Final, 5-1 Red Sox: When the Sox get that kind of pitching, they just aren't going to lose many games. It took a while for the offense to get going, but there is probably no one you'd rather see carry the big bat than Adrian Gonzalez, who badly needed to show that he's still capable of putting up the kind of power numbers he's showed throughout his career.
Aaron Cook really did most of the work, but Vicente Padilla (3-0) picks up the win, while Leyson Septimo (0-1) gets saddled with the loss.
The Red Sox move two games over .500 to 46-44, while the White Sox see their record fall to 49-40. Time of the game is 2:40.
Well, that's all from us here at your Red Sox Live Blog, but you can stay with NESN.com for all your postgame needs, and check back tomorrow (first pitch again at 7:10 p.m. ET) for another edition of our live blog.
Bottom 8th, 4-1 Red Sox: All season the Red Sox have been waiting for Gonzalez to hit with the kind of power expected of him, and he couldn't have picked a better time to flash it than right there, making Leyson Septimo pay for those two leadoff walks.
It's been said before, but if Gonzalez returns to form, then the depth of the Red Sox lineup borderlines on absurd, particularly with Crawford and Ellsbury back on the field.
Bottom 8th, 1-1: A quick note on that walk to David Ortiz. That's the 10th consecutive game in which the designated hitter has had both a hit and a walk, breaking the previous record of nine consecutive games set by Ted Williams in 1950.
Yeah, that's some pretty impressive company.
Mid 8th, 1-1: While Franklin Morales continues to work on his transformation back into a starting pitcher, Vicente Padilla sure looks comfortable going the other direction. After for years being a talented arm short on major results, the right-hander seems to have found his role, becoming a dominant seventh and eighth inning guy for the Sox this season.
End 7th, 1-1: So, apparently, tonight is Boston Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan's final Red Sox game as a member of the media.
Locals know him as a longtime Celtics beat writer and one of the best journalists in the business. Others outside the market may known him from his appearances on ESPN's Around the Horn, becoming one of the larger personalities on the show.
Ryan is set to retire from the business at the conclusion of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. As the part of NESN that works on NESN.com is known as "New Media," it does necessitate a bit of sadness to mention that Ryan's reasoning for leaving the business is being uncomfortable with the new dynamics of the business and increased use of technology.
We're kind of sorry to have to report that from a live blog.
Mid 7th, 1-1: Well, we're at the seventh inning stretch, and, quite honestly, there isn't a lot to report. What else can you say about Aaron Cook other than he continues to look great.
It's something that really speaks to the potential of this Red Sox team. The offense, even throughout all the injuries, has remained one of the best in the American League, while the starting pitching has stumbled a bit. However, it's the front end of the rotation — Jon Lester and Josh Beckett — that hasn't really lived up to expectations, while the back end continues to shoulder a large load. If they could all get on the same page and create an effective unit one through five then, well, the sky's the limit for the Sox.
End 6th, 1-1: Nice play by Beckham on Gonzalez in that last half inning. While the infielder has been great on the defensive end of the ball during his White Sox career, otherwise he's one of the more disappointing draft picks to come along in recent years.
After being selected eighth overall in the 2008 draft, and then spending exactly 364 days in the minor leagues — where he largely raked — Beckham was supposed to be the kind of rare middle infielder who could affect the game both with his glove and with his bat. However, that clearly hasn't worked out for the club, as the 25-year-old carries a sub-.700 OPS through through three major league seasons and more than 1,600 at-bats.
Mid 6th, 1-1: Important frame for Cook there, who gets through the White Sox' two most dangerous hitters, Dunn and Konerko, with the go-ahead run on second.
The Red Sox are still waiting on the offense to break through, but every inning he goes out there Cook is making a good case for himself to be a continued presence in the Red Sox starting rotation.
End 5th, 1-1: Ciriaco has provided just about all of the Red Sox offense since the first inning, owning the only two hits for the team since that point.
Suffice to say, the Sox will look forward to getting Axelrod off the hill, as Chicago already had action in its bullpen during that last half inning.
Mid 5th, 1-1: With 71 pitches through his first five innings of work, economical is the word of the day for Aaron Cook. Given the groove he's in, it's probably important that he's looking in good shape through five, while through four innings Axelrod already stands at 73 pitches — largely due to that rough first inning. The way the White Sox starter has looked thus far, it will be a positive if Boston can get into Chicago's bullpen earlier rather than later.
End 4th, 1-1: Since a rough first inning, the only hit that Axelrod has allowed has been Ciriaco's two-out, second-inning double. After striking out the side there, he's retired the last seven Red Sox he's faced
Mid 4th, 1-1: Overhearing Pierzynski joke with beat reporters before the game while watching the Kevin Youkilis press conference, it's apparent the veteran catcher has a lot of personality — we might even make the jump that he's pretty funny.
However, it also brings to mind the fact that his personality has also gotten Pierzynski quite a reputation around Major League Baseball, as Men's Journal announced that he was baseball's most hated player earlier this season. Angels fans still boo him to this day for the 2005 American League Championship Series.
End 3rd, 1-1: Since that first inning, when he went over the 30-pitch mark and looked to be having location issues, Axelrod has really settled in for the White Sox. In fact, both pitchers look fairly comfortable on the hill. We could be in for many more ground balls on the night, as both pitchers look to be featuring effective cutters.
Mid 3rd, 1-1: Aaron Cook continues to roll right along since his return to the Red Sox. In his three starts since coming up from Pawtucket, Cook has done everything the Sox have asked for and more, allowing opponents just a .602 OPS over 20 innings — and you can add three more scoreless ones so far tonight.
End 2nd, 1-1: With the Red Sox lineup now basically one piece — second baseman Dustin Pedroia — from full health, the everyday lineup is starting to come into focus, and boy does it have the potential to be scary.
With Crawford now occupying the No. 2 hole between Ellsbury and Ortiz, the ripple effect for the rest of the nine is depth. In short, the Red Sox have Middlebrooks and his .543 slugging percentage batting seventh in the order. That's the kind of depth that makes it very difficult for pitchers to get a breather against lesser hitters, only increasing the number of mistakes they make.
Mid 2nd, 1-1: Already two errors and some sloppy defense for the Red Sox, both on questionable throwing decisions. Granted, a good throw by Cook gets the lead runner, Pierzynski, but it was going to to be a close play anyway, which begs the question whether or not the Sox should have just taken the out at first.
It's a bang-bang play, but already Boston has given Chicago eight outs to work with through two innings.
End 1st, 1-1: Hard not to notice the rather tepid applause for the return of Carl Crawford as he took his first at-bat in that last half inning, particularly in comparison to the reception Youkilis received.
However, after his single up the middle, Crawford showed exactly why he's so dangerous, and how he's able to impact the game in so many different ways. Dancing off first base, it appeared that Axelrod was never fully focused on Ortiz, and as a result left a ball in the middle of the plate on his sharply hit single to center. Speed can help your team in many ways.
Mid 1st, 1-0 White Sox: Nice moment for Youkilis there, who even went so far as to doff his helmet in appreciation of the support the Fenway faithful showed.
Then, perhaps appropriately, Youkilis did what he does best and made something happen out of nothing on a pure hustle play, taking advantage of the inexperience of his former protoge Middlebrooks, who got caught not covering his base. That being said, Gonzalez had no business throwing that ball over to try and get him, and the result is an unearned run against Cook.
7:12 p.m.: We have first pitch! And for those wondering, the game time temperature is 79 degrees.
5 p.m.: Carl Crawford is back in Boston, and he'll be thrown right into the fire in his first game with the Red Sox this season.
Crawford will hit second and play left field against the White Sox in his 2012 debut with the Sox.
Crawford will get his first look at Dylan Axelrod. The right-hander has never started a game against the Red Sox, but does have one career appearance versus Boston, working 2 1/3 innings of relief on April 27.
Kevin Youkilis will hit second and play third base for the White Sox in his first return to Fenway Park since being traded to Chicago last month.
Here are the lineups for the first of four between the two teams.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Cody Ross, RF
Jarrod Saltalalmacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Mike Aviles, SS
Pedro Ciriaco, 2B
Aaron Cook, RHP
Alejandro De Aza, CF
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Adam Dunn, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Dayan Viciedo, LF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Gordon Beckham, 2B
Dylan Axelrod, RHP
8 a.m.: The Red Sox have come out of the All-Star break on a mission, taking two of three from the Rays in Tampa Bay. Now, the Sox are getting even healthier with the return of Carl Crawford to the Boston lineup.
Crawford, who hasn't suited up for the Red Sox at all in 2012, will make his first appearance of the season in Boston on Monday. The left fielder's isn't the only player returning to Fenway Park this week, though, as Kevin Youkilis makes his way back to the Fens for the first time since being traded to the White Sox in June.
Tune into NESN for all the coverage, starting with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. First Pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.
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