Final, Blue Jays 5-4: That’s called taking one on the chin.
John Lackey actually pitched pretty well, but another Daniel Bard implosion sends the Sox to their 10th loss in 13 games.
And with uncertainty over Bard, physical ailments for your 3-4-5 hitters and the lead in the wild card race back to three games in the loss column, it’s time for people to begin to fret once again.
Tampa Bay plays later tonight in Baltimore. You can bet that this result will give them a pretty good feeling heading into that one.
Look for plenty of coverage on the loss to the Blue Jays on the site. We will be live-blogging again for you during the opener of the Tampa Bay series tomorrow night.
Mid 9th, Blue Jays 5-4: Jonathan Papelbon has now thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings over a span of 20 games, striking out 25 in the process.
He is as locked in as he’s ever been. It’s his counterpart at the back end of the pen that we have to be worried aobut.
And with that, the Frank Francisco Experiment (I had a band by that name when I was in high school…played the tambourine) begins. If you are a Blue Jays fan, take a deep breath. I’ll let you know when you can exhale.
If you didn’t get the news here, you should know that Adrian Gonzalez left the game with left calf tightness.
End 8th, Blue Jays 5-4: As Jonathan Papelbon jogs in for the Red Sox, we should begin to think about the Blue Jays situation in the last half of the ninth.
They haven’t had a reliable closer all season, and Frank Francisco gets knocked around by the Sox. With Ricky Romero at 102 pitches, does John Farrell bring him back out to try to finish it off?
As I type that, Francisco gets up in the pen. Just remember what I said about it.
Mid 8th, Blue Jays 5-4: If you are a Red Sox fan and you had to rank your concerns right now when thinking about this team’s long-term chances, Daniel Bard’s issues have to be at the top, or at least near it.
Bard looked lost for the third straight time, walking the first two men he faced in what eventually became a three-run rally.
Bard followed up the free passes by throwing Mark Teahen’s bunt attempt into the dirt at first for the sixth error of the game.
With the bases full, J.P. Arencibia’s grounder to third resulted in one run and Adam Loewen followed with a two-run single.
The Sox escaped on a wacky double play that saw Loewen cut down at third on a nice play by Lars Anderson, but that’s the third blown save in five games for Bard and it could result in his third straight loss.
End 7th, Red Sox 4-2: Even Jacoby Ellsbury’s outs look good sometimes. He is going the other way so well right now that a liner off his bat in the seventh seemed ticketed for the Green Monster.
Alas, it died on the track and goes in the books as the last out of the frame.
Daniel Bard, who hasn’t pitched since his back-to-back losses on the road trip, is your new pitcher.
Meanwhile, Ricky Romero has quietly pitched a nice game for the Blue Jays. Three errors behind him have led to one unearned run. He has given up only six hits and one walk in a very tidy 92 pitches. No action in the Toronto pen so this could result in one of those complete-game losses.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-2: One of the more notable developments this spring for Lars Anderson was his vast improvement as a defensive player.
He showed off a little leather with a good stop in the seventh, helping Alfredo Aceves get through the seventh.
It’s pretty nice when you lose Adrian Gonzalez for some reason (we don’t know why he left yet) and the replacement at first can make all the plays.
End 6th, Red Sox 4-2: Toronto worked so hard to try to score the tying run in the top of the sixth, only to fall short.
Adrian Gonzalez makes that hurt even more by hammering the first pitch of the bottom half into the Red Sox bullpen for his 26th home run of the year.
Oddly, Gonzalez is now out of the game, so perhaps he tweaked something on that swing. We’ll have to find out. Lars Anderson is your new first baseman, and Alfredo Aceves takes over on the mound.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-2: Last night we lauded one of the Red Sox elders in Tim Wakefield. Today, there’s love going around for Jason Varitek, who just reinforced how tough he is at the plate by absorbing a huge collision and making a big out.
Adam Loewen hit a soft grounder to a drawn-in Dustin Pedroia that prompted Brett Lawrie to charge home. Lawrie has already gained a reputation as a tough kid who won’t back down from anything, and he took on the captain by lowering his shoulder. Varitek was knocked back several feet and his mask and helmet went flying, but he never lost the ball.
Moments later, Loewen is picked off first. The Jays have a man on third and no outs and fail to score. They have not played a good game here today. Still in it, of course, but it hasn’t been pretty.
3:26 p.m.: John Lackey is responsible for the man on third base as he departs with one out in the sixth. If Franklin Morales can do something special here, Lackey would remain in line for his 13th win.
The inning began when Lackey hit Brett Lawrie with a pitch. That’s the 19th time Lackey has done that this year, easily the most in the majors.
Lawrie then swiped second as Jason Varitek’s throw sailed into center field for the game’s fifth error. With Lawrie on third, Lackey got J.P. Arencibia to pop to shallow center, not nearly deep enough for Lawrie to try anything.
So that’s where we stand with Morales about to face Adam Loewen.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-2: When Darnell McDonald singles to lead off the fifth and Ricky Romero has to start thinking about the top of the lineup again, it’s easy to wonder if a big inning is coming for the Red Sox. Some of those guys just murder him.
In what has to be the best-case scenario for Romero, he got Jacoby Ellsbury to pop to the catcher and Marco Scutaro to ground into a double play.
I didn’t think we would be seeing a low-scoring affair today, but both pitchers have done a nice job of settling down.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-2: John Lackey has a lead through five and four straight scoreless innings, but he was a tad fortunate in the fifth.
After consecutive singles with one out put runners on the corners, Lackey gave up two straight line drives, but both were right at somebody.
Edwin Encarnacion’s went straight to left fielder Carl Crawford. It got to C.C. so quickly that Jose Bautista, the runner on third, didn’t even have time to get back to the bag to tag before Crawford got rid of the throw.
The next was a hot shot by Kelly Johnson right to Adrian Gonzalez. Inning over.
End 4th, Red Sox 3-2: We’re on pace to see nine errors today, the bulk of which will be committed by the visitors. That’s an area of the game the Jays as an organization have to improve upon next year.
Brett Lawrie just messed one up for a second time, both of them coming on choppers by Ryan Lavarnway. Lawrie is young and converted from second base, so he gets some slack, but it’s just part of an overarching issue for Toronto.
Ricky Romero works around the latest error and is actually in pretty good shape at 65 pitches through four. However, the top of the lineup will come up in the fifth, and that includes some guys who consistently have their way with the lefty.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-2: John Lackey entered the fourth inning with a 10.64 ERA in that frame this year. So just getting out of it unharmed is a victory.
All that came of the inning for the Jays was J.P. Arencibia reaching on a Marco Scutaro error. Adam Loewen was Lackey’s fourth strikeout victim, one each inning.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-2: Jacoby Ellsbury is now 10-for-23 against Ricky Romero after leading off the third with a triple into the right-field corner.
If Ellsbury didn’t score, you’d see rioting in the streets, but he did on a sac fly by Marco Scutaro.
It seems as if Ricky Romero has one good start for every five or six times he faces the Sox. The rest are just horrendous.
Mid 3rd, 2-2: John Lackey has yet to record a 1-2-3 inning, but he’s posted back-to-back zeroes. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
Lackey’s pitch count is at 62.
The Rays and Yankees play tonight. The Angels begin in about an hour. Plan accordingly.
End 2nd, 2-2: OK, I’m back to bashing the Blue Jays defense. It’s bad again.
Actually, it’s been bad all year but the moment I criticized the Jays last night they made about 74 diving catches in a row.
Things reverted back to normal in the second.
Dustin Pedroia singled to improve to 9-for-20 against Ricky Romero. He then moved up 90 feet with Kevin Youkilis singled and then 90 more when center fielder Adam Loewen bobbled the ball.
Ryan Lavarnway, making his first Fenway Park at-bat, then chopped one to third that Brett Lawrie flubbed for the second error in as many batters.
That allowed Pedroia to score. After a wild pitch moved Youkilis to third, Jason Varitek pushed him in with an RBI groundout.
Mid 2nd, Blue Jays 2-0: A better second inning for John Lackey, although Adam Loewen, the No. 9 hitter, hammered a single to right with one out.
End 1st, Blue Jays 2-0: Marco Scutaro remains hot with a wall-ball double with one out, but he is erased on a nice double play turned by shortstop Mike McCoy.
Adrian Gonzalez lined one to McCoy’s left. He made the catch and then dove in glove-first to tag second before Scutaro could get back to the bag.
If John Lackey struggles today, it is bad in that his slump would continue. But think of how awful it would be in the wake of the positivity from last night. To wash that away with a rough outing just before Tampa Bay comes to town would be tough to take, at least for the fans.
Let’s see if Lackey can right the ship here.
Mid 1st, Blue Jays 2-0: It’s never a good thing when you get booed three batters into the game and then get a sarcastic cheer when you throw a strike to the fourth.
It’s even worse when two runs score after the fans already begin to brim with negativity.
After getting a strikeout to begin the game, John Lackey served up a sharp single and then walked Jose Bautista on four straight pitches.
He retired Adam Lind on a fly to center but then gave up consecutive RBI singles to Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson.
Lackey’s 31st pitch got Brett Lawrie to ground to short to end the inning.
1:39 p.m.: John Lackey has begun a very big start with a strikeout of Mike McCoy. Keep it here for all the action.
1:23 p.m.: Tim Wakefield is being honored in a pregame ceremony right now, flanked by Terry Francona and members of the ownership group, sans John Henry.
He’s got some nice gifts down there, including a watch and a plaque of some kind. They’re now watching a tribute to Wake on the big screen.
And I’m now going to get lunch.
12:28 p.m.: We often make too much of the numbers, but those that John Lackey carries in are worth repeating.
Lackey is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last three starts, has a 12.00 ERA against Toronto this year and owns a 7.49 mark in day games. He has walked 10 and struck out six in his last three appearances.
There are other numbers to cite, but those are some of the ugly basics. Here is the Toronto lineup, after which we’ll produce a few more statistics:
Mike McCoy, SS
Eric Thames, LF
Jose Bautista, RF
Adam Lind, 1B
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Brett Lawrie, 3B
J.P. Arencibia, C
Adam Loewen, CF
Lackey actually has some pretty good numbers against most of these guys, with the strong exception of Lind, who is 13-for-23 (.565) with six doubles and six RBIs vs. the righty.
11:43 a.m.: The rotation is set going forward, with the one question mark being if and when we will see Erik Bedard. It just doesn’t seem as if he is all that close right now.
Anyway, here are the matchups for the big series with Tampa Bay:
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Kyle Weiland on Thursday.
James Shields vs. Josh Beckett on Friday.
Jeff Niemann vs. Jon Lester on Saturday.
David Price vs. Tim Wakefield on Sunday.
The Red Sox have a doubleheader on Monday against Baltimore. John Lackey will get one of those starts. The other remains up in the air. If Bedard is ready by then, he’ll get the call. If not, we may see Andrew Miller.
Bedard is hoping to throw today.
As for why Weiland was chosen over Miller, it came down to a couple of things. One, Francona wanted a right-hander against Tampa Bay, which has a .712 OPS vs. righties. Also, Weiland showed the club something by limiting the damage in his start against the Rays on Saturday.They hope that he can be even better this time around. Expect Alfredo Aceves to be at the ready, however.
David Ortiz is “sore, but better,” according to Francona. It is unknown if Ortiz will be available off the bench today. It just depends on how he responds to some treatment on his sore back.
On a slightly related note, I saw Lackey in the clubhouse today with a pretty good limp and a grimace on his face. He may have just been getting treatment on his bruised left calf, so it was probably just tender from that, but keep that in mind as you watch him stride and put weight on that leg today.
Among the other scenes of note was Curious George walking through the concourse. He was on his way to take part in a book drive for military families, an effort spearheaded by Youk’s Kids.
We also saw Youkilis slow dancing with Luis Tiant in the clubhouse to the lilting melody of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
And for those of you who have asked about the man that Francona called out in his postgame press conference last night, it was a cameraman who had chosen a very bad time to make a call home. A word of advice. If you ever have a job that has you in Francona’s company during a press conference, just shut the phone off.
10:11 a.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where the Red Sox are basking in the afterglow of a near-perfect night on Tuesday.
Of course, the one issue with that 18-6 rout was the sudden departure of David Ortiz with back spasms. He remains sidelined for the start of this one, giving rookie Ryan Lavarnway a chance to make his first Fenway Park start.
Here is the lineup against lefty Ricky Romero:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Ryan Lavarnway, DH
Carl Crawford, LF
Jason Varitek, C
Darnell McDonald, RF
Ellsbury is 9-for-21 (.429) with four doubles and a homer off Romero. Pedroia is 8-for-19 (.421) with a home run and a double. Youkilis is 7-for-18 (.389) with three homers and three doubles.
6 a.m. ET: Coming off an 18-6 win Tuesday night, the Red Sox will look for a sweep of a quick two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon.
John Lackey gets the start for the Red Sox, looking to turn around his recent slump. Lackey gave up five runs in three innings Friday at Tampa Bay, leaving after a line drive caught him on the left calf.
Lackey is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last three starts. He has given up 20 runs in 15 innings against Toronto this season and has a 7.49 ERA in day games.
Ricky Romero will be on the mound for the Blue Jays, just six days removed from a rare solid start against Boston. He allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 7-4 victory over the Sox, lowering his career ERA against them to 7.63.
First pitch from Lackey is expected at 1:35 p.m.