Red Sox Live Blog: Justin Verlander, Two Relievers Combine on Four-Hit Shutout as Red Sox Road Trip Ends in Defeat


May 29, 2011

Red Sox Live Blog: Justin Verlander, Two Relievers Combine on Four-Hit Shutout as Red Sox Road Trip Ends in Defeat

Final, Tigers 3-0: Sometimes, you have to just tip your cap. The Red Sox were able to beat Justin Verlander the first time, but he was too good this time around.

Boston was due to lose at some point, and if you had to pick one guy to lose to, might as well take your medicine with Verlander on the mound.

The Sox were limited to four hits and get shut out for the fifth time. They return home after this impressive 5-2 road trip to open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.

Jon Lester takes on Jake Peavy in a pretty intriguing matchup. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.

Thanks for sticking with us all day. Time for a certain someone to get a little rest. I’ll see you at Fenway tomorro.

End 8th, Tigers 3-0: Scott Atchison adds a little fuel to the fire by giving up an RBI single in the eighth. In his defense, a sliding stop on an earlier hit by Jacoby Ellsbury did nothing, allowing the ball to roll toward the wall and Miguel Cabrera to second.

Had Ellsbury knocked that ball down, Cabrera would’ve only had a single. The base hit by Don Kelly might not have meant much.

But it did, and Jose Valverde is on for the second time today. David Ortiz, due up third, is 2-for-2 with a grand slam and a solo home runs against Valverde.

Mid 8th, Tigers 2-0: Joaquin Benoit gets the job done by getting Dustin Pedroia to fly to left. Three outs left for the Sox to try to muster something. Otherwise, they will be shutout for the fifth time.

Scott Atchison will try to keep it a two-run game.

10:21 p.m.: Jim Leyland gave Justin Verlander every opportunity to get through eight. He couldn’t quite do it, walking Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs.

Verlander threw a season-high 132 pitches.

Ellsbury joins J.D. Drew on the bases. Dustin Pedroia will step to the plate against Joaquin Benoit, who pitched in the afternoon game.

End 7th, Tigers 2-0: Rich Hill’s streak of scoreless innings as a member of the Red Sox is now at 12 after he soared through the seventh.

Andy Dirks went down on strikes, becoming the 11th K for Hill in eight innings this year.

Mid 7th, Tigers 2-0: Here comes Rich Hill to take over for Josh Beckett, who did well to limit Detroit to just two runs.

Justin Verlander had to work out of something in the seventh. He had a runner on third when Carl Crawford grounded to shortstop for the final out.

That runner, Kevin Youkilis, reached on a fielder’s choice and then moved up 90 feet on another. With a shift on for David Ortiz, Youkilis slid into second before realizing the third baseman had come all the way to second base and nobody was covering third.

Youkilis scampered up 90 feet more. That’s about it for offensive highlights in this one.

End 6th, Tigers 2-0: What could be Josh Beckett’s last inning was also his best.

Beckett picked up a pair of strikeouts and set down the Tigers in order for the first time. His last pitch of the inning, and his 107th overall, was a cutter that got Danny Worth looking.

Rich Hill was up and warming in the Boston bullpen.

Mid 6th, Tigers 2-0: There hasn’t been a ton of great contact against Justin Verlander in this one.

However, Jason Varitek is able to pick up a double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia got pretty good wood on a fly to right. Alas, it died near the wall and was put away for the final out of the inning.

End 5th, Tigers 2-0: The Tigers have had at least one man reach in all five innings. In the fifth, it was Victor Martinez, who is 3-for-3.

Martinez gets erased on a 4-3 double play, allowing Josh Beckett to avoid any serious trouble. The pitch count is 96.

Mid 5th, Tigers 2-0: No problems for Justin Verlander in the fifth. The Red Sox offense has gone from scoring 14 runs to six runs to four runs and now has zero through five innings of this one. Time to make a move, Theo!

End 4th, Tigers 2-0: There might be a time when we look back on this and say that Josh Beckett was fortunate to remain in the game with Justin Verlander.

Beckett has walked five, including the strikeout-prone Austin Jackson twice. It is a new season high and the most he has allowed since Sept. 12 of last year.

The Tigers are 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and have left seven on base already.

Mid 4th, Tigers 2-0: Adrian Gonzalez has now gone 59 at-bats without a home run after ripping eight in a span of 43 at-bats.

Prior to that, Gonzalez went 97 at-bats without a homer. Talk about streaky, at least in the power game.

Gonzalez struck out in a 1-2-3 inning for Justin Verlander.

End 3rd, Tigers 2-0: Josh Beckett puts another zero up on the board, but he also gives up another hit and another walk.

He has issued four free passes already, tying his season high set all the way back during the season debut in Cleveland. The pitch count is 67.

Me thinks we might see Scott Atchison in this one, unless Beckett can find a few quick innings in the middle portion of the game.

Mid 3rd, Tigers 2-0: J.D. Drew had a homer and a walk against Justin Verlander in that meeting in Fenway 10 days ago. He rips a single in the third to continue his success against the righty.

That was it, however, as Verlander got the next two outs without too many problems. Miguel Cabrera leads off the bottom of the third against Josh Beckett.

End 2nd, Tigers 2-0: It’s pretty clear that this will be one that Josh Beckett is going to have to grind through this one.

He walked two more in the second, bringing him one shy of a season high in that category. The Tigers don’t score, but they have Beckett on the verge of 50 pitches already.

Mid 2nd, Tigers 2-0: Don’t want to spot Justin Verlander too much of a cushion. He can settle in as well as anyone, as we have seen from his occasional bouts of absolute dominance.

Verlander looked extremely strong and comfortable in dispatching of the Red Sox in the second. He has thrown 24 pitches. Josh Beckett threw 26 in the first alone.

End 1st, Tigers 2-0: Josh Beckett had given up all of two runs in 31 innings dating back to the final start of April and including all five this month.

He equalled that total just one out into this one. A walk and a double led to one run, and Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single created the other.

Beckett got a strikeout of Alex Avila on his 26th pitch to escape.

With rain falling and mucking up the mound, Beckett has to be wondering what he has to do to get a dry mound one of these games.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Jacoby Ellsbury reached base to start a game for the fifth straight time, but Adrian Gonzalez grounded into a double play for the 11th time this season.

Only two players in baseball entered Sunday with more GIDPs than that.

7:53 p.m.: The Tigers just took the field and we are just about to get going.

7:25 p.m.: The word is that we will start at 7:55. Not too bad, considering what the radar was showing not too long ago. It appears as if the heavy stuff has come and gone and much of it missed the stadium.

6:57 p.m.: The game will begin in a delay, to be sure. No official word but with first pitch eight minutes away as I type this and the tarp still on the field, it’s obvious.

Will pass on word of a new start time when we hear.

Those of you asking about, you are in luck. We are told it will be broadcast there, just not in the Detroit and Boston markets. But you all will have the game on TV.

6:30 p.m.: Word from Pawtucket is that Bobby Jenks allowed one run on one hit and one walk with one strikeout tonight.

Provided everything felt fine physically, Jenks will be at Fenway tomorrow and be activated either then or the next day.

Apparently 11 vehicles are holding down the tarp in Detroit in the event a tornado blows through.

5:55 p.m.: The tarp is now on the field in Detroit and the doppler is an ugly mess of reds and yellows, so strap yourself in for another very likely delay. There are tornado warnings.

If and when Josh Beckett steps to the mound (isn’t it always muddy when he throws?), here is the lineup that will be trying to end his run of dominance:

Austin Jackson, CF
Andy Dirks, LF
Brennan Boesch, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Don Kelly, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Ramon Santiago, SS
Danny Worth, 2B

5:09 p.m.: As the storms roll slowly toward Detroit, here is the lineup against Justin Verlander:

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

Final, Red Sox 4-3: It might’ve been a bit more stressful than a 14-1 win, but this has to go down as one of the better victories of the year for Boston.

Clay Buchholz almost never gives up leads, so when he did, blowing a 3-0 advantage, it just had the feel of a disappointing afternoon for the Red Sox.

But the bullpen — namely Matt Albers — kept the Tigers at bay and David Ortiz continues his torrid month of May to reclaim the lead. Jonathan Papelbon struck out two in a perfect ninth.

It’s been an awkward series in a way, with the rain-shortened opener, the rainout Saturday and the back-and-forth action in this one, but Boston is now a game away from a series and season sweep of Detroit.

It won’t be easy. Justin Verlander is on the mound for the Tigers opposite Josh Beckett. It’s the type of pitching matchup that needs to be shown on TV, and it will be. NESN has arranged to carry the game. Keep it tuned there for postgame, then pregame, then in-game, then postgame coverage.

We will be back in a bit to get the second one going.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 4-3: This will be the 22nd appearance of the year for Jonathan Papelbon, and just his 11th save opportunity.

Papelbon has allowed a run in each of his last two outings. Has no room for error this time.

The homer by Ortiz was his first of the pinch-hit variety since his first in a Red Sox uniform, all the way back in April 2003.

We know there is another game to come and neither team wants extras, so it’s huge in that sense. Also, there are some severe storms still on their way. This may allow them to get at least one game in.

4:11 p.m.: David Ortiz started this one on the bench, but any chance to get him in the game was going to be one worth taking.

Ortiz stays on fire with a solo shot with one out in the ninth. The blast breaks a 3-3 tie and gives Ortiz two homers in as many at-bats against Jose Valverde.

Boston is still batting, looking for more.

End 8th, 3-3: Matt Albers has now pitched exactly two innings six times this year. It’s an incredible resource for Terry Francona.

Mike Cameron, who has reached base all three times, leads off the top of the ninth.

Mid 8th, 3-3: The Red Sox got one tiny gift when Jed Lowrie’s fly to center fell in when Austin Jackson didn’t necessarily get a good read.

They had one taken away when home plate umpire Tim Timmons expanded his strike zone so that it reached the Upper Peninsula while Carl Crawford was hitting. Crawford was a strikeout victim, Drew Sutton grounded to second and Lowrie was left on base.

Daniel Bard was up and warming in the pen, so he may have the eighth. Nope, Matt Albers is starting the eighth, much to my surprise.

End 7th, 3-3: The Tigers made Matt Albers work a bit in the seventh, but never get a guy as far as second base.

What it does do is likely force Terry Francona to turn to the next guy down the line in the eighth. Albers can go multiple innings, but throwing 20 pitches in the seventh may eliminate that possibility. We will see.

Rich Hill was up and warming in the bullpen.

Joaquin Benoit is on for Detroit to start the eighth.

3:37 p.m.: Don and Jerry just made the announcement you all wanted to hear. Tonight’s game will be carried on NESN, thanks to a bending of the rules on the part of ESPN.

Mid 7th, 3-3: I warned you all. The tide turned in this game when Andy Oliver got through those first three innings without too much harm.

And now the Red Sox bats have gone completely quiet and Clay Buchholz is staring at a no-decision.

David Purcey gets the top third of Boston’s order in…ahem…order, and we reach the stretch in a tie game.

Matt Albers is into the game to pitch the seventh, and maybe more.

End 6th, 3-3: All kinds of stuff a Red Sox fan does not want to see in the sixth.

Brennan Boesch offered up the first image by taking Clay Buchholz deep with one out, cutting the lead to 3-2.

Miguel Cabrera followed with a double and Jhonny Peralta blooped an RBI single to center to tie it.

After the Boesch homer, Terry Francona and the Red Sox trainer Greg Barajas paid a visit to the mound. Seems like the blister issues are popping up again for Buchholz.

Buchholz may be done after 98 pitches. He showed some frustration entering the dugout, knowing he will not get a win for the third straight start, despite pitching pretty well the whole time. He was rather upset when his lead was lost in Cleveland earlier in the week.

David Purcey is pitching for the Tigers, another lefty out of their pen. He was picked up in a trade the other day. Knows Boston from his days with Toronto.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-1: If you saw the top of the first inning and said at the time that Andy Oliver would have a quality start, then you should be reading palms somewhere.

But that’s what you have. The Red Sox got a single from Mike Cameron in the sixth, just their second hit since Dustin Pedroia’s leadoff homer in the third.

Oliver will probably be done after finishing the sixth with a pitch count of 106.

End 5th, Red Sox 3-1: Austin Jackson made a bid to tie this game by sending Mike Cameron to the wall in right with a man on base.

Cameron was able to get under it, make the grab and get Clay Buchholz back in the coolness of the dugout. Buchholz has thrown 85 pitches on a muggy afternoon. But he’s from Texas, so that means little.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-1: Andy Oliver threw 30 pitches — 14 for strikes — in the first inning. He tossed six in the fifth, getting three straight groundouts.

Momentum is hard to measure in baseball, but there has been a slight shift in this one. It’s up to Clay Buchholz to make that a non-issue.

The Cubs are in a rain delay at Wrigley. They are watching what is heading to Detroit.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-1: And that’s why we gave some credit to Andy Oliver for making sure this one didn’t get away early.

The Tigers are feeling much better about themselves after a solo shot by Andy Dirks gets them on the board, and Clay Buchholz labors significantly in the fourth.

Buchholz issued a walk one batter after Dirks’ leadoff homer and had a long battle with Victor Martinez before getting him to ground to first.

The Red Sox righty had to throw 27 pitches in the inning. He has given up nine home runs, matching his total for 2010. Buchholz also glanced at his throwing hand a couple of times. He had blister issues earlier this month, so keep an eye on it.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Because the Red Sox are the only ones who have done a thing offensively, this feels like much more than a three-run game. Give Andy Oliver some credit for limiting the damage.

The two home runs Oliver gave up came with nobody on base, and he was very fortunate to only give up one in the first.

Oliver issued a one-out walk to Mike Cameron in the fourth and another to Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs, but keeps the Sox off the board for the first time. He won’t be around much longer, but at least Oliver kept his team in the game better than Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Two strikeouts — both on beautiful changeups — and a grounder to third base gets Clay Buchholz through the third.

Buchholz has set down eight in a row. His ERA, once well over 5.00, is down to 3.14. That mark against Detroit has been dropped to 2.04 in Buchholz’s career. His ERA against AL Central opponents over a 12-start span is now at 1.64.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Rather than piling on five or six or seven runs as they have often during this road trip, the Red Sox are taking a more methodical approach. One run an inning should suffice.

With the way Clay Buchholz is dealing, it should be plenty. Dustin Pedroia gets into the act in the third with a solo shot to left off of Andy Oliver.

Pedroia is batting 5-for-16 with a pair of homers, five RBIs and three steals since he jammed his foot in Cleveland.

End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: If not for the presence of Josh Beckett, everyone in Boston, and perhaps in many other major league cities, would be talking about Clay Buchholz. The former has outshined the latter, to a degree.

However, with a 1-2-3 second, Buchholz now has a 1.54 ERA over a stretch of five-plus starts. He is 3-0 in that span and has nine straight scoreless frames vs. Detroit. Just keeps on getting outs.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: One of the few issues for the Red Sox in the past month-plus has been their lack of production out of right field.

And one of the primary causes for that was Mike Cameron’s nothingness against lefties, whom he has hit hard throughout his career. It rendered his spot starts in place of J.D. Drew rather insignificant.

But Cameron liked what he saw from southpaw Andy Oliver in the second. Facing a 2-2 count, Cameron waited on a belt-high slider that did nothing, except to jump off of Cameron’s bat and go over the left-field wall. It is Cameron’s first home run since he had two in a game April 29.

It also ties him with Steve Garvey on the all-time list, for what it’s worth. Both have/had 272, 165th on the list.

Oliver battled back to get Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a weak pop and then got Jacoby Ellsbury looking at a 95-mph fastball on the outside corner. Oliver’s best pitch of the game so far.

End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: With Andy Oliver heading back out there, I keep thinking of that dog in Tom & Jerry cartoons, and how he would react to a steak hanging from a makeshift fishing pole held by Tom.

OK, that’s a bit odd. Just that the Sox have to be salivating at getting to this guy. And when they get on, they’ve made it clear they are salivating to take bases on Oliver and Victor Martinez.

Getting into what has been a bad bullpen early on a day with two games would be a huge development for Boston. Let’s see if Oliver can settle down a bit.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: The train keeps rolling, and again Jacoby Ellsbury is the conductor.

Ellsbury has reached base to start each of the last four games, his double in this one ultimately resulting in a run on an Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly.

Ellsbury, whose average is back up above .300, got ahead of a shaky Andy Oliver before blooping one into the gap in left-center field.

After Ellsbury swiped third, temporarily pulling into a tie for the major league lead, Dustin Pedroia walked, and he too stole second on Victor Martinez. Both steals came without a throw and with limited looks from Oliver, who looks easy to run against for a lefty.

Gonzalez got the run in on a fly to Austin Jackson, whose throw hom from relatively shallow left was off the line and Ellsbury scored easily.

Oliver also hit Kevin Youkilis, who performed a double steal with Pedroia, again without a throw. The young lefty was all over the place, but Boston missed a huge opportunity to bury him right off the bat.

Jed Lowrie popped to Miguel Cabrera on a 3-1 pitch and Carl Crawford popped to Jhonny Peralta in shallow left. With a pair of games today it’s imperative these teams get innings from their starters. The Sox may have let Oliver off the hook there. He threw less than half of his 30 pitches for strikes.

1:08 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury leads things off with a double to remain hot. We are off and running at Comerica.

12:37 p.m.: Wouldn’t be a day in Red Sox land without a roster move involving the pitching staff.

Today’s shuffle sees lefty Franklin Morales sent to the disabled list with a forearm strain, according to NESN’s own Heidi Watney. Michael Bowden is in Detroit and available out of the bullpen.

That puts a big strain on the pen for a doubleheader. They now only have one left-hander for the two games. Rich Hill will be used at some point. Matt Albers can get lefties out just fine and obviously Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon have no issues. Just something to think about as we get to the late innings of these games.

12:05 p.m.: A couple of pregame notes.

Bobby Jenks will throw his second rehab outing Sunday for Pawtucket. He threw a scoreless inning Friday and is on track to rejoin the team on the upcoming homestand, probably at the expense of Scott Atchison.

With John Lackey on his way back, either Tim Wakefield or Alfredo Aceves will return to the bullpen, lessening the need for a multi-inning guy like Atchison.

Lackey is still scheduled to throw Tuesday night for Pawtucket against Norfolk. If all goes well he will be activated for his next scheduled start, putting him on track to pitch against Oakland at Fenway Park over the weekend.

Also, in non-baseball news, it has been reported that Daniel Bard’s friend who went missing this week has been found safe and sound. Still no details as to where he went and what he did, but good news on that front.

11:38 a.m.: Just to let you know, I have not heard anything from up above about any attempts to get the nightcap televised in some fashion. There have been some whispers regarding efforts in Detroit to do so.

I will let you know the second I hear anything official. If not, and there are options online or through the MLB package that get opened up, I’ll alert you of those as well.

A personal story to pass on regarding this sort of thing. When I grew up in Vermont near the Canadian border, I often listened to Expos games in my basement while shooting on my Nerf hoop. Of course, those broadcasts were in French. I kind of liked the challenge of trying to figure out what was going on in the game based on the inflections in the tone, the cheering of the fans and my extremely limited understanding of the language.

Most of the time it sounded like this: sdkjfladjaklsdjkfdsj;aldjjf; jfllds; Tim Raines jfkl;dsjfadsjkjf; Andre Dawson fjdklsakl;fj;sdfjdldjs;f Les Expos!!!

But it was something different, at the very least.

If we are left with the worst-case scenario, try to have fun with it, as annoying as it is. Heck, we didn’t have live blogs back then. Consider yourself lucky enough to be regaled with stories of my youth.

10:53 a.m.: For those of you interested in some of what went into the lineup, as well as a few numbers, don’t forget to check out our daily Eastern Bank Leading Off post.

We do it every day 3-4 hours before first pitch, and it gives a quick glimpse at the batting orders and some of what makes them interesting.

Back in a bit with all the pregame news and notes.

10:18 a.m.: Just to rehash the weather. It is sunny and dry in Detroit right now. Rain comes into the area late in the afternoon, so Game 1 should be just fine.

After that, we could be dodging a few thunderstorms, but otherwise should get the second game in.

And to rehash what you already know and what has already caused you to write angry letters to ESPN, the great matchup between Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander will not be televised. Anywhere. By anyone. The mother ship has exclusive rights to that time slot, and it was already televising the Cincy-Atlanta game. So it’s the blackout of all blackouts.

You can do one of two things. Either follow the live blog for that one, which we recommend, or try to live like a 1948 kid, the one that now talks about his/her childhood nights with Red Barber’s voice on a transistor radio stuffed beneath his/her pillow. Only after you finish milking the goats and putting away your Hula Hoop and Tinkertoys.

Clay Buchholz should need no tinker(toys)ing when he faces the Tigers, against whom he owns a 2.23 ERA. Buchholz yielded only four hits in seven scoreless innings against Detroit on May 18 at Fenway Park. Here is the lineup he will face:

Austin Jackson, CF
Andy Dirks, LF
Brennan Boesch, DH
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, C
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Don Kelly, RF
Ryan Raburn, 2B
Brandon Inge, 3B

9:52 a.m.: The weather looks OK, not great, but OK in Detroit as the first game approaches.

Following is the Red Sox lineup, without David Ortiz this time. Ortiz was in the lineup last night, but with the double dip perhaps Terry Francona wanted to give guys a chance to stay fresh. That’s also why Kevin Youkilis is at DH.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Drew Sutton, 3B
Mike Cameron, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8 a.m.: Following a rainout Saturday night, the Red Sox will play their first doubleheader of the season Sunday in Detroit, taking on the Tigers in a split twinbill that may also be threatened by rain.

The pitching matchups will remain the same. Clay Buchholz will oppose left-hander Andy Oliver in the matinee. It will be Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander lined up in the finale, their second encounter of the season already.

Unfortunately, the marquee matchup will not be televised due to ESPN exclusive rights to the broadcast window. We will do our best to provide all the details to you right here. The afternoon affair will be televised on NESN.

Check back early and often for weather updates throughout the day. The first game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. and the second at 7:05 p.m.

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