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Orioles 6, Red Sox 4
It is perhaps their lowest moment yet: with Josh Beckett on the mound, facing off against a woeful Tommy Hunter, the Red Sox have been defeated by the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night.
Josh Beckett for five innings was about as good as he's ever been. While he allowed a solo shot to Mark Reynolds in the second inning, it was on a pitch that went where he wanted it to, more or less, and was more the result of a good swing than anything else. Otherwise, he was on fire, striking out five batters while facing just two over the minimum.
The failure, ultimately, was not the sort of crash and burn act that Sox fans have gotten used to, but a slow, gradual sinking into the ocean that has been September. The sixth saw a run come in on a pair of singles (with a stolen base thrown in), but Beckett still looked alright, so he was back out for the seventh, where again it was Mark Reynolds bringing the pain with a long ball--this time a two-run shot off a hanging curveball that tied the game.
Still, the game remained tied, and so with the bullpen one giant mess, Beckett remained in...right up until he was stuck in a second-and-third situation with one out. In came Aceves, and on his second pitch of the game, away went the tie. Vladimir Guerrero singled up the middle, two runs came across, and that, as they say, was that.
Three For The Road
The Red Sox will not be AL East Champions in 2011, though there wasn't really much question about that anymore. The Yankees have officially clinched the American League East with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Of course, when combined with the Yankees' win in the first half of their doubleheader with the Rays, that New York victory means that the Red Sox actually gained half a game in the wild card race. It hardly feels like it.
And that is why. Nothing more really needs be said.
Up Next -- A blissful off-day.
It’s a two player game between Carl Crawford and Mark Reynolds right now, and the result is a 4-4 ties as the latter’s second homer of the night brought the Orioles back from a 4-2 deficit in the seventh.
After the Sox and Orioles traded runs between the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, Josh Beckett returned to the mound in the eighth with an entirely reasonable pitch count. But, with Matt Wieters on first and one out, one bad curveball really undid the good from his outing. The pitch in question broke out over the plate, and with one more vicious hack Mark Reynolds brought the Orioles even with another shot out towards the Monster.
Once again, things just aren’t going right for the Red Sox.
It took until September, but Carl Crawford has finally pushed his OPS up over .700. He’s chosen a good time to do so, to, as his two big hits are the biggest reasons that the Sox currently have a 3-1 lead over the Orioles.
The first came leading off the third inning. Shooting an 0-1 fastball into right field and to the wall, Crawford sped around the bases and ended up on third, essentially ensuring the Sox would at least come away from the inning with a tie—which they did, on Jason Varitek’s ground ball out.
The Sox didn’t make the best of that situation, given an inning-ending double play with men on the corners, but they did take advantage of a pair of hits in the fourth from Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia. While Josh Reddick’s ground ball ddin’t bring anyone in, leaving the Sox with two outs, Carl Crawford stepped up and didn’t bother waiting for the second pitch this time. The first one ended up being bounced off the Monster for a double, bringing both runs in to score and giving the Sox the 3-1 lead.
Josh Beckett, meanwhile, has gotten back to retiring hitters, and doing so fast. The low pitch count that’s resulted is good news for a Sox team that has had to throw far too many bullpen innings over the last few games.
The Red Sox are once again on bottom early thanks to a second-inning solo shot from Mark Reynolds off of Josh Beckett.
While Beckett seems to be throwing the ball well in the first two innings, striking out two batters in the first with good velocity and a well-spotted curveball, a poor choice of pitches—a cut fastball in Reynolds’ wheelhouse—proved costly with two outs in the second. Reynolds cleaned the pitch out, turning it into a towering fly ball that stayed fair and left the park to give the Orioles the 1-0 lead.
The Sox’ offense, meanwhile, has done a good job of putting the bat on the ball, making some loud outs. But so far, outs are all they’ve gotten, with Tommy Hunter retiring the first six men to come to the plate.
The Red Sox will turn to Josh Beckett Wednesday night, hoping for a big win that--with the Rays having already dropped the first half of their doubleheader--could prove vital to securing their playoff spot.
With their defeat at the hands of Hector Noesi, the Rays are now 2.5 games back in the wild card race, and still have to face CC Sabathia in the nightcap. Should the Red Sox win and the Rays lose, that would move Boston's lead to 3.5 games with just six games left to play (seven for the Rays). Just to give an example, if Boston could manage even just a 2-4 record in their remaining contests, the Rays would need to go 6-1 to force a one-game playoff.
Of course, even with all the pitching matchups so perfectly aligned, that's a pretty big if. After all, these Red Sox have found ways to lose time and again in September, even when things seemed to be going entirely their way. Time after time, there was just enough wrong to lead to ruin.
What they need now is another one of those major blowouts that seem to be the only way they win. A shutdown outing from Beckett, and a double-digit performance from the offense. A win so certain that no individual mistake can possibly ruin it.
The offense in question will be...curious, with Mike Aviles batting second not to let Dustin Pedroia clean up, but in order to let him hit fifth. Personell-wise, however, the only anomaly will be Jason Varitek, who makes his usual start behind the plate with Beckett on the mound.
Boston Red Sox (88-67)
Baltimore Orioles (64-90)
Pitching Matchup: Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50 ERA) vs. Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81 ERA)
Josh Beckett's last start--his first in 11 days--wasn't the cleanest the Sox' ace has seen so far this season, but it was strong all-the-same, and given how the Sox were performing against the Rays at the time, anything short of disaster has to be seen as a rousing success. Oddly, though, Baltimore has been one of the few teams to really give Beckett trouble this year; they've twice held him shy of a quality start so far.
Tommy Hunter hasn't exactly lived up to his Texas performance since joining Baltimore, and that shouldn't really be any big surprise. Hunter's style of pitching to contact may have worked with players like Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus behind him, but with Baltimore's sieve-like defense, it's no wonder that he's seen such a sharp drop off. If the Sox take what he gives them, there's no reason that they shouldn't be able to score a good few runs.
Orioles 7, Red Sox 5
For the Red Sox, something is always wrong.
It is, quite frankly, amazing how consistent they are about it. Unless they have put themselves in a position where it's absolutely impossible to lose--such as in Monday's 18-9 rout--then the Red Sox will, inevitably, lose.
Tonight, the game was bookended by failures in the third and eighth which, when put together, were simply too much to overcome.
For the first time in ages, the Red Sox actually took a 1-0 lead out of the gate, with Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez doubling in the first inning to put Boston up early. With Erik Bedard pitching smoothly for the first two innings and the Sox picking up some more baserunners along the way, the stage seemed set for the first back-to-back wins of September.
Instead, with two outs, Bedard offered up an RBI double to Nick Markakis, and then a line drive to Vladimir Guerrero. The latter should have ended the inning, and completely changed the game. Instead, Josh Reddick started in, hesitated, and then tried to make a leaping grab, only succeeding in knocking the ball into the dirt. From there, Bedard seemed to lose control, walking the bases loaded and giving up a two-RBI ground ball, leaving the game with a 4-1 deficit.
The Red Sox quickly fought back with a two-run shot from Adrian Gonzalez in the bottom half of the third, and between a few singles, a walk, and an errant throw on a would-have-been-inning-ending double play in the fourth, the Sox actually took a 5-4 lead.
Amazingly, the bullpen held. Scott Atchison got by thanks to a few caught stealings from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Albers threw a strong sixth, and Daniel Bard went 1-2-3 in the seventh. But he just couldn't handle the eighth. A pair of singles sandwiched around a strikeout to start the inning led Terry Francona to turn to Jonathan Papelbon. The closer would strike out Chris Davis, load the bases on a single to Nolan Reimold, and then go to 3-2 against Robert Andino. The sixth pitch of the at bat had life, but moved across the middle of the zone, and was shot into right field. The bases cleared, the lead fell apart, and the Red Sox lost.
Par for the course.
Three For The Road
Thank You, New York
At least the Yankees won. It's a vile thing to say, yes, but with the Rays being the primary WC competition, having them lose 5-0 makes this terrible failure to perform at least slightly more tolerable. That it comes at the benefit of the New York Yankees...well, beggars can't be choosers, as they say.
Something always goes wrong in Erik Bedard's starts. If it hadn't been for Reddick's pathetic play in the outfield, the night may have gone so much differently. The lefty's velocity was up in normal ranges, his curveball was breaking hard, and often into the zone where he would want it, and he'd been on target for most of the game. But that error just seemed to throw him completely off. That he would have trouble with the later portions of his outing in a return game seems pretty intuitive to begin with, but he does seem to have the worst luck of any of the Red Sox' starters.
The Worst Of Times
Jonathan Papelbon hadn't allowed a run in over two months before Tuesday's game. It would be remarkably bad timing...except that this seems to be typical of the Red Sox these days. Choose any player on the team, and the one day they'll choose to have their bad game will come at the exact right time to ensure completely a close Sox loss.
Up Next -- Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. | Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50 ERA) vs. Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81)
If the Sox don't at least split this series, they might as well schedule tee times for October.
The Red Sox saw Erik Bedard’s first start end after just 2.2 innings of work, but have fought back to take a 5-4 lead after five innings of baseball Tuesday night.
The trouble for Erik Bedard came with two outs in the third inning. With a man on first, Bedard fought a 7-pitch battle with Nick Markakis which ended on a high fastball that the right fielder shot into center field for an RBI double, bringing the Orioles even with the Sox.
That’s where things should have ended, as Vlad Guerrero hit a hard liner into right that seemed entirely playable for a well-positioned Reddick. But instead of heading slightly back, Reddick came in, hesitated, and then made a leaping attempt at the ball. He only succeeded in knocking it into the dirt, however, allowing the Orioles to take the 2-1 lead.
What followed was a total meltdown from Erik Bedard, who lost control after the error. The Orioles loaded the bases on a pair of walks, and then took a 4-1 lead as Mark Reynolds grounded past third, chasing Bedard from the game.
The Sox wasted little time getting back in the game. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a double into center field, and up came Adrian Gonzalez. After planting one off the Monster in the first inning, Gonzo went just that little bit farther this time, taking a 2-1 fastball and leaving it in the seats to pull the Sox back within one.
One inning later, and the Sox went ahead and took the lead, picking up a walk and then three straight singles to tie the game, and then pulling ahead on an errant throw to first as the Orioles tried to turn a double play on Adrian Gonzalez’ ground ball.
While Scott Atchison seemed ready to come apart a bit in the fifth inning, a couple of strong throws to second from Jarrod Saltalamacchia saw two runners cut down, and Buck Showalter ejected as he came out to argue the call.
The Red Sox have scored first, for once, getting to Baltimore starter Rick VandenHurk in the first inning.
Really, the offensive attack for the Red Sox has been more effective than the score would suggest. Dustin Pedroia hit a one-out ground rule double to right field, and touched home when Adrian Gonzalez turned the very next pitch into a wall-ball double. The Sox would then proceed to load the bases, but Marco Scutaro’s fly ball died just short of the Monster, leaving them loaded.
The Sox would put another man on in Mike Aviles in the second, but a line out by Jacoby Ellsbury to second left him dead in the water and doubled up at first base.
Erik Bedard, meanwhile, has been strong through two, allowing just a pair of baserunners and flashing both his usual velocity and a hard-breaking curve. No sign, so far, of the Bedard who had so much trouble against Tampa when he made his return for Seattle.
After missing Monday's doubleheader with a stiff neck, Carl Crawford will return to Boston's lineup Tuesday night as the Sox take on inexperienced righty Rick VandenHurk.
While Carl Crawford's year still isn't looking particularly impressive, the lefty outfielder's performances have been better in the last couple of months, and he was one of the only players who was actually hitting throughout the Tampa Bay series. And while Crawford will at least have to come up with a homer to match his replacements' contributions from Monday, it seems unlikely that he will, say, allow two straight easy fly balls to drop in.
I'm looking at you, Darnell McDonald.
The rest of the lineup is, thankfully, par-for-the-course, though Kevin Youkilis remains out with Mike Aviles playing third in his place.
Boston Red Sox (88-66)
Baltimore Orioles (63-90)
Pitching Matchup: Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50 ERA) vs. Rick VandenHurk (0-0, 6.00 ERA)
It's been more than two weeks since Erik Bedard's last start with the Boston Red Sox. And while the last couple outings were not especially impressive peripherally speaking, the Sox have missed his steady presence in the middle of the rotation. The fact of the matter is that Bedard hasn't had one really bad start yet, with his worst outings being the results of bad defense or strike zone sizes. Certainly he's never produced anything like the Red Sox saw out of John Lackey and Kyle Weiland in recent days--at least not since he's come to Boston.
His last disaster, however, did happen to come with his return to Seattle after his trip to the disabled list. The lay-off was about twice as long, but it's still a point of concern.
As for VandenHurk, well, he's thrown 178 Major League innings, and not too many of them have been terribly good judging by the 5.87 ERA. He's had a mediocre Minor League stint this year, and in his first start against Toronto gave up two homers in under three innings of work. In other words, he's got the perfect combination of mediocrity and lack of name recognition to shut the Sox down for nine innings!
Unless, of course, superstition fails to hold true.
Red Sox 18, Orioles 9
After a morning game ruined by an umpiring mistake, the Red Sox' offense took out its frustrations on Brian Matusz and the Orioles' bullpen, scoring 18 runs in order to overcome a terrible start from the beleaguered John Lackey.
The Orioles were hot out of the gate against Lackey, with the first thee batters all reaching, and a sac fly and a single allowing three runs to score before he could record three outs. While the pressure on Lackey wouldn't relent, the Sox had more than enough in the tank to respond.
With Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez both singling to put runners on the corners with one out, Dustin Pedroia grounded into a force out to bring Ellsbury in and put the Sox on the board. David Ortiz doubled into left to keep the inning, bringing Jed Lowrie to the plate. It had been nearly a week since Lowrie last played in a game, and even longer since he made a meaningful contribution. Monday night, he changed all that, launching a three-run shot into the Monster seats to give the Sox a 4-3 lead at the end of the first.
Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia would bring in two more runs in the second, chasing Brian Matusz from the game, but even the six runs wouldn't prove to be enough to sustain Lackey past the third. After a 2-out wild pitch to Vladimir Guerrero turned a strikeout into a baserunner, Lackey allowed a single and a walk to load the bases before a flair to right off the bat of Nolan Reimold left the Orioles down by just one.
That's when the Red Sox pulled away...for the first time. A massive 2-out rally saw the Sox put together six straight hits starting with Darnell McDonald's infield single which bounced off of Chris Davis' glove at first after a low throw from J.J. Hardy, and ended when David Ortiz' infield single (into the shift, but still) brought in the fifth run of the inning.
Somehow, though, John Lackey proved capable of losing most of even that 11-5 lead, giving up a run in the fourth and then two more in the fifth before being pulled (he somehow managed to appear surprised that he was being removed even then). Franklin Morales gave up a walk and a double to bring the Rays within two runs at 11-9, but then the Sox finally put away the Orioles in exciting fashion in the seventh.
It all started with Jacoby Ellsbury. A 2-2 changeup stayed too high over the outside part of the plate, and the young centerfielder launched a long fly ball to right field. As Matt Angle closed on the ball in center, the ball bounced off the wall separating the bullpen from the triangle in center, ending up well to the center fielder's left. Jacoby Ellsbury rounded second, headed to third, and then as the throw came in from the outfield, came into home plate standing up for the inside-the-park home run.
What followed would be something of a Red Sox conga line, as the Sox sent five men onto the basepaths with singles and walks, scoring two and leaving the bases loaded. Up stepped Conor Jackson, and on a 2-1 fastball, the game was put to rest in resounding fashion. The backup outfielder found the Monster seats, unloading the bases for a grand slam and leaving the Sox up 18-9--a score which wouldn't change.
Three For The Road
Ellsbury Boosts MVP Candidacy
While it seems unlikely in the face of Bautista's huge numbers and Verlander's surprising candidacy as a starter, Jacoby Ellsbury's highlight homer is the sort of thing that adds punctuation marks on big seasons. It also doesn't hurt that, even before today's strong performance, the center fielder was leading the majors in Fangraphs' WAR (wins above replacement) figure at 8.5. That number is sure to grow come the morning.
The Problem Of John Lackey
Who will start the fourth game of the playoffs if the Red Sox make it? The answer to that has always been John Lackey, but after tonight's outing, it's got to be hard for the Sox to write that name on the lineup card. Were they allowed a 40-man roster, a bullpen combination might even be preferable. But with just 25, the only thing the Sox can do is sit and hope that maybe, just maybe Clay Buchholz can make a start.
The Red Sox have now scored in double digits five times during their miserable September. The key will be to actually keep their production up for once, as in the fourteen other games they've never scored more than five runs even once.
Red Sox MVP -- Jacoby Ellsbury
Conor Jackson hit a grand slam, Jed Lowrie got them off to the hot start, and Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with a walk and four RBI. But there's something about an inside-the-park homer that, when combined with his single and double, make Ellsbury's night untouchable.
Up Next -- Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. | Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50 ERA) vs. Rick VandenHurk (0-0, 6.00)
The challenge Tuesday for both managers will be to figure out the bullpen situation after two games full of relievers. The question will be: is Erik Bedard out because he had a bad game, or just because of a low pitch limit for the returning starter. Hopefully, the answer for the inexperienced VandenHurk will be the former.
The Red Sox are ahead by just two runs despite putting up five runs in the third.
After John Lackey had given up two runs to bring the Orioles back to just one down in the top half of the frame, a major 2-out rally put the Sox on top by a huge amount. With Jed Lowrie on first, Darnell McDonald singled to bring him in, and then came home on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double into the corner in left. The top of the Sox’ order would pick up four straight singles before the Orioles finally recorded the third out of the inning.
Unfortunately, Terry Francona wasn’t willing to end John Lackey’s night just yet, and so the Orioles were given a free opportunity to get back into the game. They pushed one across on a Nick Markakis triple in the fourth, and then two more on three hits in the fifth before he was mercifully pulled. With Franklin Morales allowing a walk and a double in the sixth, the Orioles were back to within just two.
The Red Sox are clinging to a 6-5 lead through the first two-and-a-half innings in what is fast becoming a complete mockery of a baseball game.
John Lackey, facing a lineup largely comprised of no-names and has-beens (and J.J. Hardy), promptly allowed three baserunners to reach to start the game off, bringing in two runs after Vladimir Guerrero’s sacrifice fly. One more single, and suddenly it was 3-0 before the Red Sox even had a chance to bat.
The good news is that Brian Matusz is also quite terrible. While the Sox only scored their first run on the play that resulted in their second out of the inning, David Ortiz followed it up with a double, leaving runners at second and third, and Jed Lowrie finally showed some life, absolutely crushing a fly ball up and over the Monster, completely out of Fenway park, putting the Sox up 5-4.
The scoring would continue in the second for Boston, with Jason Varitek and Darnell McDonald reaching to start the inning. Marco Scutaro doubled the captain home, and while Darnell McDonald would be caught between third and home after a late stop sign from Tim Bogar, the Sox would add another tally on Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single to right.
John Lackey even seemed ready to start recording some outs after a 9-pitch second. With two outs and nobody on in the third, he threw a ball in the dirt to Vlad Guerrero for strike three, but the pitch got away from Jason Varitek, allowing Baltimore’s DH to reach base. That seemed to open the floodgates, as a single and a walk loaded the bases, setting up Nolan Reimold to bring in two men with a flare to right field, pulling the Orioles to within just one run of the Sox.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 5
The Red Sox have lost again--that makes 14 times in 18 games--but what makes this one worse than so many of the others is how incredibly winnable it was.
In fact, you could even say that the Red Sox didn't strictly lose this one.
The controversy came only well after the Sox had allowed the Orioles to build a lead, and then chipped slowly away at it. Kyle Weiland received the start on the mound for Boston, and much like in his last start, was struck by defensive disaster after throwing a pair of 1-2-3 innings to start the game.
This time the incompetence came from Darnell McDonald, getting the start in left for a stiff-necked Carl Crawford. The first fly ball of the third inning went out to left, and Darnell McDonald promptly lost it in the sun, allowing it to drop in for a hit. In the very next at bat, the ball again found its way to left field, where Darnell McDonald ran it down...and let it clank off his bat. Just like that, and Baltimore had two men on and one down when the inning should have been over. To McDonald's "credit," he could not entirely be expected to make a play on the two-run double off the scoreboard that followed, but both runs are firmly in his name.
If Weiland's troubles had ended there, all would have been well-and-good. Instead, the spot starting prospect proceeded to give up three bombs over the next two innings, allowing Baltimore to increase their scoring tally to six runs on the day.
The Red Sox offense, however, was not going to go down without a fight. McDonald made up for one of his errors with a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the third, and a two-out triple from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth gave the Sox a second run.
Here's where we hit our controversy.
The fifth inning proved the most productive yet for the Red Sox. A walk for Marco Scutaro, a double for Adrian Gonzalez, and a triple for Dustin Pedroia had the Sox within two runs. Up stepped David Ortiz. Swinging at the first pitch, Papi planted a ball off the wall in right field, clearly on or past the foul line. It should have been a fifth run, instead it was ruled a foul not just by one umpire, but by a conference of all four. With David Ortiz flying out to end the inning, however, the Sox were left with just four.
The Sox would score once more in the game, and thanks to some nifty escape acts from Alfredo Aceves, the Orioles would be left at six. The final score: 6-5, separated by one run that should have scored.
Three For The Road
Or, rather, three to blame.
Three Homers For Weiland
He's being asked to pitch in a role he shouldn't be, but Kyle Weiland can't just give up three homers. The first time through, Weiland was killing it, striking out four of the first six batters he faced using some impressive breaking stuff. The second time through, and he was absolutely destroyed, falling behind time and again and leaving sliders over the plate. It's just not good enough.
Two Botches For McDonald
He was only charged with one error, but it definitely should have been two. While before the game I was hoping that Crawford being out wouldn't mean Conor Jackson in left, at this point I'm glad it does. Every time McDonald goes out there and gives some inkling that he's ready to be a decent backup again, he ruins it by pulling college-level stuff like this.
One Huge Mistake For The Umpires
If Ortiz' hit is called fair, this is a tie game. Simple as that.
Up Next -- Monday, 7:10 p.m. | John Lackey (12-12, 6.19 ERA) vs. Brian Matusz (1-7, 9.84 ERA)
If they can't win this one, then there's no hope.
The Red Sox have seen the game get away from them, pulled it back, and then had a chance for a tie game snatched away by a bad call from not one, but all four umpires.
The bad luck for Boston came only after some terrible pitching by Kyle Weiland, who seemed to fall apart after he was hurt in the third inning by Darnell McDonald’s defense. Instead of giving the outfield more chances, Weiland just gave up three homers over the next two innings, before being pulled with two outs in the fifth for Felix Doubront.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense finally woke up some. Darnell McDonald provided the first run with a solo shot in the bottom of the third, making up for one of his two mistakes in the top of the frame. Jarrod Saltalamacchia tripled home David Ortiz in the fourth to give the Sox another run, but the fifth is when things really started to get going. A 2-out walk to Marco Scutaro was followed by back-to-back doubles from Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia, pulling the Sox within two runs. David Ortiz stepped up, and hooked the first pitch he saw into right field.
It should have been a double. The replay clearly showed that the ball hit either the line, or to the left of it. Except the first base umpire called foul, and not a single other ump was able to make the correct “fair” call after a conference. Ortiz took another big swing a few pitches later, but the ball died in dead center, and the Sox were robbed of at least a run, and possibly also some momentum.
The Orioles have taken a 2-0 lead over the Red Sox thanks to a pair of botched plays in the outfield by Darnell McDonald.
A late replacement for Carl Crawford, held out of the game with a stiff neck, Darnell McDonald was given the start in left field. So far, he’s done about as well as a cardboard cutout of himself.
After Kyle Weiland started very strong, striking out four of the first six batters he faced in two scoreless innings, the Sox’ starter allowed a fly ball to left field. With the sun in his eyes, Darnell McDonald allowed the easy out to fall in for a cheap hit. One batter later, and McDonald botched another play, allowing a line drive to clank off of his glove to put runners at the corner. Seeing fit to test the beleaguered outfielder once more, Matt Angle sent another fly ball in his direction, bouncing it off the scoreboard just beyond his reach and bringing both men in.
The Sox, meanwhile, have been stranding runners as they are so often wont to do. While both Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro reached to start the first, a strikeout and a double play quickly ended the threat, and the Sox could do nothing following Josh Reddick’s one-out double in the second.
The Sox won't be pulling any punches out of the gates against the Baltimore Orioles, slating their full lineup to go against Jeremy Guthrie in the first half of Monday's day-night doubleheader.
The good news is that, despite a few weaknesses caused by slumps, the Sox' lineup is on an individual level still performing fairly well when you consider the run prevention focused teams they've had to face. Kevin Youkilis is out, yes, but Mike Aviles has been teeing off on opposing pitchers of late, and if Gonzalez and Pedroia can find their swings against the mediocre pitching and defense of Baltimore, then suddenly everything will be right in the world again.
Boston Red Sox (87-65)
The Orioles' lineup, on the other hand, looks...unfinished.
Baltimore Orioles (62-89)
Pitching Matchup: Kyle Weiland (0-2, 7.58 ERA) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (8-17, 4.22 ERA)
Amazingly, the Sox will somehow be on the wrong end of a matchup in this series, with the Orioles throwing the best they have against, arguably, the worst the Sox have.
Still, the numbers aren't entirely fair to Kyle Weiland, who had a good streak going through the first two innings of his last outing, but had things go terribly wrong when a broken bat forced Marco Scutaro out of the way of a ground ball, leading directly to one run and indirectly to the three-run homer from Longoria that followed. Instead of allowing one run in three-plus innings, Weiland allowed four in three. If he can pitch as well as he did last time, then he should actually give Boston a chance to win.
Unfortunately, Jeremy Guthrie might actually be able to hold the Sox down as well. He's been tremendously effective against them in three different games this year, and is on a good run of late. If his slider is on, then the only question for Baltimore might be whether or not the defense can do its job behind him.
Having dropped their series to the Rays, the Sox kick off a must-win series against the Orioles with a pitching-light doubleheader.
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