Final, Red Sox 4-3: When they are on, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon make it look so easy. Not even a sniff of a rally in the eighth and ninth, and for Papelbon that’s save No. 26.
Boston has won four in a row. Minnesota has dropped six straight.
It will be up to Jon Lester (well, him and the rest of the team) to keep those trends in place tomorrow night. 8:10 p.m. Be there.
Thanks for following along tonight.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 4-3: I just tweeted this, but this will be the first time Jonathan Papelbon has pitched on three straight days since last June, and he gave up a run in the third game of that stretch.
Papelbon is due to face Drew Butera, Ben Revere and Joe Mauer.
End 8th, Red Sox 4-3: Four batters faced, four easy outs for Daniel Bard, although Tsuyoshi Nishioka tried to take his base after ball three.
No dice Nishi.
If and when Jonathan Papelbon emerges in the ninth, he will be putting a 10-inning scoreless streak on the line. It will also be the first time he has thrown in three straight games all year.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 4-3: I take it all back. Great move, Gardy.
Jose Mijares gets his two left-handed hitters with ease, and the Twins will do their best against Daniel Bard in the eighth.
11:01 p.m.: Holy mackerel. Sometimes I wish I was a baseball fan back in the day when managers didn’t spend so much time worrying about matchups.
Just give a reliever the ball and let him get some outs. This is a 4-3 game and we are on to our ninth pitcher.
Alex Burnett, who came on in the seventh, gets the first man he faces in the eighth and is promptly removed.
Once Josh Reddick is announced as a pinch hitter for Darnell McDonald, Jose Mijares is brought in for the Twins.
End 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Two pitches, one out for Daniel Bard. We move on.
I just ate a dessert that consisted of mixed berries, miniature chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, all in a bowl and just eaten with a spoon. Honestly, it was really, really good.
10:54 p.m.: Franklin Morales gave up a leadoff single to Joe Mauer but bounced back to get a groundout and a strikeout.
With Mauer on second, here comes Daniel Bard to get what figures to be four outs.
The Yankees just lost at home when Mariano Rivera gave up a two-run homer in the top of the ninth and Curtis Granderson, who represented the tying run (winning run in the form of Mark Teixeira at the plate) got picked off for the final out.
That one stings if you you’re in New York, which now holds a six-game lead in the wild card with five still to play against the Angels.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Amazing how this game works sometimes.
The big lumber in the Boston order loads up the bases for David Ortiz and all the Red Sox get is a go-ahead infield RBI single that required an awkward stumble by the pitcher.
But at least they have the lead again. It’s up to Franklin Morales to keep it that way. He enters to begin the seventh.
10:33 p.m.: Well, that worked well.
In one of those scenarios that seems to only happen to teams playing the Red Sox, David Ortiz hits a grounder about 35 feet up the first-base line, where Phil Dumatrait attempted to make a bare-handed play with the intention of throwing home.
Um, Phil, you need the ball first. See, you never had the ball. And you looked like a dope flopping to the grass while Red Sox players ran all over the place.
Dustin Pedroia scores on what goes in the books as a single for David Ortiz (yes, he gets an RBI).
Alex Burnett is on in relief. Bases still loaded. Boston up 4-3. One out. Jed Lowrie up.
10:29 p.m.: The mark of a truly great offensive team is relentlessness.
Just when you think you have some momentum, you have to face guys like Dustin Pedroia (walk in seventh) and Adrian Gonzalez (double) and Kevin Youkilis (walk).
And before you know it, the bases are loaded with just one out and David Ortiz is up. That gets Ron Gardenhire out for a stroll to the mound. He has called upon lefty Phil Dumatrait in a huge spot.
End 6th, 3-3: Matt Albers threw 13 1/3 scoreless innings in July, obviously not allowing a home run.
He gave up a homer in two of his first three outings in August and nearly served one up to the extremely light-hitting Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the sixth.
It didn’t get out, but Nishioka’s double to right was enough to score the tying run from first. It was the first extra-base hit in over a month for Nishioka, just to give you some idea as to what Albers just served up.
The right-hander has been so good, but all these multi-inning efforts may be starting to take their toll. Albers, who has given up three runs in 4 2/3 inning this month, added a walk and then had a three-ball count on the last hitter of the frame before escaping on a grounder to short.
Matt Capps is on to pitch for the Twins.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-2: The Sox have scored one run in innings 1-4 in this series and 11 in innings 5-9.
Their first lead of the night comes courtesy of a Jason Varitek base hit, but it was set up by Francisco Liriano’s continued wildness.
Liriano walked both Jed Lowrie and Carl Crawford, two guys that don’t draw too many of those. Varitek then grounded one into left field to score Lowrie. Crawford was out after rounding second way too far, and Darnell McDonald struck out on Liriano’s 109th pitch of the night.
Matt Albers is on in relief of Bedard, whose line looks like this: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB (all in first inning), 6 K. Solid, and potentially good enough to give him his first win as a member of the Red Sox.
End 5th, 2-2: Erik Bedard’s 90th pitch results in his second straight strikeout and his sixth overall. He has retired seven straight and the temptation to leave him out there a little while longer will be strong for Terry Francona.
Bedard is clearly getting stronger as he goes on. However, the team is in no rush to push their luck. They may take what he gave them tonight and look for him to be at or very close to 100 percent his next time out.
Mid 5th, 2-2: Whenever a lineup change is made that involves a reserve player put into a starting role, Terry Francona often sums up his explanation with the old line: “Just hope he runs into one.”
Well, Darnell McDonald, making a rare start with a left-hander on the mound, just ran into one.
McDonald followed up a walk to Jason Varitek with a deep drive to left for his fourth home run of the season.
Francisco Liriano issued another walk later in the inning, his fifth of the game. This one will be a battle of the bullpens in a matter of moments.
End 4th, Twins 2-0: If not for that messy first inning, we’d have a pretty good duel on our hands.
Erik Bedard just had his second perfect inning. The pitch count is at 77.
The Yankees are losing to the Angels in The Bronx. If the scores hold, Anaheim will be six out in the wild card with five more games between those two teams remaining, including three in California next month.
Nothing is locked up right now. Kind of tired of people saying that. Stop it!
Mid 4th, Twins 2-0: Carl Crawford showed some encouraging signs when he got some hits off CC Sabathia the other night. Crawford has been extremely poor against lefties this year.
It’s just two at-bats, but you hope he’s not reverting back to those struggles tonight. Crawford has fanned twice against Francisco Liriano tonight, falling to 19-for-111 (.171) with 28 Ks vs. southpaws. He looked pretty bad doing so to end the top of the fourth.
It’s part of the first 1-2-3 inning for Liriano, who has settled in nicely.
End 3rd, Twins 2-0: Tim McClelland continued to squeeze Erik Bedard in the third, but Bedard was able to avoid adding to his walk total.
Because of that, the two singles in the inning didn’t hurt, except to drive up that pitch count.
At 67 pitches, Bedard is about 20-25 away from being done. If he can get the team through five with just two on the board, the Sox will be singing hymns.
Mid 3rd, Twins 2-0: Mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating.
Francisco Liriano is either on or off against the Red Sox. In three of his starts vs. Boston he has given up 17 runs in 12 1/3 combined innings.
In his other, he was unhittable for seven scoreless innings. Could he be on tonight?
Well, the fact that he’s thrown barely half his pitches for strikes and is already up to 55 pitches through three suggests there will be some issues going forward. But there have not been any hard-hit balls against him since the first.
End 2nd, Twins 2-0: Am I stating the obvious by saying that Erik Bedard really needed a quick second inning?
I guess, but to see it actually happen merits a mention of how important that was. Bedard threw just 12 pitches in the inning and finished it by getting Joe Mauer out of the way.
By the way, Rich Harden has allowed one run and struck out eight in Toronto tonight. Is that not fair? What? Maybe there are some Oakland fans reading this.
Mid 2nd, Twins 2-0: Francisco Liriano gets a couple of strikeouts against left-handed hitters (Crawford and Ellsbury), as he often does, in a rather quick second inning.
There was an infield hit by Darnell McDonald mixed in there, but no real threat.
End 1st, Twins 2-0: Erik Bedard had three three-ball counts in his first start with the Red Sox. He had five in the first-inning alone, some of it his doing, some of it that of a very tight strike zone by home plate umpire Tim McClelland.
There were probably about six or seven very questionable calls by McClelland, all of which went against Bedard. If this keeps up, someone will get tossed.
It all began with the first of four walks to leadoff hitter Ben Revere. Joe Mauer singled him to third and Michael Cuddyer lifted a sacrifice fly to center.
Then came two more walks and, after a strikeout, another free pass to free-swinger Delmon Young to force in a run.
Jason Varitek was looking in the dugout a few times as if to say, “Guys, this ump’s a joke.” It also looked like he said something to McClelland after the inning ended.
When it was all said and done, Bedard had thrown 37 pitches, more than half than in his first start with Boston. He’s still on a monitored pitch count, perhaps to about 90 or so. That won’t help him last very long.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Two walks and a hard single yield no runs, but you get the sense that the Red Sox will have their chances in this one.
Adrian Gonzalez had the hit, pushing his average back above .350.
It’s worth scoreboard watching tonight and for the next few nights. The Yankees are hosting the Angels for three straight in Yankee Stadium.
We know the AL East race is in the balance, so New York’s results will be watched closely. But it’s the Angels that are second in the wild card, seven games behind the Yanks.
It would be take quite a collapse for New York to lose that spot, but a series win by Anaheim would at least give the race a little life. An Angels sweep would do much more than that.
8:10 p.m.: Francisco Liriano has delievered a ball low to Jacoby Ellsbury. Keep it here all night for the next 300 pitches or so.
7:55 p.m.: Francisco Liriano must be maddening to root for. He can no-hit a team one start and get rocked the next.
That inconsistency is very apparent against Boston.
It was in Target Field early last year that Liriano blanked the Sox over seven dominant innings, yielding just four hits and stiking out eight in an 8-0 rout.
In his return meeting with Boston in Fenway Park the following month, Liriano was tagged for five runs in just 4 2/3 innings.
However, that line looks like a quality start compared to what he did vs. the Sox in ’09. In two starts, Liriano gave up 12 runs on 15 hits in just eight innings. Amazingly, he struck out 13 and walked just four, but was consistently hit hard.
It’s safe to say those offenses did not stack up to this one. We’ll see how Liriano handles the 2011 wrecking crew in just a bit.
6:55 p.m.: Another day of solid Red Sox stories for you all over NESN.com. It was a day of beauty for me (mani-pedi), so you won’t see many contributions until tonight, but here’s a rundown of some quality stuff from the crew:
Ben Watanabe has a look at some statistical projections going forward.
John Beattie opines upon Kevin Youkilis saying he would be open to playing in Cincinnati later in his career.
Here’s an anonymous posting regarding Youk’s ability to handle slumps, and how it relates to your everyday health. Two things: It probably doesn’t relate to your health, and I wrote it, so it’s no longer anonymous. Look for these Beth Israel stories on a weekly basis, if you haven’t seen them yet.
Ben chimes in again with a take on Dan Uggla’s 29-game hitting streak and how it relates to that great baseball year, 1941.
Jesse Scardina has a look at Dustin Pedroia’s Sports Illustrated cover.
And now you are well-read.
5:34 p.m.: According to the incomparable Ian Browne of MLB.com, David Ortiz has been given back his disputed RBI after an appeal process went in his favor.
I don’t know everything that goes into that process, but Ortiz should consider himself one lucky individual. That was a single and an error in my book. I remember thinking when the official scorer announced “two RBI” that it seemed odd, and then thinking that they got it right when they amended the original ruling a few innings later.
That ball was on Austin Kearns in a heartbeat, an absolute screaming liner. Hard singles to the shallow left field at Fenway rarely score runners from second base, even with two outs, and Kevin Youkilis was barely halfway to third when the ball hit off Kearns’ glove.
You can see third base coach Tim Bogar barely begin to raise his right arm to get set to signal “stop,” but he put it right back down when the ball bounced away. In credit to Bogar, he never stopped windmilling with his left arm until he was absolutely sure, as is the practice.
Anyway, what do I know? Ortiz now has 75 RBIs, and should probably enter Terry Francona’s pregame meeting with the media to apologize.
4:38 p.m.: A difficult season for the Twins got that much worse last night.
Not only did they blow that 5-1 lead and fall for the fifth straight time, but they did so in part because Scott Baker, who has been their best starter, was hurt.
Baker was placed on the disabled list today with a right flexor strain, according to reports out of Target Field. When you give up four-run leads in a span of seconds, there could be a physical issue, and there was.
Here is the lineup that will try to turn things around in Minneapolis:
Ben Revere, CF
Joe Mauer, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, 2B
Jason Kubel, RF
Jim Thome, DH
Danny Valencia, 3B
Delmon Young, LF
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
Drew Butera, C
Mauer and Cuddyer are a combined 11-for-36 (.306) against Erik Bedard. Young is just 2-for-20 (.100) with eight strikeouts.
4:07 p.m.: As surmised in this blog last night, Jed Lowrie is in there at shortstop.
Sure, Marco Scutaro is about as hot as they come (7-for-8 his last two games), but he has also appeared in 39 of the last 40 games, starting almost all of those, and he could use a break.
And we figured that Scutaro’s breaks would come when a lefty is on the mound, due to Lowrie’s always-solid numbers in that realm.
Lowrie has never faced left-hander Francisco Liriano, but the Red Sox infielder’s slash line against lefties is .380/.392/.620. Expect this sort of pattern going forward.
Here is the lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Jason Varitek, C
Darnell McDonald, RF
Pedroia is 6-for-10 against Liriano. Youkilis is 4-for-11 with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs.
8 a.m.: One night after Tim Wakefield made his 423rd start as a member of the Red Sox, Erik Bedard will make his second.
Bedard gets the nod in the second game of a three-game set in Minnesota.
The lefty gave up three runs in five innings in his Boston debut, a promising beginning for a guy still working his way back from a sprained left knee. Bedard was limited to 70 pitches in that outing, a number that will continue to rise as long as he is effective.
In his only prior start in Target Field, Bedard threw six scoreless innings and picked up a win.
Fellow lefty Francisco Liriano will go for the sinking Twins, losers of five straight. Liriano has been extremely inconsistent this year, and pretty poor against the Red Sox in his career. He is 1-3 with a 7.78 ERA in four prior encounters.
First pitch from Liriano comes in at 8:10 p.m. ET