Final, Red Sox 9-5: Jonathan Papelbon has now thrown 17 scoreless innings in his last 17 games. It’s his longest run since 2006 and the last inning of that streak has secured first place for the Red Sox.
Boston goes back on top by 1 1/2 games and it has a monstrous edge in the pitching matchup Thursday night when A.J. Burnett goes against Jon Lester.
That’s another 7:10 p.m. affair. See you then.
End 8th, Red Sox 9-5: In case you missed a look at why this has quietly become one of Jason Varitek’s best seasons with the Red Sox, click here, but take into account that his numbers are even better now.
Varitek has chipped in three RBIs tonight after hammering a two-run shot in the eighth.
That gives Jonathan Papelbon more room to work, but takes away his save opportunity.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 7-5: The Yankees had some solid contact against Daniel Bard in the eighth. Daniel Bard had some solid defense behind him.
Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia made the first two outs of the ining on nearly identical gems. Both players picked hard shots on the short hop with the backhand.
Scutaro’s throw bounced to first, but it was an easy hop for Adrian Gonzalez.
Bard finished the frame by blowing a 98 mph fastball past Eric Chavez.
So good. So good. So annoying.
End 7th, Red Sox 7-5: Carl Crawford bounces into a 3-6-3 double play to finish the seventh, turning this one over to Daniel Bard, whose newest scoreless streak is at 8 2/3 innings.
Josh Beckett’s final line: 7 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 8 K.
9:56 p.m.: Boone Logan is left in to face David Ortiz, whom he strikes out. That’s it for Logan, who is replaced by Luis Ayala.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-5: This won’t be the best line of Josh Beckett’s remarkable season, but he ended it in a way that has to make him happy, with the definition of the shutdown inning.
Facing the 2-3-4 hitters in the Yankees lineup, Beckett uses just nine pitches and doesn’t allow a ball out of the infield.
Curtis Granderson was Beckett’s eighth strikeout victim.
Terry Francona can go all Bard and Pap on these guys now.
End 6th, Red Sox 7-5: Boone Logan, the only lefty out there in the Yankees bullpen, did not do his job. Jacoby Ellsbury has made a lot of guys fail to do their job this year.
Ellsbury just smacked his first career opposite-field home run, a shot into the first row of the Monster seats to snap the tie.
Ellsbury has 24 homers and owns 76 RBIs from the leadoff spot. Ian Kinsler is second in that category at 58.
Josh Beckett, now in line for a win, returns to begin the seventh.
9:34 p.m.: The quirks of Fenway Park. They may have had a hand in Josh Reddick’s misplay in the top of the sixth, and they bit the Yankees in the arse in the bottom half.
After Josh Reddick battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a one-out walk, Jason Varitek hit an excuse-me cue shot down the third-base line.
Left fielder Brett Gardner ran over as if it was going to hit on the facing of the angled short wall, and perhaps bounce back out for for a single.
But the ball skipped along the edge of the wall and made it down the line, causing Gardner to retreat into the corner as Reddick scored easily with the tying run.
Phil Hughes got one more out before Joe Girardi brought the hook. Here comes Boone Logan to face Jacoby Ellsbury with the go-ahead run on second.
Mid 6th, Yankees 5-4: If you stepped away for a root beer or a cupcake or whatever you might fancy at 9:22 p.m., you missed plenty.
And it all began with a curveball that barely clipped Mark Teixeira’s toe.
Robinson Cano followed the HBP with a run-scoring double (Teixeira had moved up on a wild pitch). A walk followed before the play that will be discussed after this one, regardless of what happens going forward.
Eric Chavez doubled into the corner in right and the ball got past Josh Reddick, rolling out beyond the Foxwoods sign as two runs scored and Chavez went all the way to third. A faster runner may have actually scored on the play.
Eduardo Nunez had a sacrifice fly to give the Yankees the lead as Alfredo Aceves warmed in the Red Sox bullpen.
The five runs (four earned) allowed by Josh Beckett match a season high. His pitch count is 102. He may be finished.
Phil Hughes starts the bottom of the sixth for New York.
End 5th, Red Sox 4-1: I told a colleague (on IM, so it was not out loud) that the 3-2 pitch that Phil Hughes was about to throw to David Ortiz was a big one in this game.
With a man on first and two outs, Hughes had a chance to escape the meat of the order unscathed, or he would set himself up for a sticky situation with a walk.
Well, Ortiz made it much worse than that for Hughes as he crushed a two-run homer to center field. It is Ortiz’s 28th of the season and extends his season-high hitting streak to 14 games (27-for-52, .519).
Adrian Gonzalez had singled ahead of the home run.
It was noted that Ortiz took his sweet time with the trot.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Josh Beckett has had just one 1-2-3 inning but there really hasn’t been a threat outside of the third, and even that required a two-out bloop hit that was nearly caught.
Derek Jeter singled with two outs in the fifth. Beckett then induced a fly to right off the bat of Curtis Granderson to finish the frame at 80 pitches.
You know what’s amazing? There is only one more homestand for the Red Sox after this one.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Good bounceback inning for Phil Hughes, although we have to take into account the hitters he was facing.
The top of the order will have its third crack at Hughes in the fifth after Josh Reddick, Jason Varitek and Marco Scutaro go quietly in the fourth.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Two more strikeouts for Josh Beckett gives him six overall.
There was a two-out walk to Eric Chavez, but Beckett is just fine right now. The righty’s pitch count is at 65.
Beckett is now tied with Smokey Joe Wood for seventh on the all-time strikeouts list for the Red Sox.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: The Red Sox have been searching far and wide for a big hit for two nights now. They may have gotten one in the third, and it spoiled a bit of strategy on the part of Joe Girardi.
Marco Scutaro singled and Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to begin the inning. Dustin Pedroia then drove in the equalizer (hockey term) with a grounder to third.
After Phil Hughes got Adrian Gonzalez to loft a lazy fly to center, Girardi elected to walk David Ortiz, who entered 7-for-15 against Hughes, and pitch to Jed Lowrie, who often struggles against right-handers.
Some logic behind the move, but Lowrie made him pay with a single down the right-field line to score Ellsbury.
Mid 3rd, Yankees 1-0: The Yankees get to Josh Beckett in a lengthy third inning, during which he threw 22 pitches.
Eduardo Nunez led off with a hustle double on a ball cut off in the left-center field gap. He moved to third and later scored on Derek Jeter’s first-pitch base hit to center with two outs.
Jeter fought off a 94 mph fastball on the inside half with a bloop to center that was in and then out of the glove of a sliding Jacoby Ellsbury. It was the 3,060th hit of Jeter’s career, tying him with Craig Biggio for 20th on the all-time list.
Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli continues to have odd things going on around him right now. After all the drama of last night, he had a strange at-bat against Josh Beckett following the Nunez double.
Cervelli showed bunt and bailed on a pitch that broke over the plate, which gave the Cervelli haters out there something to laugh about. He also glared out at Beckett, who glared back after a cutter nearly caused him to bail again but was right down Broadway (the one in Somerville, not Manhattan).
The Yankees catcher then fought one off toward Adrian Gonzalez. It bounced off Gonzalez and right to a waiting Dustin Pedroia, who got the out at first. Turns out it was as good as a bunt anyway.
End 2nd, 0-0: A one-out double by Carl Crawford gives the Red Sox some life in the second. It also gives Crawford a seven-game hitting streak against the Yankees, during which he is hitting .577 (15-for-26).
Phil Hughes battles back to get Josh Reddick on a fly to center and Jason Varitek on a three-pitch strikeout.
Boston has left 18 men on base in 11 innings the last two games.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Josh Beckett has retired six straight (one on a sac bunt) since Brett Gardner opened the game with a base hit.
When Robinson Cano went down swinging at a 95 mph fastball up and away to begin the second, it gave Beckett three straight strikeouts.
End 1st, 0-0: We mentioned earlier how big of a start this is for Phil Hughes and the Yankees.
If he looks like he did for portions of the first, he may provide a nice boost.
Hughes showed some good life on a fastball that has been dormant for portions of the season. He finished the frame with a 93 mph heater that got David Ortiz, stranding Dustin Pedroia at first.
So Josh Beckett apparently was upset with Brett Gardner for tipping a pitch after the top of the first. I didn’t see the gesture but we had it on our TV here in the press box.
My take? Grow up, Beckett. That stuff should always be fair game on the field. If you have a guy in the bleacher flashing a light to signal a pitch, that’s no good. If the guy on second sees that a fastball is coming and has a chance to notify his teammate, go for it.
If teams didn’t care about concealing the identity of the next pitch, the catcher would just stand up and yell “fastball, inside corner.” Signs, and all the decoys within them, exist for a reason. If you steal one, more power to you.
OK, back to the game.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The beat goes on for Josh Beckett against Mark Teixeira.
With a man on second and two outs, Beckett strikes out Teixeira on the sixth pitch of their meeting. That makes Teixeira 8-for-45 with 19 strikeouts against Beckett. Gulp.
Brett Gardner led off with a single, partly because I benched him on my fantasy team about 20 minutes before first pitch. He moved to second on a bunt by Derek Jeter before Beckett fanned both Curtis Granderson and Teixeira.
7:11 p.m.: Brett Gardner goes after Josh Beckett’s first pitch and fouls it off to the left side. Get ready for 78 hours of baseball.
7:05 p.m.: Mo Vaughn and John Valentin have stepped to the mound for the first pitch.
Salty and D-Mac to catch them.
6:14 p.m.: Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein met with reporters earlier this afternoon. One of the news items he passed on was that J.D. Drew suffered a sprained finger last night with Pawtucket, but it shouldn’t have a serious impact other than a slight delay in his return.
This gives Josh Reddick a few more games to try to get hot again and secure some playing time down the stretch.
The one big change in the Red Sox lineup is the move of Dustin Pedroia from fourth to second. Terry Francona said he can bat his second baseman anywhere with confidence, of course, but the reason for the move makes sense.
The Yankees are limited to one lefty in their bullpen, Boone Logan, and as Francona notes he is even tougher on right-handed batters. Because of this, the Sox can bunch their lefties tonight and not worry about getting in a bind late in games, even if Logan enters to face Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. They couldn’t do that against CC Sabathia, but with Phil Hughes on the mound it makes sense.
Also, as noted before, Ortiz has had great success against Hughes. Giving him a better chance to get up in the first inning cannot hurt.
Francona summed up his mindset in a rather succinct manner: “We’ll try to beat their starter.” Essentially, bunch your best hitters, because you can, and hope to hammer Hughes early.
That’s something that Boston has done early and late with Hughes, who is 2-4 with a 6.25 ERA against the Sox and who owns an 8.83 ERA at Fenway Park.
This may be too obvious a statement, but this is the kind of game that can end up providing a mammoth boost for the Yankees. If Hughes is able to match Josh Beckett, or even come close, and New York can steal this one, it would be a significant win for the Yanks, who would then be in first place.
OK, I guess that is obvious. Sometimes I like to keep it simple.
Lasagna on the menu tonight. Going to fill up and will be back soon.
5:47 p.m.: It’s like 1997 all over again. Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra and John Valentin were all in the Red Sox clubhouse pregame.
When Mo and David Ortiz did a man hug, the ground shook.
On a completely unrelated note, Terry Francona was asked earlier about Josh Beckett’s tendency to take his time between pitches.
The answer was blunt:
“If I had my choice of him pitching slow and winning and getting a letter from the league, that’s what I would choose.”
With that in mind, here are the guys who will wait out the between-pitch delays:
Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, DH
Eduardo Nunez, 3B
Francisco Cervelli, C
The slumping Gardner is just 7-for-34 (.206) with nine strikeouts against Beckett. Teixeira is 8-for-44 (.182) with 18 strikeouts. Beckett is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four starts against New York this season.
4:38 p.m.: The sun has gone away, but with a glance down below you can still clearly that the Boston media team dispatched of the New York boys this morning at Fenway.
Credit has to go to our pitcher, Henry Spitzer, who spun a beauty in a 4-2 win. Yours truly was 2-for-2 with a run scored, so a contribution was made on the part of NESN.com
Most importantly, the crew raised nearly $500 for the Jimmy Fun, a total matched by AT&T. If you haven’t done your part, and if you still can, please do so here.
As far as pregame updates, everything remains on course for J.D. Drew to rejoin the team tomorrow and for Kevin Youkilis to do so Friday. Youkilis will actually be back in the park Thursday but is not eligible to come off the disabled list until the following day.
Bobby Jenks remains day-to-day, and there really is no timetable for his return to throwing. Terry Francona said Jenks “looks like he’s been through the ringer” and has lost a lot of weight. Look for more on that on the site in a bit.
Francona also confirmed that Ryan Kalish will have neck surgery, ending what was a pretty lost season for the promising outfielder. We will also have that complete story on the site soon.
Back in a few.
3:11 p.m. A slight twist to the lineup today. Dustin Pedroia had hit cleanup in each of his last 12 games, but is being moved back up to the customary No. 2 spot.
David Ortiz will bat cleanup for the first time since July 6.
Have a look:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
Josh Reddick, RF
Jason Varitek, C
Marco Scutaro, SS
It’s not a bad time to get Ortiz moved up one spot. He is 7-for-15 (.467) with a home run, three doubles and 15 RBIs against Phil Hughes.
8 a.m. ET: First place in the American League East will once again be on the line when the Red Sox host the New York Yankees in the second of three straight at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
The two rivals have exchanged the lead in the division nine times since May. A win by the Yankees on Wednesday would make it 10. They trail by a half game in the standings.
The man standing in the way of that would be Josh Beckett, who is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA against New York in 2011. Beckett is coming off a win in Texas a week ago.
The Yankees will counter with Phil Hughes, who was battered around his last time out against Oakland and owns an 8.83 ERA in seven career appearances (three starts) at Fenway Park.
First pitch is 7:10 p.m.