Postgame, Red Sox 10-4: When you get interviewed by the TV, you've done something.
The TV, in this case, is one of a handful in the Red Sox clubhouse, but it's the most prominent, sitting on a pillar directly in the middle of the room and facing the masses.
It's where many players go when the media contingent is so large that doing things around the clutter of the lockers is too hard.
Ellsbury's been at the TV more than once this week, with today being the latest example.
The red-hot center fielder didn't have anything too crazy to say, which is somewhat of a good thing. He is taking his run all in stride. Meanwhile, his numbers are soaring past his counterparts. Chants of "MVP! MVP!" were heard at Fenway today, and it's hard to argue.
Barring a really vicious case of bed bugs tonight, Ellsbury will be in the lineup Sunday night when the Sox and Yanks put first place on the line in the series finale. It's Freddy Garcia squaring off against Josh Beckett in an 8:05 p.m. affair.
There is rain in the forecast, so check the live blog early and often for updates.
Final, Red Sox 10-4: The AL East is all tied up. Again.
Give credit to John Lackey for providing a workmanlike six innings, and to Jacoby Ellsbury for leading the charge against CC Sabathia.
We are off to hear from both guys. Back soon.
End 8th, Red Sox 10-4: Jacoby Ellsbury has added another superlative to his phenomenal season.
With a two-run single through a drawn-in infield, he has a career-high six RBIs, twice that of his previous mark.
The hit came with the bags full after two walks and a single, that coming from Carl Crawford, who is 4-for-4 with three runs scored.
Dustin Pedroia added a sacrifice fly later in the frame.
The rally gives Terry Francona a chance to sit Jonathan Papelbon. Dan Wheeler will attempt to get the last three outs and pull Boston back into a tie atop the division.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 7-4: After 25 straight outings without giving up a run, Daniel Bard has now done so in two straight.
The Red Sox will be OK with this one, at least for now. It was a 2-0 fastball that Mark Teixeira rocked into the stands in right to cut the Yankees' deficit to three.
Bard also gave up a two-out single to Eric Chavez, but nothing else.
Hector Noesi has taken over for New York. Jonathan Papelbon is warming.
End 7th, Red Sox 7-3: You can never have enough insurance against the Yankees, and the Sox made a game effort to add to their total in the seventh.
Alas, it was not meant to be. Luis Ayala, after issuing consecutive two-out walks to Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis and then uncorking a wild pitch to move them both up 90 feet, got David Ortiz to fly to right.
Changes for Boston. Daniel Bard is on to pitch. Josh Reddick is in right. I am thirsty.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-3: An infield hit by burner Brett Gardner gives the Yankees a tiny bit of life to begin the seventh.
Boston pitchers have done a nice job of limiting damage and stifling such potential rallies by taking care of the middle portion of the New York order.
The 3-6 hitters are now 2-for-10 with two GIDPs. Curtis Granderson hit into a twin killing to finish the top of the seventh.
The Yanks have called on the bullpen. Luis Ayala has taken the place of CC Sabathia.
End 6th, Red Sox 7-3: Carl Crawford has finished a game with an average over .250 just once this year. That was July 24, when he ended the game at .254.
Crawford is at .251 with a 3-for-3 effort so far. He laced a single to left with one out in the sixth, just before a beer vendor at the base of a row near the Yankees' on-deck circle dropped his supply all over the field.
That didn't distract CC Sabathia, although the brew looked mighty refreshing. Give me a few hours on that front.
Sabathia got the next two men he faced, turning this one over to Alfredo Aceves.
John Lackey's line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HB. Quality.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 7-3: It's a quality start for John Lackey, just his fourth in nine outings.
That's provided he doesn't come out to start the seventh and fall apart, but at 115 pitches I would be shocked to see it.
Matt Albers threw two innings last night. The guess is that Terry Francona will go Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon here. We'll see. He could mix in a lefty-on-lefty matchup in the seventh, which sees Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson come up. (Update: Aceves is warming again and Lackey got the pat on the back from Francona, so that's that.)
End 5th, Red Sox 7-3: And there's that zero that CC Sabathia desperately needed. He did give up a leadoff hit to Adrian Gonzalez, but a double play and strikeout of David Ortiz ends it.
Sabathia may end up going seven without a problem in this one.
Meanwhile, John Lackey will almost certainly not last beyond this frame, which he begins at 100 pitches.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 7-3: That had disaster written all over it, but John Lackey got his act together just in time to save not only himself, but his team as well.
Given a five-run cushion, Lackey opened the fifth by giving up a single to Francisco Cervelli and then hitting Brett Gardner. That's the 14th HBP for Lackey, four more than anyone else. Derek Jeter then knocked in a run with a single of his own.
Alfredo Aceves was up, Lackey's pitch count was approaching triple digits and the heart of the order was coming up with no outs and two speedy runners on base.
How did Lackey respond?
Strikeout, strikeout, grounder to first. It was his 100th pitch that ended the inning.
CC Sabathia will begin the fifth for New York. He has only thrown 72, so he may have two or even three more innings if he can put up some zeroes.
End 4th, Red Sox 7-2: I know the Red Sox are a very good hitting team, but you almost get the sense that CC Sabathia is tipping something to them.
The disparity between the way in which they abuse him and the way in which he abuses the rest of his opponents is so vast.
Sabathia's ERA against Boston this year is now 7.83, compared to 2.11 otherwise, after a five-run fourth capped by Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run homer.
Kevin Youkilis started it all with a double. Mike Aviles singled with one out and Carl Crawford drove in Youkilis with a hit of his own. Marco Scutaro had a two-out RBI hit before Ellsbury put one into the first row of the right-field grandstands. He is inching closer to that magical 30/30 status. It's No. 19 for Ellsbury.
The Yankees had Hector Noesi up in the pen. He has since taken a seat. Nearly everyting was hit on the nose.
Mid 4th, 2-2: This is the thing with the Yankees and Red Sox. Even when it seems as if the opposing starter is in control, he's being worked so hard.
Such was the case with John Lackey. He seemed to cruise through the first three innings, and for all intents and purposes he did. But he had to deal with a few lengthy at-bats, and after a soft single and a walk to start the fourth, his pitch count is suddenly up over 70 with no outs in the inning.
In fact, Lackey threw 25 pitches before recording an out in the inning. His 26th resulted in two outs when Nick Swisher hit into a 4-6-3 double play, but a run scored on the play and another came in when Eric Chavez went the opposite way for a wall-ball RBI single.
Lackey finished the frame at 86 pitches. Just like that, he may be looking at a short start.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: If the Yankees somehow had CC Sabathia avoid the Red Sox, he would be a lock for the Cy Young Award — and that's given the other fine candidates out there.
Sabathia entered this one 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against teams not from Boston, but 0-3 with a 6.16 mark against those from the Hub.
And now he's trailing in this one after the bottom of the order gets a nice rally going in the third.
Carl Crawford led it off with a double and Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked. Marco Scutaro moved them both up with a sacrifice, and Jacoby Ellsbury flew to right to score Crawford. Dustin Pedroia then rocked one off the Green Monster for an RBI double.
It looked as though Pedroia may have been out in trying to slide around Robinson Cano's tag, but Jeff Kellogg ruled that Pedroia slipped his left hand in there. Cano and Girardi argued.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: The first hit allowed by John Lackey comes via the .227-hitting No. 9 man Francisco Cervelli.
Lackey bounces back to get Brett Gardner to foul out to third and then strike out Derek Jeter for the second time in as many encounters.
Lackey is consistently hitting 94, even 95, on the gun. It was a quality cutter that got Jeter swinging to end the third. The righty looks very good early on.
End 2nd, 0-0: Great piece of pitching by CC Sabathia in that inning.
After striking out Kevin Youkilis on a slider, Sabathia begins his meeting with David Ortiz with a sweeping curve that Ortiz swings through. He then gets him swinging again with a darting heater.
After going up and in at 94 to get Ortiz moving a bit, Sabathia induces a weak grounder to short on a fastball outside.
Had the Red Sox slugger off balance the whole time.
Mike Aviles, in there for his bat (5-for-10 vs. Sabathia), then flew to relatively deep right for the final out.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: If there was ever a campaign put together to get Adrian Gonzalez the Gold Glove Award, the highlight tape could include the first two outs of the second inning.
After making a backhanded stab to rob Mark Teixeira of a hit, Gonzalez made a play identical to the one he made in John Lackey's last start, charging a tapper and then flipping sideways (almost backwards as he is well onto the grass) to Lackey covering.
That's not nearly as easy as Gonzalez makes it look.
The final out was a lazy fly to Make Aviles, his first chance as an outfielder since college. Don't give him the Gold Glove just yet.
End 1st, 0-0: If we get the John Lackey we've seen plenty of in the past month (and the one we witnessed in the first inning), we could be in for a marvelous duel today.
CC Sabathia matches Lackey's 1-2-3 inning, also getting a strikeout of the No. 2 hitter. It is just the fourth time in the last 19 games that Dustin Pedroia has struck out.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Only throwing this out there because people love to get all worked up over such stuff, but one can imagine that the first pitch John Lackey threw to Derek Jeter, a fastball behind Jeter's feet, had some purpose to it.
You might remember the Eduardo Nunez slide into Dustin Pedroia last night, a play some thought was just a shade on the dirty side of things.
Then you remember that Lackey has hit two more batters this year than anyone in baseball. Nothing to see here, folks, although Jeter did say something to home plate umpire Mark Carlson after the pitch.
Lackey eventually fanned Jeter, the K getting sandwiched between fly outs to left by Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson.
4:11 p.m.: John Lackey, whose ERA during day games is 8.10, throws strike one to Brett Gardner. Keep it here for all the in-game analysis.
4:05 p.m.: Hold a gun to my head and I'm just like the rest of you — I would be shocked if the Red Sox did not make the playoffs.
However, it's still worth watching what takes place with the Angels, the closest team in the wild card race.
Anaheim is eight games back of Boston in the loss column. But that was 10 games just a few days ago, and with Weaver, Haren and a surging Santana, the Angels have the arms that can reel off a bunch of wins in a row.
Again, not saying they will even sniff the Red Sox, but if they gain two more games in the next week or so, and then maybe two more before the end of the month, you might have a race on your hands.
That means that while the Sox are in Minnesota early next week, some with an interest in the standings will be watching what goes on in New York, where the Yankees will be hosting the Angels. Boston can certainly improve upon its position relative to the Yanks if Anaheim comes in and wins that series. It can move a bit closer to burying the Angels if New York stays hot at home.
Just something to think about. I hate when people speak in such definitive terms like, "The Red Sox and Yankees are making the playoffs." Yes, it's very, very likely. But I'm 41 and I've already seen crazier things in this sport.
2:47 p.m.: We mentioned in this piece on the stellar Yankees bullpen, that one reason Joe Girardi was able to go to Boone Logan with two outs in the fifth inning was because of the presence of Rafael Soriano.
Essentially, New York's pen is that much deeper with Soriano in the fold.
Another reason Girardi was not shy about making the move lies in his starter today. CC Sabathia has gone at least seven innings in each of his last 10 starts, lasting eight or more five times in that span.
But does that get thrown out the window against the Red Sox? No, not entirely, but consider this. In Sabathia's last 16 starts, only twice has he failed to finish seven frames and both times it came against Boston. He went 6 2/3 in each of those appearances, and also had his shortest start of the year (5 2/3 innings) here at Fenway Park on April 10.
Sabathia is 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in seven starts against the Sox over the last two years.
2:13 p.m.: Terry Francona was asked about Mike Aviles getting a look in right, and in a lot of ways it was about the matchups.
Darnell McDonald is just 1-for-10 against CC Sabathia, while Aviles is 5-for-10.
When the Red Sox acquired Aviles, the thought was that they would give him a look out there, despite the fact that he had not played outfield since his days at Concordia.
It was a tad surprising to see that debut come against the Yankees on national TV, but the Red Sox cannot be concerned with such things.They are thinking long term.
"This is something that's going to help us," Francona said.
When the manager approached Aviles about the role, Aviles told him that he was an "arrogant and confident." That made the decision that much easier. Well, that and the fact that the Sox love Aviles' athleticism.
So we will see how he handles things in the corner.
As for your one-time starting right fielder, J.D. Drew, he took swings off a tee on Friday. That's the first time he has done so since going on the disabled list with a left shoulder impingement.
Francona said he is hopeful to get Drew back for the last six weeks of the season, which would put him on track for a return a couple of weeks from now.
In other matters, here is the Yankees lineup against John Lackey:
Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 3B
Jorge Posada, DH
Francisco Cervelli, C
Of the eight Yankees who have seen Lackey, six have averages against him of at least .306, including each of the first five. And many are legit sample sizes. Nick Swisher is the lone NY starter with ugly numbers vs. the right, going 7-for-54 (.130) with 21 strikeouts.
12:29 p.m.: An interesting look for Terry Francona's crew today. Mike Aviles will make his major league debut in the outfield, playing right and batting sixth.
In fact, Aviles has not played outfield since college. Not one inning. And we know that right field at Fenway is not the easiest to learn. Should be interesting to see how he performs.
Aviles is 5-for-10 with a double against CC Sabathia, so it's as good a time as any to get him in there.
Have a look:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Aviles, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Marco Scutaro, SS
Youkilis is 10-for-29 (.345) with four extra-base hits against Sabathia. Scutaro is 10-for-33 (.303).
Heading downstairs. Back in an hour or two.
12:13 p.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where it is Dylan's second birthday, according to the giant video board above the bleachers. Happy birthday, Dylan.
Lineups should be over in just a moment.
8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox will turn to John Lackey on Saturday afternoon in an effort to slow down the surging New York Yankees.
The Yankees' winning streak reached eight games with a 3-2 triumph in the series opener Friday night. The result pushed New York into first place in the division for the first time in a month.
Lackey, who is 4-0 with a 3.31 ERA in his last five starts, has faced the Yankees just one time in 2011. He allowed six runs in five innings of that meeting, but it was good enough to get the win in Boston's first victory of the season.
New York will turn to its ace, CC Sabathia. He leads the majors with 16 wins, but is 0-3 with a 6.16 ERA against the Red Sox this year.
First pitch from Lackey is expected at 4:10 p.m.
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