately successful evening for the Red Sox

That's now five wins in six games for the Sox and 10 in their last 11 against the Angels.

Boston was 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position, but Josh Beckett kept them in it and Dustin Pedroia just willed his team. The club can look to keep it going on Friday night with their star lefty, Jon Lester, on the mound against Dan Haren.

It will be a great pitching matchup on the heels of a wild affair in the opener. Hope you enjoyed it, and be sure to log on again tomorrow night.

Mid 11th, Red Sox 4-2: Poor Carl Crawford. He just wants to be part of the act. Instead he just finds a way to end it.

Crawford strikes out with two runners in scoring position, handing this game over to Jonathan Papelbon.

Papelbon had to throw 25 pitches yesterday afternoon to nail down a four-out save. Let's see what he has left.

1:39 a.m.: We have been waiting for that truly big hit from Adrian Gonzalez, and we get it in the 11th.

Gonzalez follows a J.D. Drew walk and a Dustin Pedroia single with a double into the corner in right. It scores Drew and moves Pedroia to third.

Jed Lowrie's sacrifice fly on the 584th pitch of his at-bat scores Pedroia, who dashed home and slid just out of reach of the tag.

Pedroia has done it all tonight. The kind of performance you see from MVPs.

We have a pitching change. Two on and two outs.

End 10th, 2-2: A lot of Bobby Jenks hate out there it seems. Can we give him a chance? He has pitched eight times now, five of them resulting in scoreless outings (if he only goes one in this one).

There was one major hiccup in there and one minor one yesterday in Oakland, but he's fine.

Jenks throws a quick 10th and we play on.

Mid 10th, 2-2: I know you're all frustrated with Carl Crawford so far. This isn't a defense of him, but it's interesting to note how bad his position has been league-wide this year.

Entering Thursday, nine American League teams had seen their left fielder(s) post an average of .236 or less. Four teams, including the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and tonight's opponent, the Angels, had a mark below .200.

Brett Gardner has been awful for New York. The Travis Snider/Juan Rivera combo has been poor in Toronto. Luke Scott is getting the bulk of the time in left for Baltimore and struggling. Only the now legendary Sam Fuld in Tampa Bay has prevented the position from being a wasteland in the AL East.

Crawford, Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury each struck out in the 10th against Angels right-hander Rich Thompson.

Thought Daniel Bard would get another inning, but perhaps the consecutive days of work thing nullified that. Bobby Jenks is your new pitcher.

End 9th, 2-2: Terry Francona likes to talk about Daniel Bard as the ultimate weapon, as a guy he can use anywhere at any time. Francona is doing just that this week.

Bard was used to quell a bases-loaded rally in the sixth inning yesterday. He is brought in to start the ninth today. Both times he got nothing but outs.

Quite an impact Bard can have on a game. He threw just nine pitches in the ninth, so should be able to come back out there if the game remains tied.

Mid 9th, 2-2: Jed Lowrie up with two outs in the ninth and a runner on second. Just had that feeling, didn't it?

Well, that feeling was washed away with a soft fly to center. We head to the bottom of the ninth tied, and now it suddenly has that other feeling, doesn't it?

Daniel Bard will be on to try to send this one to extras.

End 8th, 2-2: There will be some TUMS consumed in managers' offices after this one. Josh Beckett gets through the eighth on his 125th pitch, but he can thank Angels shortstop Erick Aybar for allowing him to leave with the lead.

Think of all you could do with a speedy guy at second, no outs and the top of the order up with a chance to take the lead entering the ninth. I mean, that's what you play for.

What Aybar did, stupidly trying to stretch a double into a triple when the relay was well on its way before he even reached second, was deprive Anaheim of all those possibilities. Just a horrendous decision. The play was actually closer than I thought it would be, but he deserved to be out no matter what.

That's not meant to take anything away from Beckett. Another heroic effort for him. In a flat-footed race with Jed Lowrie for early-season team MVP honors.

Mike Scioscia has gone to closer Jordan Walden to begin in the ninth.

Mid 8th, 2-2: That's why Mike Scioscia is in a major league dugout and I'm just sitting here eating jellybeans to stay awake.

Scioscia sticks with an erratic but powerful Fernando Rodney, and gets rewarded. Rodney strikes out J.D. Drew on a nice changeup and then becomes the first Angels pitcher to retire Dustin Pedroia tonight.

Another scoring chance flushed down the toilet, and this one is perhaps the most shocking. Of Rodney's first 12 pitches, five were strikes, resulting in two walks and a hit batter with one out.

Boston has stranded 12. It is 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Somewhat surprisingly, Josh Beckett is out to begin the eighth.

12:36 a.m.: Not sure why Mike Scioscia isn't making a move right now. Fernando Rodney is all over the place. Has loaded the bases with one out. J.D. Drew up for Sox in a big spot.

End 7th, 2-2: Brand new ballgame, and the Red Sox have to be kicking themselves even more for leaving runners on over and over.

That should do it for Josh Beckett. His 107th pitch ends the seventh, but not before Torii Hunter's homer.

It was a fastball that didn't do much other than head straight down the middle, and Hunter hammered it. Hunter is now 8-for-21 (.381) against Beckett.

12:19 a.m.: Leadoff walks always seem to lead to bad things. So, too, do balls hit 400 feet.

Torii Hunter just followed up a leadoff walk issued by Josh Beckett with a shot over the wall in center. We are tied.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-0: Josh Beckett looks like an impenetrable force right now, but you'd still like to see the Sox get some of these runners in.

After consecutive walks to start the seventh, Boston does absolutely nothing. Both Marco Scutaro and David Ortiz struck out looking. Before that, Adrian Gonzalez followed up the back-to-back walks by swinging on the first pitch and popping weakly to third.

Not a great inning there for the offense, which is now 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Haven't we seen this before?

End 6th, Red Sox 2-0: If that's the only hit the Angels get, MLB should give the Red Sox a no-hitter with an asterisk.

Erick Aybar chopped one to lead off the inning that soared into the night. By the time it settled in Josh Beckett's glove, Aybar was on first with an infield hit.

He moved to second on a ground ball to third and to third on a ground ball to shortstop. That's where Aybar would stay. Beckett got Howie Kendrick looking to finish the frame.

The surging Beckett is in the dugout with a pitch count of 85. Plenty left to give. Beckett has thrown over 100 in each of his first three starts.

If Beckett lasts just one more, we should see Daniel Bard in the eighth. Bobby Jenks has struggled in two recent outings.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-0: It was set up to be another disappointing inning.

The Red Sox chose to have Carl Crawford sacrifice with runners on first and second and no outs (or maybe he did it on his own). It worked, but all that did was give Tyler Chatwood a chance to face the overmatched Jason Varitek, whom he struck out with ease for the second out.

Not sure if that was the best strategy right there.

Alas, Jacoby Ellsbury to the rescue. Ellsbury ended the Sox' frustrating night with runners on with a soft liner to right that fell in, driving in David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie with the only runs of the night.

Ellsbury was then caught stealing to end it, but Boston has given Josh Beckett something to work with now.

End 5th, 0-0: The Angels' best bid for a…ahem…is a drive to the wall in right by Mark Trumbo. J.D. Drew grabs it to end the fifth.

Beckett has used up 73 pitches. That's now one run allowed in the past 20 innings.

Mid 5th, 0-0: Showing no issues with that jammed left foot, Dustin Pedroia bloops a single to right to reach for the third time in as many plate appearances.

Nothing comes of it. Adrian Gonzalez strikes out and Marco Scutaro flies to left.

We shouldn't be surprised to see another pitching duel here. If you get a chance, take a look at some of the efforts throughout baseball tonight by starting pitchers. Just shutdown performances all over the place.

Early in the season it seemed as if the Year of the Pitcher was a one-year aberration. But the hurlers have taken over a bit since then.

End 4th, 0-0: The Angels get a man in scoring position on a walk and a wild pitch, but that's all they've mustered so far against Josh Beckett.

As far as I can recall, only one ball has been hit reasonably hard against Beckett. That was Vernon Wells' liner to shortstop in the second.

Beckett's ERA is down to 1.50. He has nine straight scoreless innings.

Mid 4th, 0-0: Remember when we all projected how many stolen bases this team would have now that Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford were together at the top of the order?

Well, with both of them at the bottom of the order and neither getting on base all that much, the Red Sox entered the night ranked 13th in the American League with just six steals.

They seem intent on moving up that list with a pair of early steals, the latest coming from Crawford with two down in the fourth. Jason Varitek followed with a walk, the second of the inning for Tyler Chatwood.

That only gave Boston a chance to pad is RISP stats. That number is now at six after Jacoby Ellsbury flew to left to end the inning.

The Sox figure to break through against the young Chatwood at some point. Until then, they'll need Josh Beckett to continue this impressive streak.

End 3rd, 0-0: And lost in all this who's hurt now stuff is Josh Beckett, who has set down the first nine Angels in order.

He finishes the third by dropping a pretty curve for a called third strike on Peter Bourjos.

It looks like the Red Sox have said that Kevin Youkilis fouled the ball off his left shin, not the foot, although trainers appeared to be checking out the area around the top of the foot/ankle. Somewhere in that area, I guess. We should know more after the game.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: And just as I mention the fact that the Sox are pretty lean when it comes to backup infielders, Dustin Pedroia jams his left foot (yes, that one) sliding into second with his first stolen base of the game.

He appeared to be fine after walking it off, but now what you want to see. At all.

Because of the insertion of Marco Scutaro to replace Kevin Youkilis, the Angels could intentionally walk Adrian Gonzalez to pitch to the Red Sox shortstop. He flies to left to end the third.

Boston is 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Their average in those situations is back below .200, now at .194 (30-for-155).

End 2nd, 0-0: As great as Jed Lowrie has been and as valuable as he is in the sense that he can slide into any other infield spot in the event of an injury, his versatility can make the Sox bench lean at times.

This is one of those times. Because Lowrie is so diverse, Boston doesn't need to carry any other utility infielders or Bill Hall types who can play infield and outfield. But with Kevin Youkilis out of the game, there now really is no other IF option. If Dustin Pedroia feels a snag in his hammy or something, God forbid, where do the Sox turn?

Darnell McDonald is a very good athlete. Perhaps he would be that guy. Anyway, something to think about after Josh Beckett's second straight perfect inning.

By the way, Marco Scutaro will now be the cleanup hitter.

10:31 p.m.: Kevin Youkilis was wincing in pain after fouling a pitch off his left foot in the first. He has been taken out of the game as a result, hopefully just as a precaution.

Marco Scutaro went into the game at shortstop. Jed Lowrie is the third baseman in place of Youkilis.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: The Red Sox are already 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position just two innings into this one.

David Ortiz led off with a double, moved to third on a Jed Lowrie grounder and then stayed right there. With the infield drawn in a bit, Carl Crawford grounded to first. Jason Varitek then struck out.

Varitek may have forced Terry Francona's hand in this apparent shift at the catcher position, but he is doing nothing at the plate. Now 1-for-21 with seven strikeouts. Hitless in last 15 at-bats.

End 1st, 0-0: Of all the Red Sox starters, Josh Beckett's arsenal appears to get analyzed more than any.

Some say it all depends upon his fastball, that everything will work off of that. Others think he needs his curve working to be effective. Terry Francona always talks about the two-seam fastball as the key.

But Beckett summed it up best this spring when he said he needed to get back to being able to throw all his pitches with effectiveness. If one is off, or if he relies too heavily on another, as he did in 2010, the whole attack can be thrown off.

That's what has stood out the most in this little run. Beckett has thrown pretty much all of his pitches well. In a 1-2-3 first inning against the Angels, he showed great life on the heater, and dropped in one really nice curve for a strike.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Obviously, I don't subscribe to the whole "baseball is so boring" mindset that you run into from time to time. It's a beautiful game.

However, the change in intensity from the Bruins game to this was almost jarring. It's like a picnic taking place where a war was once fought.

Still, it means plenty to the Red Sox, who had a little somethin' cookin' in the first, but it fell apart when Kevin Youkilis grounded into a double play. Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez had singled before him.

People keep thinking that the Red Sox will really get going once they start seeing more righties. Well, as I've been pointing out for days, their numbers against left-handers are slightly better and they just got their season turned around in a stretch that had lefties all over the schedule. The ideal result from a team that has loads of matchup options would be a pretty even split, and so far that's been the case. They just need more guys to get going overall, regardless of who they're facing.

9:53 p.m.: Well, the game will be on NESN now, and that should please everyone in New England, for it means the Bruins have closed out a pretty remarkable win. Check out Doug Flynn for all the postgame analysis on that end.

9:36 p.m.: OK, I know not many of you are thinking baseball at this very moment, but with the Bruins going to overtime and perhaps playing long into the night, you will need to find your NESNplus channel to watch the Sox. The link is in the prior post.

Or, you can simply keep it here for all the analysis.

9:20 p.m.: A reminder that you can find Red Sox pregame coverage on NESNplus. Find your channel here.

9:07 p.m.: It was 9:07 p.m. when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth's record. That just popped in my mind when I wrote that time to start this entry.

I can't compare to the drama in Montreal, so here is another diversion to Doug Flynn's Bruins live blog.

Check back here around first pitch and we'll carry you through the rest of the night.

8:02 p.m.: The Jason Varitek-Jarrod Saltalamacchia split, which we projected in this blog nearly two weeks ago, is expected to remain in place at least through the weekend.

According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Varitek will also catch Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday. That gives Saltalamacchia the nod Friday (Jon Lester) and Sunday (John Lackey).

7:07 p.m.: Josh Beckett will be tested by this Angels lineup, if history is any factor.

The first five guys in Anaheim's order have done well against the Red Sox righty. Maicer Izturis, Howie Kendrick, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells are a combined 40-for-95 (.421) with six home runs and nine doubles vs. Beckett.

Bobby Abreu, who is batting third, is just a .187 (14-for-75) career hitter against Beckett, but he has an astronomical 20 walks in their encounters, so he can keep the train moving.

Here is the full Angels order:

Maicer Izturis, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Bobby Abreu, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
Vernon Wells, LF
Hank Conger, C
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Erick Aybar, SS
Peter Bourjos, CF

6:30 p.m.: So we have plenty of time before the Red Sox take the field. Until then, make sure you follow all of the pregame and ingame news, notes and analysis from the great Doug Flynn on his Bruins live blog.

You won't be disappointed. By Doug, that is. Can't account for the B's.

5:47 p.m.: Plenty to get you updated on hours before first pitch.

The Red Sox activated Matt Albers from the disabled list and optioned Alfredo Aceves to Pawtucket. No surprise there, although some thought they might go without a lefty for a bit and send back Hideki Okajima. Seemed too quick for that, and Aceves needs to get stretched out again to serve as a valuable component to the starting pitching depth.

The medical staff in Pawtucket is looking into the condition of Ryan Kalish, who suffered a shoulder injury making a diving catch this afternoon. We will pass along word if and when we get anything.

Finally, below is the Red Sox lineup for this one. Jason Varitek remains paired with Josh Beckett and J.D. Drew is batting leadoff once again. Jed Lowrie draws another starting nod at shortstop.

J.D. Drew, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Jason Varitek, C
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

8 a.m.: Josh Beckett started the Red Sox' current run of four wins in five games with a standout performance his last time out. He will try to continue the run Thursday night when Boston opens a four-game series in Anaheim against the surging Angels.

Beckett has allowed a run in 15 innings over his last two starts. His win over Toronto last weekend began a run in which the Red Sox' rotation has had five straight starts of five or more innings with no more than one run allowed. That's the team's longest such streak since 1947.

Beckett is 3-4 with a 4.52 ERA at Anaheim, which will start rookie Tyler Chatwood.

Chatwood, just 21, dominated the Chicago White Sox his last time out to pick up his first major league win.

First pitch for this one is 10:05 p.m. on the East Coast.

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