Red Sox Live Blog: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia Lead Red Sox to Critical 18-9 Rout of Orioles

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Red Sox Live Blog: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia Lead Red Sox to Critical 18-9 Rout of Orioles

Final, Red Sox 18-9: It was a day filled with some ugliness, but the Red Sox end it on a nice note. Perhaps a breakout performance like this can lead to a few wins, although they’ve followed up several high-scoring efforts with losses lately.

Scott Atchison gets the win in this one in relief of an ineffective John Lackey. Both Dustin Pedroia and Conor Jackson pick up four RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury has three, including himself on an inside-the-park homer.

We’ll see if Boston can get Erik Bedard some support in his return to the mound Tuesday night. That’s a 7:10 p.m. start and we’ll be here to carry you through.

Look for more coverage of the nightcap on the site later on. Thanks for following along on another long day at the park.

End 8th, Red Sox 18-9: David Ortiz took one of the top five hardest swings he’s ever taken on the first pitch by Kevin Gregg, clearly intent on getting the upper hand in their little war.

But Ortiz missed on that swing and eventually worked a walk before being replaced at first by Josh Reddick.

Jed Lowrie flew to right to end it.

Jose Iglesias singled up the middle to begin the inning, his second career hit.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 18-9: Kevin Gregg is into the game. You may recall the last time he faced the Red Sox, going toe-to-toe with David Ortiz in that crazy brawl.

Ortiz is due up fourth, after Jose Iglesias, Lars Anderson and Dustin Pedroia.

End 7th, Red Sox 18-9: Josh Bell has robbed Jacoby Ellsbury of a hit twice in this game. Like Ellsbury really needs them. He’s 3-for-6 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored.

Michael Bowden is on to pitch for Boston. So my theory on Daniel Bard was inaccurate.

By the way, Lars Anderson replaced Adrian Gonzalez on the bases in that inning. Gonzalez seemed to be limping a bit. He did go 3-for-3 with two walks at the plate though.

10:33 p.m.: Since we last left you, Brad Bergesen gave up an RBI single to Jed Lowrie and, you guessed it, a grand slam to Conor Jackson.

The Red Sox have matched a season high with 18 runs.

10:27 p.m.: Oh my goodness. Clay Rapada walks David Ortiz to load the bases and send us into another pitching change.

Brad Bergesen will come on to face Jed Lowrie.

The matinee was two hours, 50 minutes. This one is already three hours, 18 minutes. And there’s still 12 Buck Showalter pitching changes to go.

10:22 p.m.: If you thought that all the Red Sox needed to get out of this funk was an inside-the-park home run, then you got it.

Jacoby Ellsbury is the culprit, hammering one to the triangle that hits off the side of the Boston bullpen and bounces along the track toward the Green Monster.

The Orioles had no chance to track it down and throw home in time. Ellsbury made it standing up.

That got the bats going again. Marco Scutaro and Adrian Gonzalez singled and Dustin Pedroia knocked another into right to make it 13-9.

Baltimore is bringing in its sixth pitcher, Clay Rapada.

Ellsbury now has 98 RBIs. That was the first inside-the-park homer for the Red Sox since Kevin Youkilis did it May 28, 2007.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 11-9: Matt Albers does his job by striking out the only two he faces in the seventh.

Very quietly, Albers has retired all six he has faced over his last two outings. It’s not much, but it’s better than the alternative. And we’ve seen plenty of the alternative lately.

With that, Daniel Bard takes off his coat and preps for the eighth. You figure that Bard comes in even if the Sox scored 187 runs here. Terry Francona will not take chances, and he doesn’t have many guys left out there anyway.

10:07 p.m.: It’s come to this. Matt Albers will be brought in to protect a two-run lead in the seventh inning of an absolute must-win.

It’s no surprise. We already told you he was coming. But it just shows how limited Terry Francona’s options are here.

Of course, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon are waiting in the wings.

Franklin Morales got the Sox a step closer to that lush valley of 98-mph fastballs and shutdown relief by striking out Chris Davis to begin the seventh.

End 6th, Red Sox 11-9: Another zero on the board for Orioles pitching. That’s their third in a row. Red Sox pitchers have accomplished that feat just once and it was in the second inning.

Franklin Morales is on to pitch the seventh, or at least begin it. Chris Davis, a left-handed hitter, leads it off, but four righties are behind him.

Matt Albers is getting ready for them. You may want to take that Rolaids right now.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 11-9: As I said, why take Scott Atchison out? I know he’s nothing flashy, but he just doesn’t have massive blowups like so many others in that pen.

Franklin Morales comes on immediately walks the man he was brought on to face, Nick Markakis.

Vladimir Guerrero then doubled into the corner in right to plate another O’s run. For reasons we may never know, Guerrero tried to stretch it into a triple and was out by several feet. Jed Lowrie was just waiting for his head-first slide.

9:47 p.m.: Scott Atchison makes an error at first base receiving a toss from Adrian Gonzalez (first called out, but a Buck Showalter argument overturns it). Atch fights back by getting a 6-4-3 double play, but that’s it for him.

Franklin Morales replaces Athison with two outs and nobody on.

That’s two straight times that Terry Francona has taken out Atchison after just a few outs (1 1/3 innings this time). He’s a guy that can go three if you need it, and he’s one of the few guys getting outs. It didn’t seem to make much sense when he went just one scoreless in relief of Kyle Weiland the other night.

The next two relievers combined to give up five runs in 1 1/3 innings in a 9-2 loss. I would stick with Atchison another batter or two or three, unless he’s thinking ahead to the Erik Bedard start tomorrow night.

End 5th, Red Sox 11-8: There was a time when this looked like it might be a Red Sox runaway. But the Orioles have an opportunity with the top of the order facing Scott Atchison to get even closer.

Hard to imagine, but that’s what it’s like when your pitching is as poor as Boston’s is.

By the way, here’s what I’ve injested since arriving at the park today, in order of consumption:

Glass of iced tea, cup of coffee, ham and cheese sandwich, three chicken wings, soft-serve ice cream, one diet coke, one mammoth plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and peas and another coffee. Oh, and one Munchkin.

That’s over a 12-hour span, but still. You wonder why all of us beat guys struggle to stay in shape.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a beautiful apple just sitting next to my computer all day, the healthiest food item in the entire building.

9:35 p.m.: If you want to just get back to us after taking the kids to school in the morning, that’s fine. We should be in the seventh or eighth inning by then.

Consecutive walks by Jason Berken with one out in the fifth prompts Buck Showalter to make his fourth pitching change in as many innings.

Zach Phillips, a left-hander will face David Ortiz with two on and one out.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 11-8: If you’re going to run Alfredo Aceves out there to start a game, should John Lackey be considered as the casualty?

It’s a legitimate question. The book is still open on him as he leaves an 11-8 game here in the fifth.

There was a double, a single (infield variety), a stolen base, a sac fly and another single before Lackey was finally lifted with one out in the fifth.

He gave a deep stare at Terry Francona, for reasons only Lackey can understand. Francona has to stop the bleeding right there.

Then, in what can’t sit well with the Sox starter, Scott Atchison comes on and gets an inning-ending double play on one pitch. Atchison is now in line for the win!

End 4th, Red Sox 11-6: A zero is on the board next to “Boston” on the scoreboard. It still took about 56 minutes to complete it.

On another note, I just won my fantasy football matchup with two early field goals by Josh Brown. Eat it, Greg!!! (I know you guys don’t know my friend Greg, but he totally is pissed off right now.)

On still another note, I had lost nine straight games in that league dating to last season. So, again…Eat it, Greg!!!

Mid 4th, Red Sox 11-6: John Lackey has now given up at least six runs seven times this year and he continues to struggle to get out of innings.

With one out, Matt Angle singled and stole second. One out later, Nick Markakis worked over Lackey in a long at-bat before belting an RBI triple into the corner in right.

The Orioles remain aggressive on the bases despite being down by a sizable margin.

Lackey will have to eat up one more inning to spare the pen if he can. He’s at 96 pitches. Amazingly, he’ll be in line to improve to 13-12 if he gets through the fifth OK.

End 3rd, Red Sox 11-5: Ten men came to the plate, six of them had hits (all in a row), and there was one error, one walk and one steal.

It all adds up to five runs for the Red Sox, who have 13 hits already. Their franchise record for hits in a game is 28, so they’re on pace to shatter that. Not saying it’s going to happen, but the conditions are right — it’s the Orioles in the second half of a doubleheader when Boston just wants to let out some frustrations.

8:42 p.m.: It’s the third inning and the Orioles are on to their third pitcher. Nice pace so far.

They were oh-so-close to finally putting a zero on the board but let it get away on a big error, and the Sox have taken advantage in a big way.

With Jed Lowrie on second (walk and his first stolen base since Aug. 12, 2010) and two outs, Darnell McDonald hit a ball up the middle that J.J. Hardy got to but threw away.

Lowrie scored on the play and McDonald goes to second. He easily came in on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double and Ellsbury easily scored on Marco Scutaro’s single.

Scutaro is 5-for-6 in the doubleheader. Adrian Gonzalez, who followed with a single of his own to chase Chris Jakubauskas, is now 4-for-6.

Jason Berken is the new pitcher.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 6-5: If not for a great diving catch by Conor Jackson, John Lackey may be out of this game.

Jackson’s grab on a Nick Markakis blooper toward the line in left was the second out of the frame. Nobody was on base.

And Lackey even got a third strike on the next hitter, Vladimir Guerrero, but it was on a wild pitch that bounced to the backstop and allowed the O’s DH to reach.

A single and a walk followed and the bases were loaded for Nolan Reimold, who singled to right to drive in a pair.

All of that helped to drive up Lackey’s pitch count to 75. And on a night in which the Sox really need him to give them some innings. Just ain’t gonna happen at this rate.

Scott Atchison was warming, but has since sat down.

End 2nd, Red Sox 6-3: Dustin Pedroia added to the Orioles woes with an RBI single (after Baltimore intentionally walked Gonzalez) and the Sox nearly kept the inning going when David Ortiz hit one off Chris Davis’ glove at first.

But Ortiz doesn’t run well (bet you didn’t know that) and Davis recovered for the final out.

This one’s on pace to finish at about midnight.

7:58 p.m.: Brian Matusz managed to get five outs before being sent to the showers, and one of them was given to him.

The Sox started the second with a walk, a single and a deep fly to center. That put runners on the corners with one out for Marco Scutaro, who stayed hot with a double into the left-field corner.

Darnell McDonald, who had the single, raced from first to second to third and then was initially waved in. By the time third base coach Tim Bogar put up his arms, McDonald was a quarter down the line and flying. When he tried to put on the brakes, he slid on the ground and was easily caught up in a pickle. Bogar waved and waved until the last moment. That’s what you’re supposed to do. But he may have waited a bit too late to put up the stop sign…McDonald had gone a step or two too far.

Matsusz threw four intentional balls to Adrian Gonzalez before giving way to Chris Jakubauskas.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 4-3: Can we call the 1-4-3 double play turned by John Lackey in the second inning the biggest of the year for the Red Sox?

No, we can’t. But given the fact that he has been so poor of late, that he gave up three runs in the first and that he surrendered a leadoff single in the second, it was a much-needed development.

Lackey then got Matt Angle on a grounder to short to get through the frame just fine.

It’s been the third and fourth innings that have killed Lackey all year. He has an 8.17 ERA in the third and a 10.17 mark in the fourth. So you have that to look forward to.

End 1st, Red Sox 4-3: OK, I know I had the wrong score up there for a bit, but this is the right one after the Red Sox go off in the bottom half, the big hit being a Jed Lowrie three-run bomb.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled and Adrian Gonzalez did the same. Dustin Pedroia had an RBI groundout and David Ortiz doubled before Lowrie ripped one that was fair by just a few feet down the line in left.

And the question everyone just asked in unison. Can John Lackey respond with a shutdown inning?

Mid 1st, Orioles 3-0: It just keeps on raining. Figuratively speaking, of course.

With chance to set a tone and try to turn around this nosedive, John Lackey instantly spots the Orioles three runs. Just. Like. That.

There was a single, a walk and a single to start off the game, giving Baltimore a 1-0 lead. Vladimir Guerrero swatted a sacrifice fly to right (very nice throw by Darnell McDonald and a very nice slide by J.J. Hardy).

Then, with the Bad News Bears theme ringing in our ears, the Sox threw the ball around a bit.

Chris Davis lined a base hit to right and Nick Markakis rounded third. He looked to be an easy out and the throw did beat him, but Markakis knocked the ball free from the captain. That goes in the books as a Varitek error because Davis raced to second, but not before Lackey picked up the ball and threw it into center field.

There was no advance on the overthrow, but it spoke volumes to the way things are going out here.

7:11 p.m.: John Lackey’s second pitch of the nightcap is smacked into center field for a single. And awaaaaayyy we go!

6:51 p.m.: Before throwing in some turkey and all the sides (what better day to give thanks than a day-night doubleheader), I wanted to pass on the links to the postgame stories for the opener.

To start it off, we have David Ortiz pleading for Alfredo Aceves to get a start.

Always a central figure, Ortiz was in the middle of the most controversial play of game one.

Finally, Kyle Weiland missed an opportunity. He knows it.

6:32 p.m.: Cheer up, folks. John Lackey takes the hill in about 30 minutes.

Here is the lineup he’ll face in what amounts to his biggest start with this team (seems like we’ve said that a lot lately…they just keep getting bigger and bigger):

Matt Angle, CF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Nick Markakis, RF
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Chris Davis, 1B
Robert Andino, 3B
Nolan Reimold, LF
Ryan Adams, 2B
Craig Tatum, C

Markakis is a .333 (13-for-39) hitter against Lackey. Davis is 4-for-15 (.357) with a home run, a double and two walks.

4:31 p.m.: I haven’t been around here forever, but that is easily the darkest clubhouse (not talking about lighting) we’ve seen.

We will have reaction from those that spoke (Pedroia, Ortiz, McDonald and Saltalamacchia) in a bit, including reaction to the fair ball that wasn’t off of Ortiz’s bat.

The updates from Terry Francona are pretty simple. He said that Carl Crawford strained his neck on the first swing he took in the tunnel. As the morning went on it just got worse, so he may not even be available tonight.

That puts Conor Jackson in left field in this lineup:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, 3B
Conor Jackson, LF
Jason Varitek, C
Darnell McDonald, RF

Final, Orioles 6-5: That was weak. The Red Sox, after rallying from four down to the brink of a tie, go very quietly in the ninth.

We’ll head down for some reaction and then get back up here to give you all the reaction, plus prepare you for the next game.

Mid 9th, Orioles 6-5: It’s incredible, isn’t it? Alfredo Aceves just gets outs, and the second you have him on the ropes, he pops you in the kisser.

For the second straight inning, Aceves allowed two to reach, this time giving up a walk and a single.

But Nick Markakis flew to center and Aceves won a long duel with Vladimir Guerrero with a dramatic strikeout.

Aceves marched off pretty pumped for the second straight time. Where would they be without that guy.

Jim Johnson is on for the save opportunity

End 8th, Orioles 6-5: I swear there are entire forests that have been wiped out by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who breaks a bat two or three times a game. It’s remarkable.

Salty’s bat shatters for the second time in this game on an inning-ending grounder to shortstop.

Alfredo Aceves is out to start the ninth. Obviously he won’t be available tonight and you wonder, as his pitch count rises toward 40, if he will be at all tomorrow when Erik Bedard is going to be limited.

Expect lots of Scott Atchison if there are some shorts starts.

3:29 p.m.: Based on some of his comments, you figured that Terry Francona was going to pull out all the stops.

He did so by bringing in Alfredo Aceves at a time when he knew he absolutely had to have some zeroes, and now sending up Ryan Lavarnway to hit for Josh Reddick has to qualify.

Buck Showalter’s willing to play the game, however. Once Lavarnway is announced, Showalter gets his lefty out of there and brings in right-hander Pedro Strop.

David Ortiz lined to third to begin the inning.

Mid 8th, Orioles 6-5: The prediction was made by yours truly after the Orioles got two runners in scoring position with no outs in the eighth.

“If Aceves wiggles out of this one, the Sox win,” I said to nobody in particular.

He did, and in dramatic fashion. After a ground-rule double hurts the Orioles by forcing the lead runner to stop at third, Aceves gets a fly to shallow right and then consecutive strikeouts to end it.

The second K, to Nolan Reimold, came on three pitches and prompted the biggest roar we’ve heard here in a few days.

End 7th, Orioles 6-5: You get the sense that the Orioles really need some insurance here.

That effort continues against Alfredo Aceves, who is 4-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his career against Baltimore.

3:12 p.m.: Another two-out rally has been ignited by Marco Scutaro, who is 3-for-3 with a walk.

Scutaro doubled off Troy Patton and then scored when Adrian Gonzalez got a semi-gifted single to right.

Gonzalez’s ball was hit hard but only about three feet to the right of Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who just stood and then flopped over as it passed him. Pretty poor effort by him, perhaps caught in between an all-out dive and just moving his feet.

Sox are within a run as Willie Eyre comes on to face Dustin Pedroia.

3:03 p.m.: There was only one walk issued by Jerermy Guthrie, but he was hit very hard.

The 10th hit in six-plus innings is a single by Darnell McDonald that begins the bottom of the seventh.

That does it for Guthrie, who is replaced by Troy Patton, a lefty.

Mid 7th, Orioles 6-4: Alfredo Aceves threw 17 pitches in the seventh. If Terry Francona gets him out now he might have him available for the second game.

That’s probably not going to happen, but you have to wonder how much he wants to use Aceves with what’s on the horizon.

End 6th, Orioles 6-4: And if the Orioles ever needed a quick inning, that was it. Jeremy Guthrie complied. (See prior post for context.)

Guthrie needed only eight pitches to get this one to the seventh in the hands of the Orioles.

Terry Francona is turning to Alfredo Aceves here. It’s rare when Aceves comes in to a game in the seventh with the team trailing (if he ever enters with Boston losing it’s usually in the fourth or fifth after a bad start). Today is a very different day for Francona in terms of his bullpen usage.

Actually, Francona made a point of saying that if you can win the first game of a doubleheader, you go for it at all costs and worry about the nightcap when you get there. He really meant the use of guys like Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, but I think using Aceves here qualifies. You figure the Sox will have their chances against Guthrie or Baltimore’s pen, and Francona wants to keep the O’s right where they are.

Mid 6th, Orioles 6-4: If the Red Sox ever needed a quick inning, that was it. Felix Doubront complied.

Doubront flies through the sixth and gives Jeremy Guthrie little time to get past a fifth that included many ringing hits.

Boston has nine hits in the game, five for extra bases.

End 5th, Orioles 6-4: Two-out walks. They. Will. Kill. You.

Jeremy Guthrie was one out away from heading into the dugout with a four-run lead. Instead, he put Marco Scutaro on first and opened up the floodgates. Almost. A questionable foul call may have hurt the Red Sox.

Adrian Gonzalez had an RBI double to bring in Scutaro. Dustin Pedroia followed with a triple to make it 6-4 and then David Ortiz struck a ball that seemed to hit fair down the right-field line, but it was ruled foul.

First base coach Ron Johnson was heated, and everyone in the press box figured that Terry Francona was going to get tossed, just because the situation almost begged for it.

Ortiz then flew to the track in center, just missing a home run for about the 58th time this homestand. He showed his frustration by slamming his helmet down about as hard as you can without shattering the thing. Good inning for the Sox, but a frustrating one for Ortiz.

Mid 5th, Orioles 6-2: A nice play by Marco Scutaro ends the top of the fifth.

Because they’ve played from behind so often of late, the Red Sox have had a lot of guys making appearances like the one we are seeing from Felix Doubront right now. Just trying to keep the deficit to a minimum, eat up some innings and hope for a comeback.

But several of those guys have even faltered in that role. It’s been extremely difficult for Terry Francona to get innings from guys not named Alfredo Aceves.

2:20 p.m.: Kyle Weiland had a real opportunity there to give this team, and his young career, a boost. He’ll have to hope to see better days.

Weiland gives the Orioles a run right back when J.J. Hardy leads off the fifth with a long home run to the center-field side of the Green Monster.

Two outs later, he walks Vladimir Guerrero, and Terry Francona has to go to the bullpen for the first time today. It’s Felix Doubront.

End 4th, Orioles 5-2: Fear not, Red Sox fans. You always have the speed of Jarrod Saltalamacchia to pull you through.

That blazing element of Salty’s game was on full display in the fourth as he ripped a triple off the wall in center (it may have caught some of Matt Angle’s glove or body). That’s Saltalamacchia’s third triple of the season. He had just one in his career before 2011.

More importantly, it drove in David Ortiz from first.

Mid 4th, Orioles 5-1: Wish I had some better news for you, folks. Well, my son kicked his cold, so that’s something. It had been bothering him for a few days, really ruined his weekend.

Oh, the game. Right, the game. Well, Kyle Weiland walked the leadoff man. One out later Robert Andio hit his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left.

Moments later it was Nolan Reimold sending another into the seats above the Green Monster. Both were somewhat casual cuts that got up into a swirling breeze at just the right time.

At least Darnell McDonald saw them just fine.

End 3rd, Orioles 2-1: It’s a silly game, this baseball.

Darnell McDonald follows up a miserable defensive inning with a solo homer in the bottom of the third. To think that he wasn’t even in this starting lineup about an hour ago and now he has two misplays in the field and a home run.

He’ll probably pitch the ninth, too.

Mid 3rd, Orioles 2-0: Please read our prior post for some context here.

The sun in left field is brutal right now, but so far it has only hurt the Red Sox, who just had to watch replacement left fielder Darnell McDonald suffer through what has to be one of the worst innings of his career.

With one out, McDonald couldn’t haul in a Nolan Reimold blooper that hit his glove. It went for a hit, but McDonald should’ve had it.

And he definitely should’ve had the next one, a deeper fly that McDonald lost again in the sun. That left runners at second and third. As if his mission was to rub it in McDonald’s face, Matt Angle, who has three RBIs in 21 games as a major leaguer, drove one off the wall over a leaping McDonald to make it 2-0.

End 2nd, 0-0: See, when the Red Sox are going right, they are the kind of team that buries an opponent the second that opponent makes a mistake. They just ain’t going right.

Josh Reddick was given credit for a double when his fly to the track in left was lost in the sun by Nolan Reimold.

But Jeremy Guthrie gets the next two outs in quick fashion, and the Sox have wasted another situation with a man in scoring position.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Maybe someday we talk about this as a defining start for Kyle Weiland.

Sure, it’s only two innings, but it’s been an impressive two innings, and on a day when he needs to impress.

Weiland has struck out four of the first six batters. He fanned as many as 12 in a game in the minors this year, so he has that ability.

End 1st, 0-0: Jeremy Guthrie leads the majors in losses with 17, but he’s no joke. He just plays for one.

Guthrie is 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA over his last five starts, and he is a pro, proving as much by working around a two-on, no-outs situation in the first.

Guthrie struck out Adrian Gonzalez and then got Dustin Pedroia to ground into a double play. Those two are now hitting a combined .228 (28-for-123) in September.

Mid 1st, 0-0: It’s about as basic a statement as one can make, but I’ll make it anyway. The starting pitching is so important today.

As much as Terry Francona keeps saying that he has enough pitchers to cover 27 outs, the options aren’t all that savory. If he can get six or seven out of Kyle Weiland in today’s opener, it sets him up well for the nightcap and for what will be an abreviated Erik Bedard start tomorrow night.

So far, so good. Weiland just struck out two in a perfect first. He threw 61 pitches in his start four days ago so the short rest shouldn’t have too much of an impact.

12:34 p.m.: As we tweeted moments ago, Carl Crawford has been scratched from the lineup with a stiff neck.

Here is the new batting order:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Mike Aviles, 3B
Darnell McDonald, LF

You will recall that Crawford did not start yesterday, only coming off the bench late. We will get more on his condition later.

11:46 a.m.: We just sat down with Buck Showalter to talk “spoiler,” and not the kind idiots afix to their ’98 Honda Accords to make them look mean.

We’ll have some of Showalter’s words on the site in just a bit, as well as a few from Red Sox fans on their rooting interests this week (Rays vs. Yankees).

For now, pour over this Baltimore lineup like your life depends upon it.

Matt Angle, CF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Nick Markakis, RF
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Matt Wieters, C
Chris Davis, 1B
Robert Andino, 2B
Nolan Reimold, LF
Josh Bell, 3B

10:52 a.m.: Just a few quick updates before heading back downstairs to what is a pretty quiet, but business-like clubhouse.

Jed Lowrie is set to return and will do so in the second game of the doubleheader against lefty Brian Matusz.

Terry Francona was holding Lowrie out until he was at a point where he could really help, and he just couldn’t in the past several days.

J.D. Drew is getting his finger checked out and will “maybe move forward” if everything looks good. That implies swinging a bat for the first time in several days. Drew has been throwing and shagging.

Francona was asked about how to manage the bullpen today and tomorrow with three games in a short span. He’ll need all hands on deck if Kyle Weiland needs to be rescued, and has no expectations for Erik Bedard to last deep into Tuesday’s affair.

One guy who may still not be ready to contribute today is Dan Wheeler, who has had some forearm stiffness. Francona said he’ll have to see how Wheeler feels later in the day before ruling him out.

Daniel Bard will be available for one but probably not both games today, even if they are both close. Jonathan Papelbon could throw in both games as long as the workload isn’t too much in the opener.

So as you watch things today, keep a close eye on pitch counts and who gets up in the pen and all that stuff. It is the most important matter of the day.

When asked about those challenges, Francona gave a sarcastic “Thanks” before elaborating on his plan.

“If you’re winning the first game, you go for it, obviously. Winning game one is so important. The hard part is when you’re down a couple runs in the sixth, that’s the hardest one for me on a day like this. Because, for the most part, if you use someone in the first game you lose them for the second game. I hope that when this game’s over I’m not sitting here talking about that.”

10:08 a.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where you can sense the tension in the way the grounds crew rakes the infield. They’re just gripping those things a little too tight.

Indeed, when this doubleheader was scheduled a few months ago, not many of us gave it much thought. We certainly didn’t think that two games near the end of September against Baltimore would be so important.

Some of the Red Sox talked about this as an opportunity, a chance to pack a lot of quality baseball (a rarity these days) into a short period of time.

Here is the crew that will attempt to get it all started in less than three hours.

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

8 a.m. ET: With their wild card lead down to just two games, the Red Sox will play two games against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday at Fenway Park.

Boston dropped three of four to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. It has lost 13 of 17 games this month. With the Rays off Monday, there is a chance that the two teams could be tied in the loss column by the end of the day.

The Red Sox were nine ahead of Tampa Bay in the loss column when the month began.

Terry Francona reiterated Sunday that it all comes down to starting pitching and that his team is playing from behind all too often. The pair looking to put an end to that trend for Boston is Kyle Weiland and John Lackey.

Weiland will throw the opener of the doubleheader opposite Jeremy Guthrie. That game starts at 1:05 p.m. Lackey goes against struggling lefty Brian Matusz in the nightcap, set for a 7:10 p.m. start.

We will be there to carry you through all the action.

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