Final, Orioles 7-5: The Red Sox got a gift to begin the ninth when Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a catcher’s interference.
Dustin Pedroia then missed a hit down the line by a a few feet. He followed that up by grounding into a double play, which just sapped any energy left in this place.
Adrian Gonzalez grounded to first to end it, and a great opportunity to get some distance with the Rays goes by the board.
We’ll head down for some reaction. Look for all the news on the site later on, and watch out for the live blog tomorrow in the regular season home finale.
Mid 9th, Orioles 7-5: Here comes Jim Johnson to face the top of the order.
The Rays have lost. As we sit here Boston’s lead in the loss column is two, and New York’s magic number to clinch the division is down to four. Both can change if Johnson does his job.
10:34 p.m.: A walk and a single with two outs in the top of the ninth have ended the outing for Felix Doubront.
Junichi Tazawa is on to try to get one very big out.
If you’re looking ahead, Jacoby Ellsbury is 2-for-11 against Orioles closer Jim Johnson. Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-10 and Adrian Gonzalez is 1-for-4.
That doesn’t say much, but we’re here to provide for all those in search of really lame stats.
End 8th, Orioles 7-5: If there’s a comeback, it will have to happen in the ninth.
Boston goes in order in the eighth. It will have the top of the order up in the ninth.
Baltimore will look for some insurance against Felix Doubront.
Tampa Bay heads to the ninth in New York trailing 5-0. The margin in the loss column may remain one game.
Mid 8th, Orioles 7-5: If you think you haven’t seen that in a long time, you’re right. Jonathan Papelbon just blew a save for the first time since May 13 and allowed a run for the first time in over two months.
Papelbon struck out Chris Davis on three pitches and had an 0-2 count on Nolan Reimold, but Reimold kept the inning alive by grounding a base hit to left.
Robert Andino, who had that huge at-bat against Erik Bedard way back in the third, then worked a 3-2 count before lining a double into the corner in right.
And now you have a situation where Bard is gone, Papelbon has thrown 14 pitches and you’re losing. I agree completely with the move there. I do. But when you go for it so early and it fails right away, it stings even more.
Felix Doubront will pitch the ninth.
10:00 p.m.: Well then.
We have a somewhat surprising maneuver here, although it’s hard to fault Terry Francona for going with one of the hottest pitchers around.
After Daniel Bard allows two to reach with one out in the eighth, Francona has called on Jonathan Papelbon for a very difficult five-out save.
Papelbon has a 22-inning scoreless streak and has converted 25 save chances in a row.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-4: The maneuvering by the Orioles pays off as Willie Eyre gets Jed Lowrie and Carl Crawford.
Give the O’s credit. After Boston scored 18 runs last night and had five on the board in the first four innings of this one, you had the sense they would just pile on. But Baltimore’s pen has helped turn what was a sloppy affair early into something a bit more palatable.
9:50 p.m.: One of the best moments in baseball is when a pitcher takes over for a pitcher with no outs in an inning, gets the first out, and then gets taken out.
It’s akin to….ah, forget it. You got the idea with the last post. Baltimore is doing its best Joe Maddon impression by burning through every one of their available arms out there.
That’s what happens in September. Teams have 142 minor leaguers in their pen so they can do this kind of stuff. Not saying it won’t work or that they shouldn’t use all their available resources, but it grinds the game to a halt.
After Jed Lowrie is announced as a pinch hitter for Josh Reddick, in comes righty Willie Eyre.
9:45 p.m.: One of the best moments in baseball is when a pitcher starts an inning, gives up a hit and then gets taken out (sarcasm).
It’s akin to football when a team scores, there’s a commercial break, and then there’s another after the ensuing kickoff.
Clay Rapada takes over for Jo-Jo Reyes after Adrian Gonzalez just ripped a single to improve to 8-for-11 in the series.
Gonzalez’s average is up .340. That’s significant because it was just a few points ahead of Michael Young and Miguel Cabrera before yesterday began.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-4: Terry Francona is rolling the dice, but just a tad, but bringing in Daniel Bard earlier than he’s been in a game since April 20.
But with a very quick seventh (11 pitches), Bard is in great shape to power through the eighth as well.
The Rays just had the bases loaded an no outs in the seventh and failed to score. They are down 5-0.
End 6th, Red Sox 5-4: Jo-Jo Reyes has certainly settled things down for the Orioles.
He throws a scoreless sixth, and we turn to Daniel Bard. We predicted earlier that this might be a night where Bard and Jonathan Papelbon get more than an inning of work. That seems to be the case, although how it is split up remains to be seen.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-4: Matt Albers has quietly tossed three scoreless innings over his last three outings.
It’s hard to imagine him looking like he did earlier in the year, but you never know. Maybe he’s figured something out. At the very least, he’s locating better, and has four strikeouts against zero walks in that span.
He did hit a batter in the sixth, but let me just get my point out, OK?
Both Franklin Morales and Daniel bard wer up in the pen. Only Bard is now. You think Tito wants this one?
End 5th, Red Sox 5-4: Baltimore pitching has its first 1-2-3 inning of the night. It included back-to-back strikeouts of Josh Reddick and Carl Crawford to start it out.
I have coffee.
Oh, Matt Albers is in to protect a one-run lead in the sixth inning of a critical game in late September.
That’s 5 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for Scott Atchison since the start of the Tampa Bay series here.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-4: When Terry Francona was asked why he took Scott Atchison out after just four outs last night, he said he wanted to have him around for tonight.
Good move on that end.
Francona also said he didn’t want Atchison facing Vladimir Guerrero, who was due up right after Atchison was removed.
In their first meeting tonight, Guerrero ripped a single to center.
But the Orioles elected to send Guerrero on a 3-2 pitch to Matt Wieters and it turned into a disaster, on several fronts. Wieters struck out when it was ruled he went around (he didn’t) and Guerrero was called out at second when it was ruled Marco Scutaro tagged him in time (he didn’t). Baltimore manager Buck Showalter was ejected for rightfully arguing.
Adam Jones followed with a hit and he was also thrown out, again on a very questionable tag. Jones flings his helmet in disgust after arguing with Mike Winters, the crew chief.
Shaky frame for the umps there.
End 4th, Red Sox 5-4: If you have your kids with you, and you want to show them how beautiful this game can be, just pop in some Thomas and Friends.
My employers probably wouldn’t like me saying that, but they can stick it. Not many there who would even understand.
Jacoby Ellsbury greeted Jo-Jo Reyes with a base hit that loaded the bases. After Dustin Pedroia struck out, Reyes got what he needed, a hard chopper to first that Mark Reynolds fielded and came home for the second out.
The return throw to first was there in plenty of time, but Reynolds just missed it. Mike Aviles came home on the error, the fourth unearned run of the game.
Ellsbury’s hit did many things. It gave him 200 for the season and made him and Adrian Gonzalez the third trio in team history to reach that mark in the same year. It also gave him a hit in 32 straight games against the O’s, now tied for the longest ever vs. Baltimore.
8:45 p.m.: As we so boldly predicted, there would be more scoring, and it will only get worse. Or better. Depending on who you root for.
Rick VandenHurk walked Marco Scutaro to start the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled and Mike Aviles drove in Scutaro with a base hit to left. It’s 4-4 and Jo-Jo Reyes, a lefty, is on to pitch.
Mid 4th, Orioles 4-3: Scott Atchison improved to 1-0 on the season last night. I would not be shocked if he improves to 2-0 tonight.
Atchison worked around a single and a wild pitch to get back to the dugout.
Lots of walking around and exercising in the Boston bullpen. Nobody is throwing right now.
End 3rd, Orioles 4-3: The final score will not be 4-3. I can guarantee it.
But that’s where it is right now after Dustin Pedroia doubled and Adrian Gonzalez homered into the Monster seats.
Hampered by a calf problem and perhaps some shoulder pain, Gonzalez has quietly exploded the last two days. He is 7-for-9 with two doubles, one home run and four RBIs.
Because he has the ability to go without much side work, Bedard could come back after only one session. But you wonder how many starts it will take him to get back to where he was.
When Bedard came off the DL before his last start with Seattle, he threw 1 2/3 innings, then threw five, five, six and six in his next four outings.
He’ll get one more start in the regular season. Even if he looks more refined, how comfortable with him as your Game 3 starter if you have almost no expectation of a lengthy start. That makes Clay Buchholz’s possible return that much bigger. Not to take that start, but perhaps to be the piggyback pitcher for a short Bedard outing.
Bedard has thrown at least 100 pitches three times since June 27, almost three months ago (in case you don’t have your calendar).
Mid 3rd, Orioles 4-1: That is now 13 times in 20 games this month that a Red Sox starter has lasted five innings or less.
Three of the runs were unearned and the Josh Reddick error was huge, but Erik Bedard was unable to rein it back in.
Naturally, Scott Atchison comes on and gets a quick out to end it.
Bedard’s line: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K.
8:13 p.m.: If the Orioles end up winning this one, they may look back on Robert Andino’s at-bat in the third as a watershed moment.
Andino, batting with one out, stayed up there for 13 pitches, the last of which he lined into left field for a single. That set the tone for a marathon inning for Erik Bedard, who just lost it.
One out later, Nick Markakis doubled on a 3-2 pitch to score Andino. Bedard should’ve been out of the inning on the next batter, but Josh Reddick misjudged Vladimir Guerrero’s liner to right for a huge error.
Forced to work a bit more, Bedard could not find the zone. He walked Matt Wieters and Adam Jones before giving up a 3-2 single to Mark Reynolds that scored a pair. That does it for Bedard, who gives way to Scott Atchison, now on for the second night of save-me work.
Bedard had six two-strike counts in the inning and couldn’t put anyone away. He lacked bite in his ability to finish, and then lacked location completely as the inning dragged on. That’s a statement from Captain Obvious.
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: A line-drive double play ends the bottom of the second. Jacoby Ellsbury ripped one to second base, where Robert Andino snagged it and threw to first to double off Mike Aviles.
The Yankees are already up 1-0 and threatening for more in the second.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Erik Bedard threw 13 pitches in the first inning. He threw 12 in the second.
At this rate, he’ll need zero pitches to retired the side in the top of the 14th.
Adam Jones singled with one out before Bedard induced a pair of grounders.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: It could’ve been a lot worse for Rick VandenHurk and the Orioles in the first.
In a span of six pitches in the first, VandenHurk gave up a double to Dustin Pedroia, another to Adrian Gonzalez to score a run and then walked David Ortiz on four pitches.
There would later be a single by Carl Crawford, but VandenHurk recovered well enough to leave the bases loaded. The last out came on Marco Scutaro’s fly to the wall in left (do they have a name for that wall?).
When Ric Flair was in the Red Sox clubhouse pregame, Josh Reddick was inspired, turning to a staffer to make the request to switch his walk-up music back to what Flair used for his entrances. Reddick used that theme for a week or two earlier in the year, but got away from it. Until Flair came back.
By the way, Flair announced Pedroia’s name when he came to the plate and added a “Wooooooo” at the end of it.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The pitch count will be monitored very closely tonight with Erik Bedard. In part because Vladimir Guerrero can’t run all that well anymore, it’s at a very workable 13.
With two outs, Nick Markakis singled. Guerrero chopped the very next pitch slowly to third. Most other runners would’ve beaten it out, but Guerrero was a half-step too late.
Solid return for Bedard, whose issues haven’t been his stuff. It’s just a matter of avoiding the maladies.
7:09 p.m.: Erik Bedard has thrown his first real pitch since Sept. 3. Keep it here for all the action.
6:43 p.m.: Before getting some much-needed chow, here are links to a few Red Sox-related items.
John Lackey won’t be skipped, but he may get pushed back a day.
Not the best of news on Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez. One remains stuck in neutral, the other will have to play through pain.
The great John Beattie weighs in on Jacoby Ellsbury’s MVP chances, as well as how him winning the award would be received. That’s a train I started months ago while everybody figured Gonzalez was a shoo-in (pat on back), but John takes a great angle to the whole debate.
That should get you thinking baseball.
6:12 p.m.: As the Orioles wrap up batting practice and the crew gets the field ready to play, we start to consider what Erik Bedard is going to give us tonight.
Terry Francona has no clue.
“We don’t know,” he said when asked what his expectations are for Bedard. “We’ll kind of have to play it by ear.”
With that in mind, it will be another important night for the bullpen. That pen remains without Dan Wheeler, in all likelihood, and won’t have Alfredo Aceves. Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon are very rested and it wouldn’t be shocking to see them both get more than three outs in some of these games down the stretch.
Here are the guys hoping they never have to see Bard and Pap:
Robert Andino, 2B
J.J. Hardy, SS
Nick Markakis, RF
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Matt Wieters, C
Adam Jones, CF
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Chris Davis, 3B
Nolan Reimold, LF
4:38 p.m.: So we know the rotation going forward, but some of it will depend on how Erik Bedard throws tonight. Geez, so much depends on how Erik Bedard throws tonight, doesn’t it?
It will be Bedard and Beckett to finish this series. After the day off, Jon Lester and Tim Wakefield will go in the first two games of the Yankees series. Bedard will go Sunday if he gets through tonight just fine and Lackey on Monday in Baltimore.
Terry Francona was asked why Bedard would come back before Lackey, and he would only say that he wants to see how Bedard does. However, if you read the tea leaves, it would seem that Francona either wants Lackey to avoid the Yankees or he wants to give the struggling righty an extra day. Just seems weird that Bedard, an injury prone guy pitching for the first time in over two weeks after recoveries from two injuries, would jump ahead of Lackey in the rotation, unless one of the aforementioned ideas was in place.
Francona said that he could flip-flop the two if he wants. If he doesn’t, that sends some sort of message, don’t you think?
Carl Crawford is still a bit sore, but “good enough to play,” Francona said. Crawford couldn’t even move his neck yesterday.
As for Adrian Gonzalez, nursing a sore calf, he may just have to play through the pain, Francona said. It’s not necessarily going to get any better, so it’s an issue of pain management right now.
We will have more on these issues, as well as the latest on Kevin Youkilis (not much to it), and the story on a visit to the Red Sox clubhouse from a certain wrestling champ.
3:28 p.m.: Rain not an issue. Buchholz is throwing on the mound at Fenway to Joey Gathright, Ryan Lavarnway, Jose Iglesias and Lars Anderson. Not all at once. They take turns.
3:12 p.m.: The rain is falling as Clay Buchholz prepares for a simulated game. It seems as if they are intent on getting it done today, although they will keep an eye on the conditions.
Anyway, while Buchholz takes a step forward, hopefully, the Sox welcome back Carl Crawford and Erik Bedard.
Here’s the lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Mike Aviles, 3B
2:58 p.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where the tarp has just been peeled off in anticipation for the 80th home game of the year.
Lineups should be over shortly, after which we will have all of our updates, including how Clay Buchholz felt in his simulated game. Buchholz is stretching in the outfield in anticipation of that session as I type this.
8 a.m. ET: Erik Bedard makes his return to the mound for the Red Sox when they continue a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.
Bedard has not pitched since Sept. 3, first missing a start with left knee soreness and then struggling to overcome a lat strain. It was around that time that the Boston rotation began to crumble, so the lefty’s return could prove critical.
However, do not expect Bedard to last very deep into this one. He’s likely going to be limited in terms of his workload.
Bedard went 40-34 with a 3.83 ERA in five years with the Orioles. He is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA against them.
Baltimore counters with Rick VandenHurk, who will be making just his second start of the year. His first, which came in Toronto earlier this month, did not go so well, as the righty gave up three runs on two home runs in just 2 1/3 innings against Toronto.
First pitch is 7:10 p.m.
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