The Red Sox and Rangers are just about ready to go in Fenway Park, where Jon Lester will take the mound aiming to turn the strong pitching he's offered to start the year into his first win of the season.
It's going to be a tough one for the Red Sox to be sure. Having just been shut down by an ace in James Shields, the Rangers offer no rest for the weary, bringing Colby Lewis to Fenway looking to do the same.
Given the way this season has gone so far, the Sox have put themselves in a situation where almost every match seems incredibly important, but it really does seem like getting on another losing streak so soon after winning three straight would be a bad move, so winning at least the first game of this series could make the difference in maintaining momentum heading into the series against the Yankees.
We'll keep you up-to-date here as all the action goes down in Fenway.
Rangers 18, Red Sox 3, Final - Over. It's finally over.
Rangers 18, Red Sox 3, Mid 9th - Rather than save Padilla for tomorrow and give Sox fans the unique enjoyment that comes from watching a position player take the mound, Bobby Valentine went to him for the ninth. Padilla then gave up a two-run shot to Mike Napoli.
This is the longest game ever.
Rangers 16, Red Sox 3, End 8th - Hey, Adrian Gonzalez went deep! Everything is better now! Wait, why is Vicente Padilla pitching? Bobby, what is the matter with you?!
Rangers 16, Red Sox 2, Mid 8th - Mark Melancon gave up three homers without an out.
Oh, and then Justin Thomas gave up another homer. And more baserunners. And now the Sox might have to waste Vicente Padilla.
Rangers 8, Red Sox 2, End 7th - More of the same for the Red Sox. 1-2-3, two strikeouts. Just a bad, bad game of baseball they're playing tonight.
Rangers 8, Red Sox 2, Mid 7th - Matt Albers records a 1-2-3 seventh as the Sox just try to fill innings and keep the important part of the pen fresh for Wednesday's game.
Rangers 8, Red Sox 2, End 6th - Ryan Sweeney continues his torrid pace by dropping a double off the bottom of the wall in left, but it's another wasted baserunner for the Red Sox as Cody Ross lines out to Elvis Andrus behind him. A bit of bad luck, but the Sox need more than a two-out rally right now anyways.
Rangers 8, Red Sox 2, Mid 6th - The top of the sixth ends in the blink of an eye, with Atchison needing just five pitches to record three outs. Unfortunately, the one to Michael Young leaves the park, and the Sox are down 8-2.
Rangers 7, Red Sox 2, End 5th - Colby Lewis is just moving through the Sox at this point, retiring the top of the lineup with a mere 12 pitches thanks to a slightly lengthy Adrian Gonzalez at bat.
Rangers 7, Red Sox 2, Mid 5th - Scott Atchison has done some good work just to keep the hole from getting any deeper, working around a Craig Gentry single with some ground ball outs to escape the fifth unharmed. The Sox, unfortunately, show no real sign of fighting back any more, despite their quick start against Colby Lewis.
Rangers 7, Red Sox 2, End 4th - Just when you thought maybe a rally was on, with Cody Ross reaching base and Jason Repko sending a line drive into left field, the Triple-A call-up goes and gets himself thrown out at second. Oh, Repko. Oh, Red Sox.
Rangers 7, Red Sox 2, Mid 4th - Scott Atchison threw a 1-2-3 inning. There were many gasps and expressions of disbelief. Someone may have fainted.
Rangers 7, Red Sox 2, End 3rd - Nothing doing for the Red Sox in the third. Adrian Gonzalez hit a very long out to right, and David Ortiz singled into center, but Kevin Youkilis' day off seems to have cut his revival short, with a swinging strikeout ending the third with the score the same.
Rangers 7, Red Sox 2, Mid 3rd - It gets worse. Jon Lester is now out of the game, having done nothing in the third inning other than load the bases, bringing in Scott Atchison to do his best to get out of it. Kevin Youkilis had a chance to erase a lot of the threat when he got a quick ground ball that should have been two outs, but bungled the scoop and had to dive to third just to record the out there. A sacrifice fly from Elvis Andrus made it 6-2, and Josh Hamilton singled through the infield for another run before Adrian Beltre ended the Sox' misery with a long fly out.
Rangers 4, Red Sox 2, End 2nd - The Sox did not do a great job of picking up their starter after a bad fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia at least gave one a ride to right-center, but it stayed in the park for the out. Jason Repko and Mike Aviles didn't do nearly so much, each striking out to send it to the third.
Rangers 4, Red Sox 2, Mid 2nd - Jon Lester just endured about the ugliest possible four-run inning, and it all started, amazingly, with a strikeout to Michael Young.
After the strikeout, Nelson Cruz went ahead and smashed a double into the triangle, and Mike Napoli cashed in by doing what he does best in Fenway: going very, very deep to tie the game.
Finally up against the weak part of the lineup, Jon Lester completely failed to take advantage, walking Yorvit Torrealba and giving up a hit to Craig Gentry behind him. Ian Kinsler would also walk, loading the bases, and that's when the ridiculous stuff started. Elvis Andrus hit the ball all of about 15 feet, knocking a dribbler down the right field line which Jon Lester scooped up, but could not record an out on. A popup seemed like it would keep another run from scoring, but somehow Cody Ross managed to have the ball bounce off his glove, allowing a fourth run in.
The scoring was over for the inning, but that didn't mean Lester was done just yet, as Adrian Beltre worked a 12-pitch at bat ending in an infield single that Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop on to save a run. Only with Michael Young again at the plate did Lester finally record the third out, with Aviles scooping up a ground ball and firing to first to end the inning.
Rangers 0, Red Sox 2, End 1st - Colby Lewis managed to avoid a complete meltdown in the first, but the Red Sox still struck twice early against the Texas ace.
Mike Aviles got things started on the right note by taking an 86 MPH 2-2 fastball and sending it nearly to the wall in left for a leadoff single. Getting ahead 1-0, Dustin Pedroia took it in the same direction, but a little bit further, and much, much higher, depositing the pitch into the first row of seats on the Monster for a two-run shot.
Adrian Gonzalez would keep the attack rolling, singling sharply through the right side of the infield, but David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis slowed things down with a pair of unproductive outs. Ryan Sweeney just missed making it 4-0 when he planted a ball off the top of the wall in center field, but with Gonzalez running the score stayed the same, and Cody Ross' weak ground ball ended the inning without any further damage.
Rangers 0, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st - Jon Lester is out of some early trouble in the first. After getting ahead of Ian Kinsler 0-2, Lester just missed painting the corner with an excellent cutter, then got taken to right-center field for a single on the 2-2 pitch. He would respond by striking out Elvis Andrus, but had Josh Hamilton move Kinsler to third with a ground ball single to right.
Luckily for Lester, the ground ball that came from the first pitch to old friend Adrian Beltre did not find its way into the outfield, but instead rolled right to Dustin Pedroia, who started the inning-ending double play to help Lester escape damage.