The ceremonies are done with, Josh Beckett has received a mix of boos and cheers, and now all that's left is to play some baseball as the Sox and Rays face off in Fenway Park's 2012 home opener.
It's been rough going for the Sox so far, of that there's no doubt, and it's going to be hard to turn things around against David Price and the Rays. The Sox will need some strong pitching from Josh Beckett and positive performances from their right-handed platoon hitters if they want to have success.
Still, the Rays' lineup is quite thin after you get through the first half, and home cooking is often exactly what is called for to turn this sort of slump around. It was, after all, the home opener against the Yankees which got the Red Sox their first win in 2011.
We'll keep you up to date on all the action as it happens in Fenway.
Rays 2, Red Sox 12, Final -- Mark Melancon just couldn't avoid giving up the home run, could he? It came off the bat of Ben Zobrist, thus keeping his from possibly gaining some confidence or instilling some in Bobby Valentine, but at least it came in garbage time.
The Sox win, Beckett was good, and the lineup was back to looking like the Red Sox' lineup--even before the big inning they were working counts like the good old days.
Red Sox win!
Rays 1, Red Sox 12, End 8th -- So, a lot happened that inning.
It would take forever and a day to narrate it all, so let's just go with this:
The Sox sent 14 batters to the plate, resulting in three doubles, two walks, five singles, a hit batter, and a sacrifice fly.
Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, and Kelly Shoppach recorded the three outs. They also had a walk, a single, and a double respectively, however, so it's not all bad.
With eight runs scoring, this one is well and truly over.
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, Mid 8th -- Josh Beckett has his strikeout streak in tact, finally recording one in the eighth inning against Carlos Pena, who may not have seen a single fastball in the whole at bat.
It was another 1-2-3 inning for Beckett, who received some help from Darnell McDonald, who made a diving grab behind him to keep the leadoff runner off. It's been a very good day in left for McDonald, who has tracked back and come forward as needed to grab a good few hard hit balls. Perhaps the shade of the monster is all he needed?
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, End 7th -- Wade Davis strikes out Dustin Pedroia, gives up a hit to Adrian Gonzalez, then strikes out Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. At this rate he's going to save the Rays bullpen for tomorrow's game.
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, Mid 7th -- Josh Beckett is through seven innings now on just 81 pitches against an ultra-aggressive Tampa Bay team.
So far, Beckett hasn't recorded a single strikeout, but with the Rays swinging early in every at bat that's not a huge surprise. He's allowed some decent contact along the way, but on some level that's just a matter of how many balls the Rays are putting in play--plenty more have been weak grounders or routine fly balls, and he's only rarely ever seemed in danger.
It's a good bounce back for Beckett after what happened in Detroit. Now he just has to keep it going for as long as he's asked.
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, End 6th -- The Sox didn't score any runs despite some lucky baserunners in the form of Mike Aviles (reached on an error) and Kelly Shoppach (single through a largely vacated right side of the infield), but they did get some much needed comic relief as Kelly Shoppach took off on a delayed steal of second. The best part? The slide, where Shoppach went down to one knee a few yards out, got back up, then lunged forward to complete the steal.
Y'know what? Just wait for the .gif. It really needs to be seen.
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, Mid 6th -- Evan Longoria gave one a ride to the triangle, and Matt Joyce managed to reach base with a line drive single, but the Sox are out of another scoreless inning, and Josh Beckett has needed just 75 pitches to get through six of them. Even if the strikeouts aren't there, it's an encouraging day after what happened in Detroit.
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, End 5th -- Wade Davis responds to Beckett's half inning by throwing a clean eight-pitch inning against the middle of the Red Sox order. The good news? Kevin Youkilis actually had pretty decent contact on his ground ball out.
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, Mid 5th -- There's not much Josh Beckett can do to alleviate the panic that is currently seizing Red Sox Nation, but he did the best he could, throwing just seven pitches to record three outs and send the Sox back to the plate.
Rays 1, Red Sox 4, End 4th -- The Red Sox have added a run, but at a high price, as the inning ended with Jacoby Ellsbury down at second base clutching his right shoulder.
The damage was done when Ellsbury attempted to break up a double play that his stolen base attempt likely caused. After Ellsbury had singled in Kelly Shoppach, on base via a leadoff double off of Burke Badenhop (David Price is done for the day), Dustin Pedroia knocked a ground ball up the middle, where Reid Brignac was covering the base as Ellsbury attempted to swipe second. Brignac's throw to first was in time for the second out, but as he went to the ground he seemed to come down on Jacoby Ellsbury's right shoulder. Now the center fielder is out of the game.
Rays 1, Red Sox 3, Mid 4th -- It wasn't the cleanest inning of all time for Josh Beckett, but the Sox leave it with their lead intact all the same.
Cody Ross is partially to thank for that, trying to make up for his inning-ending double play by making a diving grab in right field to rob Matt Joyce of a leadoff single. Ben Zobrist would reach base with a walk, but with neither Jeff Keppinger or Stephen Vogt capable of reaching base, Beckett escaped none the worse for wear.
Rays 1, Red Sox 3, End 3rd -- It's been a tough day for David Price, and the third inning has proved the hardest, as the Red Sox find themselves in the lead after the top of the order went to work against the young lefty phenom.
Kelly Shoppach led the inning off by doing what he does best: getting plunked. He has now been hit three times on the season in limited appearances. Jacoby Ellsbury followed up by reaching out and blooping a double to left, and Dustin Pedroia drew a walk to load the bases with no outs.
Price seemed to find his stuff with Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, and after a couple bad swings it looked like he might be ready to start another masterful escape. But with the count at 1-2 Gonzalez managed to muscle a ground ball through the infield and the Sox had tied the game. Kevin Youkilis would bring another run in on a sacrifice fly.
Then came the small miracle. Falling behind 1-2 like Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz tried to hold up on a 97 MPH fastball, but couldn't get the bat back in time, dropping an excuse me swinging bunt down the third base line. But of course, with Ortiz at the plate, that side of the infield was vacated, giving Ortiz an RBI infield single to make it 3-1. Darnell McDonald kept the inning going with a walk to load the bases, but Cody Ross couldn't pull through, grounding into a double play after getting ahead in the count 3-0.
It could have been a bigger inning for the Red Sox, but for now, they'll take what they can get.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- The third inning was what the second inning should have been, with Beckett inducing poor contact from the top of the Rays' order, and the defense actually making the outs they're supposed to behind him. Good stuff from the man who couldn't keep the ball in the park in his first outing.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 2nd -- If the bottom of the lineup--the "lefty mashers"--want to keep that designation, they're going to have to start doing something sometime soon. After Kevin Youkilis blooped one to center field and David Ortiz walked to start the inning, Darnell McDonald struck out on three pitches, Cody Ross on four, and Mike Aviles reached way out to send a weak grounder to second to end the inning.
To be fair, David Price pitched masterfully to McDonald and Ross, but it's still just ridiculous how inept they've been so far this year.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- The second inning was better pitched by Beckett, but worse played by the Red Sox. It's starting to be a liability to be a ground ball pitcher on this team, at least against righties. A leadoff single up the middle off the bat of Ben Zobrist was a decent piece of hitting, but when Jeff Keppinger followed it up with a ground ball just to Kevin Youkilis' right. It should have stayed in the infield, if not gone for an out, but instead it skipped right past the aging third baseman into left field for an RBI double.
Rays 0, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- Well, it's another 1-2-3 inning for the Boston offense, but at least this time they look a bit like the Red Sox. That's because, for perhaps the first time this year, the Sox made a pitcher work for his outs.
Jacoby Ellsbury's at-bat was the shortest, with Price needing five pitches to induce a 2-2 groundout. Dustin Pedroia would hang on for eight, battling with a full count before flying out to left. Adrian Gonzalez would get ahead in the count 3-1 before swinging through two straight 97 MPH fastballs, leaving Price with 19 pitches on his arm despite a clean inning.
Rays 0, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- It was a scary start to the inning, but Josh Beckett is through one inning of scoreless baseball in Fenway Park.
The first two batters, Desmond Jennings and Carlos Pena, had some strong contact off of Beckett. Jennings led the game off with a line drive rocket to left off a 1-1 fastball that stayed over the plate, but Darnell McDonald was able to track back on for the out. McDonald could not, however, climb the wall when on a 3-1 pitch Pena clubbed a double off the top of the scoreboard.
From there, however, Beckett seemed to settle down. Evan Longoria lifted a routine fly ball to left, and mixing some nasty pitches in to Matt Joyce, Beckett made sure the Tampa Bay left fielder followed suit.