Final, Athletics 15-5: And we get to start the next one in about 13 hours.
What started as a beautiful Friday night at Fenway Park with a possible milestone on the minds of many turned into a game that had Darnell McDonald doing mop-up duty and an approaching hurricane on the minds of many.
The Red Sox picked up a meaningless run in the ninth on a Josh Reddick RBI double.
Weather permitting, Boston will have not one but two chances to try to erase the sting of this one. As I’m sure you know, it’s a noon start for game one tomorrow and a 5 p.m. start for game two, provided the first game isn’t anything like this one.
Jon Lester goes in the opener and Erik Bedard in the nightcap. Check the live blog early and often for all the weather updates. Thanks for following along tonight.
Mid 9th, Athletics 15-4: All things considered, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.
Darnell McDonald threw the first pitch about 21 feet too high and walked the first two men he faced. Both eventually scored on a wall-scraping two-run double by Josh Willingham, but that was an out in many other parks.
You know, the sad part of all this is that Matt Albers was brought in to get six outs and got knocked all around the park. That’s what caused the move to McDonald, which I’m sure wasn’t one Terry Francona wanted to make, even though it added to the entertainment value here.
McDonald reached as high as 89 on the gun.
End 8th, Athletics 13-4: The A’s 13 runs are the most by a visiting team at Fenway since Tampa Bay had 16 in a rout of the Red Sox on April 11.
And with that, we get to see Darnell McDonald pitch an inning. Wish I was kidding about that. Actually no I don’t. This should be fun.
Mid 8th, Athletics 13-4: More ugliness from Matt Albers in the eighth.
Albers says it’s a matter of throwing more strikes. Obviously, you have to throw strikes to the right place. His velocity is still up, so it seems to be a matter of location, and right now he is not even close to where he needs to be.
The A’s used three doubles, a single and a walk to plate four more in the eighth.
Albers’ ERA is at 4.33. It was 2.09 to start the month. And with his plunge the Red Sox are suddenly in a situation where they need to figure out who that “seventh-inning guy” is. Aceves? Wheeler? Certainly can’t be Albers right now. He needs to get some things fixed before being considered for anything like that.
End 7th, Athletics 9-4: It has not been a great night for Jed Lowrie, but the pitched that run him up to end the seventh seemed to be low and away.
Lowrie didn’t like the call, nor did the 38,000 or so on hand, except for the guy I saw wearing an old Reggie Jackson A’s jersey earlier today. He liked it.
Matt Albers has emerged from the pen to pitch in another losing situation. Terry Francona’s use of Albers in the past few days could signal one of two things. Either he will not be using him in big situations anytime soon, or he’s just trying to get him right in order to bring him back when the pressure is on. Time will tell.
9:50 p.m.: A little life at Fenway Park after Dustin Pedroia walks and David Ortiz doubles with two down in the seventh.
Grant Balfour will come in to face Jed Lowrie, who was 0-for-3 against lefty Gio Gonzalez and is a .214 hitter against right-handers.
Mid 7th, Athletics 9-4: Not sure if you can call a run that gives you a five-run lead as opposed to a four-run lead in the seventh an insurance run, but against an offense like the Red Sox every bit helps.
Cliff Pennington’s third hit of the game was an RBI double to left on a ball that hit right at the base of the wall. Mike Aviles probably should’ve caught it, but like so many before him, he shied away from his first real encounter the big scary monster in left field.
End 6th, Athletics 8-4: The Red Sox were a big hit away from making this thiing a whole lot more interesting, but Jacoby Ellsbury popped to third to finish the sixth.
If all of the scores hold up, the Tampa Bay Rays, the team nobody in the land but my zany self is giving a chance, pulls within eight games of the Sox and Yanks in the loss column. Seven remaining against Boston and six against New York for Tampa Bay.
Not saying it will happen, just like a lot about that team and not completely ready to bury them, even after they lost a series at home against Detroit.
9:22 p.m.: With two on and two outs in the sixth, Jacoby Ellsbury looms. That’s reason enough for Bob Melvin to go to the bullpen.
Melvin calls on Brian Fuentes to face Ellsbury.
Mid 6th, Athletics 8-4: If the Red Sox get a run every inning, as they did in the sixth, and Scott Atchison continues to do his job, who knows where we will be when this thing gets near the end.
Atchison has allowed just a hit in two scoreless innings. He’ll get at least one more.
End 5th, Athletics 8-4: Blowouts, close games, wins, losses…it seems Jacoby Ellsbury is always doing something.
Ellsbury, who doubled and scored in the first, just tripled and scored in the fifth. You see a three-bagger off the Green Monster once in a while when an outfielder lets the carom bounce over his head or something. But you usually need Ellsbury-like legs to make it.
Ellsbury scored on Marco Scutaro’s grounder to shortstop.
Mid 5th, Athletics 8-3: It’s sometimes funny to see Scott Atchison come and go from the clubhouse.
He has done it so often that it has become a bit of a joke with some players, who along with Atchison laugh about each of his moves. They hug sarcastically, basically have a good time with it.
One reason they can do so is because everyone likes him, and everyone appreciates his job. It’s thankless, but it can reap rewards fro the team down the road.
Atchison begins his bullpen-saving effort with a scoreless fifth.
End 4th, Athletics 8-3: It’s going to one of those nights.
Tim Wakefield will not get his 200th win but you cannot count the Red Sox out of this one yet.
Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz go back to back to begin the fourth. Pedroia matches his career high with his 17th and Ortiz ups his team lead with his 26th.
Scott Atchison has jogged in to eat up two or three innings.
Wakefield’s line looks like this: 4 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 2 HR.
Mid 4th, Athletics 8-1: Terry Francona had three quotes this afternoon that were nearly identical. The gist of having Scott Atchison up in place of Ryan Lavarnway was to protect the bullpen if someone had a disastrous start.
That disastrous start has occured. Oakland just scored six runs on two home runs, a double, two walks, a passed ball and maybe some other stuff. It was ugly.
Atchison got up in the bullpen before Josh Willingham’s two-run homer, which came moments after Hideki Matsui’s two-run double. Scott Sizemore had a solo shot earlier in the inning.
Four of the runs were unearned due to a passed ball on a strike three. Mike Aviles had an error later on but it didn’t hurt.
Atchison has since sat down. They may try to squeeze another inning out of Wakefield. But you won’t be seeing win No. 200 tonight, unless there’s a pretty significant rally here.
End 3rd, Athletics 2-1: That’s a tidy nine-pitch inning for Gio Gonzalez, who has retired seven in a row since a David Ortiz single in the first.
Thoughts and discussion in the press box is naturally turning to tomorrow, which promises to be an interesting day. If you are coming to the 5 p.m. game, bring your slicker and be prepared for delay or two…it should be wet by then.
Because of the media attention this storm is getting, rightfully so, I’m wondering if even half the park will be filled for that one. Hope to see you all here, but certainly understand the desire to stay safe.
Mid 3rd, Athletics 2-1: Runners all over the bases in the first two innings for the A’s. None in the third.
Tim Wakefield picks up his first two strikeouts to finish a 1-2-3 frame. Wakefield has a 2.25 ERA in the third inning this year. His ERA in all other innings combined is exactly twice that at 5.50.
End 2nd, Athletics 2-1: I’m paid to talk about the game in front of me, but I admit to taking a peak at the latest A.J. Burnett meltdown.
Burnett’s second inning just went like this: Ground out, homer, double, double, double, double, homer, error (on Burnett), double play.
Six runs for the Orioles in the inning. Unreal.
No runs for the Red Sox in the second. Not so unreal. Gio Gonzalez is a pretty good pitcher, and if he settles in will give this team some fits. The bottom of the order went 1-2-3.
Mid 2nd, Athletics 2-1: Was talking with a colleague before the game. We both respect Tim Wakefield very much but the point was raised that he is somewhat due to get knocked around — it’s simply the nature of his craft.
Wakefield has been very consistent for the Red Sox of late, despite the fruitless pursuit of 200 wins. The line we came up with when making our bold prediction over pregame hot dogs was four innings, eight runs.
Not saying that’s going to happen. Heck, that would be his worst start of the season (maybe the pork products went to our head). But the A’s are a hot offense and the knuckler just ain’t doin’ much right now.
Five of the first 10 Oakland hitters had hits. Brandon Allen led off the second with a double and scored on a base hit by David DeJesus. One out later, Cliff Pennington drove in DeJesus with the go-ahead tally.
Jemile Weeks added a hard hit later in the inning and Wakefield only escaped when Marco Scutaro caught a liner ticketed for left-center field.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: It wasn’t a home run, but Adrian Gonzalez continues his hot streak with an RBI single in the bottom of the first.
The base hit up the middle drove in Jacoby Ellsbury from third. He doubled down the left-field line to start it off and then stole third.
The Red Sox have scored in the first inning in each of the last four games, amassing eight runs in that process.
David Ortiz had a wall-ball single with two outs that pushed Gonzalez to second but Jed Lowrie struck out on Gio Gonzalez’s 28th pitch.
Mid 1st, 0-0: It seems as if every sport gets described as a game of inches from time to time, but it is certainly apt after the way the first inning played out.
Tim Wakefield’s second pitch of the game was hammered by Jemile Weeks off the top of the center-field wall, less than a foot from a home run.
The A’s were that close to having a 1-0 lead. Instead, they waste the double when Wakefield gets the next three in order.
Hideki Matsui grounded to second for the second out of the inning. He complained of catcher’s interference earlier in the at-bat, and should’ve been given the call based on replays.
7:10 p.m.: Tim Wakefield throws a strike to Jemile Weeks, who will run like the wind if he gets on against the knuckleballer. Settle in for what could be a historic night.
7:05 p.m.: There was a moment of silence for the late Mike Flanagan, after which came the customary march of the relievers out to the bullpen.
Hopefully, with two on tap for tomorrow, they will not be needed much tonight.
6:02 p.m.: Saw Tim Wakefield cruising through the Red Sox clubhouse about an hour ago. Looked like he was ready to go.
Then again, Wakefield has a pretty even demeanor. Maybe he’s pooping his pants at the thought of going 0-for-6 in his quest for 200. Hard to tell.
I kid. Wake is more than prepared, and has had some pretty good results against the A’s in his career. Here is the Oakland lineup, which has actually been producing quite a bit of late (fourth in AL in runs scored since the All-Star break):
Jemile Weeks, 2B
Coco Crisp, CF
Hideki Matsui, LF
Josh Willingham, DH
Brandon Allen, 1B
David DeJesus, RF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Cliff Pennington, SS
Scott Sizemore, 3B
Suzuki has had the most success against Wakefield, going 6-for-16 (.375) with two home runs, one double and two walks.
Oakland is batting .279 since the break after hitting just .233 before it. It ranks second in the AL in on-base percentage, double and triples in that span and third in walks and slugging. This is not an offense to be taken lightly right now.
4:46 p.m.: As Kevin Youkilis takes grounders down below in preparation for a rehab stint early next week, here are a few updates.
Beginning with Youkilis, he will get some at-bats in Tuesday and Wednesday in the minors.
J.D. Drew will be DHing tonight at Lowell, as planned. He should be joining Pawtucket next week as well.
Bobby Jenks may be on that path as well. He is scheduled to throw an inning for Salem tomorrow and then join the PawSox on the road, weather permitting.
Also, the move we Tweeted earlier was Scott Atchison up and Ryan Lavarnway down. Lavarnway was not able to offer much off the bench since he was a catcher/DH, and with three games bunched together, Francona wanted some protection for the bullpen. Hence the move.
Francona said Lavarnway will be back as part of September call-ups, maybe after the International League playoffs. He can still be a part of the postseason roster because of loopholes with DL’d players.
Finally, this is just a night off for Carl Crawford. Francona said he had some minor cramping last night in Texas and with three games in 26 hours or so, all after an overnight flight from Texas, many guys will get breathers.
“We’re trying to give as many guys some time off as we can,” Francona said. “There’s only so much we can do. Thought Carl was cramping a little last night during the game so with the late arrival and everything, thought it would be a good time.”
As mentioned earlier, the oddity of it all is that we see Mike Aviles play left field for the first time in his professional career with Tim Wakefield on the mound at Fenway Park. Not saying Aviles cannot handle it, but this is a tricky left field that makes newbies look silly, and Wakefield is no stranger to the fly ball — nearly 50 percent of balls in play off him are in the air.
Just something to watch for tonight.
OK, back in a bit with some more for you.
3:12 p.m.: There is a left-hander on the mound, but Carl Crawford’s been heating up. Seems a tad odd that he’s not in there tonight, especially since it gives the Red Sox a shakier defensive outfield with Tim Wakefield, who gets outs in the air, on the mound.
Mike Aviles is in left field in Crawford’s place. It is Aviles’ first ever appearance in that spot. Darnell McDonald is in right. Here is the lineup as Wakefield aims once more for that elusive milestone.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, 3B
Mike Aviles, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Darnell McDonald, RF
3:00 p.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where there is a slight hockey buzz on a sunny day in August.
The Frozen Fenway 2012 announcement was officially made here today. The games will be UVM-UMass and UNH-Maine. Looked it up and Tim Thomas has a day game at home that day, which should give him just enough time to head over to Fenway and catch some of his Catamounts’ victory over the Minutemen.
As far as baseball is concerned, it will be played as well. Tonight. Under the lights. We should have the lineups over in a moment.
8 a.m. ET: What is sure to be a wild weekend at Fenway Park begins on a potentially historic note Friday night as Tim Wakefield makes another stab at his 200th career win in the Red Sox’ series opener with the Oakland Athletics.
Wakefield has fallen short of the milestone five straight times, despite posting three quality starts, one complete game and another outing in which he left with the lead. The knuckleballer is 5-3 with a 3.09 ERA in his career at Fenway Park against Oakland.
The A’s are coming off a 22-9 drubbing in New York in a game in which they gave up a major league-record three grand slams.
Gio Gonzalez will try to spare the Oakland bullpen when he gets the nod in the opener. The lefty owns a 5.64 ERA in four career starts against Boston.
Friday’s game starts at 7:10 p.m. Saturday will see a doubleheader with start times of noon and 5 p.m., a scenario set up in order to avoid the eventual impact of Hurricane Irene.
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