Final, Blue Jays 1-0: Brett Lawrie’s growing legend just, well, grew.
The 21-year-old budding star just hammered a Dan Wheeler offering to center, a no-doubter that gives the Jays a walk-off win.
Talk about a tough day for the Sox. They lose Josh Beckett to a sprained ankle, burn through everyone else in the bullpen at the beginning of a seven-game road trip and then fall for the fifth time in seven games.
Look for more coverage on the site in a bit. Thanks for following along today. We’ll be with you tomorrow night from Toronto, where Jon Lester is on the mound for the suddenly slumping Sox.
Mid 11th, 0-0: Shawn Camp comes on and retires Kevin Youkilis, Carl Crawford and Josh Reddick in order.
The Yankees and Rays (if you still care about them) have both won. Actually, if the Sox were to lose their lead in the loss column over Tampa Bay is seven games, with seven remaining between the two.
If that lead got to six or five before this weekend’s meeting in The Trop, we might have to at least discuss the existence of a race there. Oh, wait, I’m already doing that.
Dan Wheeler is you new pitcher, coming off a three-run outing the other day at home.
End 10th, 0-0: I had hair on the top of my head when the bottom of the 10th began. For effectiveness, just know that I have no hair on my head now.
And no runs were scored.
Jonathan Papelbon just left the bases loaded by throwing three straight fastballs past Adam Lind.
Papelbon threw 27 pitches in the inning, allowing a single and two walks. Twenty-six of the pitches were fastballs, all of them after Jose Molina led off the inning with a base hit off a splitter.
Papelbon’s scoreless streak is at 18 innings, but just barely.
Because of the high pitch count, he most certainly won’t be available in the 11th. Closing duties may now fall on Dan Wheeler, who has been in that role at times in his career.
The teams are a combined 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
Mid 10th, 0-0: Frank Francisco navigates through the dangerous portion of the Red Sox lineup, and in a backwards kind of way gets Adrian Gonzalez out of the game.
Gonzalez drew a two-out walk. That’s not what Francisco wanted, but when Mike Aviles goes in as a pinch runner and David Ortiz grounds to third, the Red Sox have to press on without their All-Star first baseman.
Aviles will stay in the game at third base. Kevin Youkilis moves across the diamond to replace Gonzalez.
And into the game comes Jonathan Papelbon, who owns a 1.52 ERA in this place.
End 9th, 0-0: If you recall a game July 17 in Tampa Bay that looked very much like this, it ends in about two hours when Dustin Pedroia gets an RBI single.
So, you can just come back in the 16th for that, OK?
I’ll still be here.
Yes, we are headed for extras for the ninth time after Daniel Bard made quick work of the Jays in the bottom of the ninth.
Boston is 5-3 in extra-inning games. Toronto is 10-4.
Mid 9th, 0-0: I have to say that Jose Bautista has had a horrendous game. Not only is he 0-for-4 with two strikeouts at the plate, including an out with two on in the eighth, but he has misplayed two balls in right.
Bautista just took a poor line to a Josh Reddick shot to right, playing it into a one-out double.
Frank Francisco, who entered with an 11.66 ERA in his career against the Red Sox, battled back by striking out Jason Varitek and retiring Marco Scutaro on a liner to left.
Daniel Bard remains in the game for Boston.
End 8th, 0-0: Daniel Bard gets the two most dangerous hitters in the Toronto order to leave a pair of runners on base.
Jose Bautista went after a first-pitch fastball and popped it to right. Adam Lind went down swinging on one of them there stinkin’ sliders (rural southern voice).
Frank Francisco is on in relief for Toronto.
3:45 p.m.: Alfredo Aceves just hit a man with a pitch for the 12th time this year. That ties him for third in the majors and gives the Blue Jays runners at first and second with just one out and Jose Bautista up.
That, my friends, is what you call a small fire. Entire the fireman. Daniel Bard is jogging on to face Bautista in a huge spot.
Aceves had hit just six men prior to this season.
Mid 8th, 0-0: It was a borderline offering, but a great pitch in that situation.
After Adrian Gonzalez doubled with two outs, the Blue Jays elected to walk David Ortiz and go after Kevin Youkilis.
Casey Janssen’s 1-2 offering to Youkilis was a cutter that broke in and then back over the inside part of the plate. Youkilis didn’t think so, but it was a great pitch in that there was almost nothing he could do with it if he swung, and if he didn’t he just might get rung up. Which he was.
Boston is now 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and have left eight on base.
Alfredo Aceves remains in the game, to the surprise of nobody. Daniel Bard had been warming, however.
End 7th, 0-0: Who blinks first?
If you bet against Alfredo Aceves, then you haven’t seen this act before.
The unflappable Aceves gets a inning-ending double play for the second straight frame and is now through 3 1/3 scoreless.
Aceves has now gone three innings or more in relief 10 times this year.
Mid 7th, 0-0: A leadoff walk and a one-out single gives the Red Sox a little life in the seventh, made even more promising when both runners moved up on a grounder to first.
But Marco Scutaro, the only player in the game with two hits, grounds to short to end the inning.
Both teams are 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. They’ve left a combined 11 runners on base.
End 6th, 0-0: You never want to lose your starter to an injury, much less someone like Josh Beckett, but there have been countless examples of the sudden, unexpected switch to another pitcher making things difficult for a lineup.
They are prepared for Josh Beckett. They are thinking nothing but Josh Beckett. And then in an instant, even in the middle of an at-bat, he is gone.
It works even better when you go from a soft-tossing lefty to a hard-throwing lefty, for instance, but Alfredo Aceves seems to be having his way since taking over for Beckett.
Aceves gave up his first hit on an Adam Lind single in the seventh, but he got Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a double play to finish the inning.
Henderson Alvarez has been replaced by Carlos Villanueva. Maybe now the Sox bats can get going.
Mid 6th, 0-0: Henderson Alvarez has some great action on some of his pitches, including a fastball that dives down on hitters.
Adrian Gonzalez fell victim to that pitch in the sixth. He has struck out twice agianst Alvarez, who just worked a 1-2-3 sixth.
There was also a pretty play made by Brett Lawrie at third. He charged a Dustin Pedroia chopper that took a funny hop, deflected the ball up in the air and then bare-handed it and fired to first just in time.
Alvarez and Lawrie are both just 21, primary reasons why many people see a bright future for this organization.
End 5th, 0-0: The Josh Beckett injury just gives us another chance to value Alfredo Aceves.
He just struck out the side in the fifth and should be able to go deep into this one, if needed. Aceves threw only 2 1/3 innings in the previous eight days.
Mid 5th, 0-0: This game is tied but it feels as if the Blue Jays are ahead by 10. Just a bad vibe all around for Boston.
Marco Scutaro just doubled with one out, but he was caught in a rundown between second and third on a comebacker to Henderson Alvarez.
That sounds pretty bad, right? Well, how about if I add in the fact that Scutaro may have hurt himself in the rundown, and that Jacoby Ellsbury was out trying to advance to second on the tail end of the play.
So it’s an inning-ending double play unlike any you may ever see, and it reinforces what I’ve said for weeks: In an otherwise spectacular season, Ellsbury has had one issue…he had made some bad outs on the bases.
I understand the desire to get to second with two outs and all, but the play was right in front of him and he was a semi-easy out. It’s my one criticism of Ellsbury, who also has the worst stolen base percentage of his career by a pretty wide margin.
Scutaro is back at shortstop to begin the bottom of the fifth, so he must be OK.
End 4th, 0-0: Alfredo Aceves inherited a 2-2 count on Brett Lawrie and proceeded to throw two more balls.
With runners on the corners, Aceves got Jose Molina to fly to right.
And now all of New England holds its collective breath.
Side note: Toronto has swiped four bases in four innings and the Red Sox have not made one single throw.
2:26 p.m.: About the last thing this team needs right now is an injury to either Josh Beckett or Jon Lester. Beyond them it gets real thin, real fast.
But that’s what has happened. Beckett threw a pitch with two outs in the fourth and felt something in his right foot or ankle. After a visit from the trainer, he has left this game.
Not. Good. At. All.
It comes on the same day the Red Sox announce that they will skip Erik Bedard.
Alfredo Aceves is the new pitcher. There is a man on second, two outs and a 2-2 count to Brett Lawrie.
Mid 4th, 0-0: Henderson Alvarez has tossed 12 straight scoreless innings. He walked his first man in that span with a two-out free pass to Carl Crawford in the fourth, but bounced back by getting Josh Reddick looking.
Alvarez has a little Pascual Perez to him. If you don’t remember Perez, he had electric stuff and would often celebrate strikeouts with some pretty interesting antics, including his well-known sprint to the dugout after one that ended an inning.
Alvarez didn’t do that after getting Reddick, but he shows some stuff on the mound when he gets a pitch in there. I kinda like it.
End 3rd, 0-0: Josh Beckett entered this one needing 12 strikeouts to reach 1,000 in a Red Sox uniform.
At this pace, he may actually get there today. Beckett has five strikeouts through three innings, including two of Jose Bautista, one on a fastball and another on a breaking ball.
The third was Beckett’s first perfect inning.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: The Red Sox get their first base runner of the game with two outs in the second, and nearly pick up the game’s first run. But they don’t.
Marco Sctuaro singled and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a double into the rocner in right.
With two outs, Scutaro was motoring on contact, but they put the brakes on as he rounded third. Scutaro probably would’ve been out by several feet.
Dustin Pedroia hit a grounder to third to end the threat. The teams have combined to leave four runners in scoring position.
End 2nd, 0-0: Josh Beckett is playing with fire, but has yet to get burned.
After stranding runners at the corners in the first with a strikeout, Beckett fans Dewayne Wise with a man on third to end the second.
Kelly Johnson singled to start off the inning, the second straight inning in which that happened.
Brett Lawrie reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and then moved to third on Jose Molina’s chopper to second.
The Blue Jays have two stolen bases already and have swiped 18-of-24 bags against the Sox this year.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Henderson Alvarez has set down the first six men he has faced. Kelly Johnson, who we are seeing for the first time in a Blue Jays uniform, makes a nice play up the middle to end the second.
We will also get our first look at third baseman Brett Lawrie in the second. Lawrie, acquired in the Shaun Marcum deal last winter, has lived up to his immense expectations with a great start to his big league career.
End 1st, 0-0: After Mike McCoy led off the bottom of the first inning with a base hit to right, 10 of the last 13 hitters Josh Beckett faced in this park had reached.
That dates back to his last Rogers Centre start on April 26, 2010, so it’s a flawed stat, but an interesting one nonetheless.
McCoy moved to second on a grounder to first before Beckett froze Jose Bautista with a fastball on the outside corner.
A walk to Adam Lind and a stolen base by McCoy put Beckett in a real bind. True to form, he slowed things down, enough so that the great Don Orsillo exclaims, “Josh Beckett has brought this game to a halt.” In the first inning!
The slow pace eventually pays off as Beckett strikes out Edwin Encarnacion to end it.
Mid 1st, 0-0: This very well could be one of those situations where the Red Sox need to go through the order once or even twice before they get to Henderson Alvarez, if indeed they do.
He comes out you rather aggressively, and I like his demeanor out there.
Alvarez got three straight outs in the air in the top of the first. He is normally a ground-ball pitcher, so we’ll see if that’s a sign of things to come. Perhaps just a little adrenaline for the 21-year-old.
1:07 p.m.: Henderson Alvarez, a righty who can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and likes to use a changeup, has started things off with a strike to Jacoby Ellsbury. Enjoy the game, folks.
12:43 p.m.: I just tweeted this rather boring stat, but thought I would put it here as well. It’s a clash of trends this afternoon in Toronto, where the Red Sox have won 13 of their last 17 and enter 30-12 in day games.
However, they are just 21-24 in the first game of a series, losing their last four.
Throw in the fact that is the one place where Josh Beckett almost never looks like Josh Beckett and you just don’t know what you’re going to get.
Something has to give!
12:05 p.m.: OK, we have all the pregame notes up on the site for you right now.
There’s the news on the additions of Ryan Lavarnway, Nate Spears and Kyle Weiland.
We have the news of Erik Bedard getting skipped in the rotation.
Bobby Jenks is done for the year. While he hasn’t been around for some time, it seems as if his absence is just beginning to become a problem.
Also, a leftover story from last night takes a look at the remarkable run of blowout games in the Red Sox-Rangers season series.
And if you are curious about anything Red Sox-related, drop a question into my mailbag.
10:39 a.m.: We made note of Josh Beckett’s woeful history in Toronto earlier. Much of that came against Blue Jays lineups that looked a bit different than this one:
Mike McCoy, SS
Eric Thames, LF
Jose Bautista, RF
Adam Lind, 1B
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Jose Molina, C
Dewayne Wise, CF
McCoy, Thames and Lawrie have never faced Beckett. Encarnacion, Johnson, Molina and Wise are a combined 6-for-36 (.167). Where we really have to watch for danger is when the big guns come to the plate. Bautista and Lind have combined to go 11-for-27 (.407) with three home runs and four doubles against Beckett.
Infielder Nate Spears and right-hander Kyle Weiland have come to Toronto along with catcher/designated hitter Ryan Lavarnway. Look for more on them in a seperate story in a bit.
10:05 a.m.: Josh Reddick’s left hand has apparently healed. Also, Kevin Youkilis will hit fifth for the first time in about two months today. Here is the Red Sox lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
Josh Reddick, RF
Jason Varitek, C
Marco Scutaro, SS
With Conor Jackson likely out for a day or two more, the only other right-handed option was Darnell McDonald. But there is a hard-throwing righty on the mound in Henderson Alvarez, so it’s nice to see Reddick able to go.
8 a.m. ET: It doesn’t appear as if much can derail Josh Beckett’s phenomenal season. A major obstacle looms, however, with his first start of the year in Toronto.
Beckett owns a 9.28 ERA in six career starts in the Rogers Centre, more than four runs higher than his ERA in any other American League park. The Blue Jays have hit 13 home runs in 32 innings against Beckett at home.
The right-hander did get the better of Toronto in a start at Fenway Park back in April, allowing just one run on three hits in seven innings.
Beckett has won three straight starts overall.
The Red Sox will be getting their first look at Toronto’s standout rookie Henderson Alvarez. The 21-year-old tossed eight scoreless innings against Baltimore his last time out. In five starts since being called up, Alvarez owns a 1.08 WHIP and 21 strikeouts against only five walks.
The Jays hope to get a boost in the return of manager John Farrell. The former Boston pitching coach has been out for over a week due to a bout of pneumonia, but may return Monday.
First pitch of this Labor Day matinee is set for 1:07 p.m.
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