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The Red Sox could not pick up their second straight sweep Sunday afternoon, falling to a dominant Gavin Floyd 4-1 as they saw their six-game winning streak snapped.
Getting the start for the Red Sox, Josh Beckett began the game in poor form. Relying almost exclusively on his fastball, Beckett saw the White Sox jump on him for three runs, with Adam Dunn capping the inning off with a two-run shot very deep to right.
Beckett would recover, however, as he began to incorporate his changeup and, more importantly, curveball. Picking up eight strikeouts along the way, Beckett finished 6.2 innings before being removed from the game, only getting into trouble in the third and, when Bobby Valentine left him in for far too long, again in the seventh.
Gavin Floyd blew right through the first inning, on the other hand, 1-2-3. He did the same in the second, and the third, and the fourth, only surrendering his first baserunner on a walk in the fifth, and then his first hit to Dustin Pedroia in the seventh. The Sox would manage to score Pedroia on a ground ball single from Cody Ross.
Unfortunately, that would be all the Sox would manage. Addison Reed managed to end the seventh without further damage, brought the White Sox two outs into the eight, and then handed the ball off to Joe Thornton for the save.
A Bad Day For Gonzalez: After pushing across the only run of the game on Saturday, Adrian Gonzalez was completely absent today, striking out on a number of ugly swings throughout the game. Of course, Gonzo wasn't completely spectacular last April either, so it could just be another slow start before a hot finish.
Josh Beckett Survives: If Beckett hadn't been so fastball-heavy in the first, this may have been a very different game. Even with the bad first weighing him down, however, Beckett managed to recover for a strong start, keeping his status as the rotation's anchor intact for another turn through the starting five.
All Eyes On Clay: Having fallen back beneath .500 after finally recovering from their 4-10 start, the Sox now turn to Clay Buchholz to salvage an even April. Unfortunately for the Sox, Clay hasn't exactly been good about keeping runs off the board of late. If they're to get back to even, then they'll need a rebound from Buchholz against the no-offense Athletics.
The Red Sox and White Sox are ready to finish up their series, with Josh Beckett taking on Gavin Floyd as Boston goes for the sweep.
Kevin Youkilis and Paul Konerko were both late scratches, Konerko with a stiff neck, and Youkilis with a stiff back. The Sox will have to survive with Nick Punto batting seventh for the day.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in U.S. Cellular Field.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 4, Final -- The Sox have the best part of the order up, but Pedroia, Gonzalez, and Ortiz go down 1-2-3 to end the game and Boston's winning streak.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 4, End 8th -- A beginning of rust and misfortune for Rich Hill, who walks two and has a dribbler that stays on the infield grass go for a single. A double play ball from A.J. Pierzynski gets him a pair of outs, but Junichi Tazawa gives up a flare of a single to Danny Viciedo, and the White Sox get a helpful insurance run.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 3, Mid 8th -- Three pinch hitters--Lars Anderson for Marlon Byrd, Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Kelly Shoppach, and Darnell McDonald for Ryan Sweeney--record three outs as Bobby Valentine tries to play platoon splits. Mike Aviles is stranded at first, leaving the Sox with just three outs to keep their winning streak alive.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 3, End 7th -- Bobby Valentine is pretty clearly trying to ruin his starters, letting Beckett stay on the mound after a single and a walk with over 110 pitches on his arm. Brent Lillibridge manages to work an 11-pitch at bat, leaving Beckett with a ridiculous count of 126 before he's pulled for Scott Atchison.
Valentine is lucky that Atchison managed to strand all three baserunners with a fly ball, but a dumb move is a dumb move, and it's hardly his first.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 3, Mid 7th -- The no-hitter is over, as are the shutout and Gavin Floyd's day.
Dustin Pedroia did the honors of ending the no-no, getting ahead in the count 2-1 and squaring up a fastball for a solidly hit ground ball up the middle. Floyd would battle back, striking out Adrian Gonzalez and making the big-hitting first baseman look frankly a little foolish swinging at a pitch over the opposite batter's box, but he could not get David Ortiz, surrendering a line drive that hugged the line in right for a double.
While Pedroia could not score on Ortiz' single, Floyd would quickly find himself with a third hit to his name, as Cody Ross placed a perfect ground ball through the left side of the infield for an RBI single. Addison Reed would come in to finish things off, getting Nick Punto to ground out to end the inning.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, End 6th -- While Gavin Floyd has been the obvious star of the day so far, Josh Beckett hasn't been too bad himself since the first. PIcking up his eighth strikeout of the day on Adam Dunn, Beckett is now back in quality start territory--something which seemed very unlikely to happen after the first.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, Mid 6th -- Floyd goes right back to being perfect, despite getting behind all three batters. He's through six now without a hit.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, End 5th -- Another strong inning for Josh Beckett, who gets both Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios on strikes in a 1-2-3 frame. Beckett's kept his pitch count down since the first as well, and should have enough gas left to go past the sixth barring a tough inning.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, Mid 5th -- Floyd's perfection comes to an end with a 2-out walk of Cody Ross, but the Sox remain both hitless and runless.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, End 4th -- One cannot help but wonder if this game would be going differently had Beckett been mixing all his pitches from the beginning, rather than sitting exclusively on the fastball. Despite allowing a two-out single, Beckett escapes the fourth unharmed, striking out both Fukudome and Escobar in the process.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, Mid 4th -- The White Sox are almost halfway to their second perfect game in the week, as Gavin Floyd continues to hit his spots and get Red Sox batters out. Dustin Pedroia goes lunging at a 1-2 curveball well outside for strike three, and Floyd makes it twelve straight retired to start the game.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, End 3rd -- Josh Beckett avoids any more damage in the third, but the confidence inspired by the second is gone. After striking out Alejandro De Aza to start the inning, Beckett allowed a line drive single to Brent Lillibridge, and nearly had Alex Rios make it 5-0 with a very loud fly ball to left that likely stayed in the park only due to the weather. A walk to Adam Dunn put two on with two out, but Cody Ross was able to track down A.J. Pierzynski's soft flare to left for the third out.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, Mid 3rd -- That's nine up, nine down for the Red Sox lineup against Gavin Floyd. These three, however, are not the most surprising of outs. Nick Punto, Kelly Shoppach, and Marlon Byrd do not a strong end of the lineup make.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, End 2nd -- After getting beaten up with his fastball in the first, Josh Beckett falls back on his secondary pitches and records a 1-2-3 innings with the outs coming on two curveballs and a changeup.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, Mid 2nd -- Floyd is doing a bang-up job of following Jake Peavy so far, flashing an impressive curveball for strikeouts against Adrian Gonzalez (swinging through one that dived out of the zone) and Cody Ross (looking as it dropped down into the zone for strike three). David Ortiz did hit one a long way to right-center, but he got under it just a little too much, keeping it in the yard for the out.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 3, End 1st -- So much for Josh Beckett being the rock. After three straight quality starts, Josh Beckett is going to be hard pressed to make it four today. The White Sox jumped all over Beckett in the first, scoring three runs to put the Sox in a sizable early hole. Getting ahead of Alejandro De Aza 0-2, Beckett failed to put him away, and had a 2-2 fastball dug out for a ringing single to right. A sacrifice bunt put a runner in scoring position for Alex Rios, who made good by shooting a ground ball through the left side for the RBI.
The real damage, however, would come from Adam Dunn. Falling behind the powerful first baseman 2-0 and then 3-1, Beckett left a fastball up and over the plate--an all-too-tempting target for Dunn, who knocked it a mile to right for a two-run shot.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Gavin Floyd was tossed around as a possible trade target over the offseason, and the first inning gave a decent idea of why the Sox may have wanted him. Using his standard fastball to get ahead in the count against Mike Aviles, Ryan Sweeney, and Dustin Pedroia, Floyd's cutter and curveball served to finish the job with two flyouts and a strikeout of Sweeney.
The Red Sox will go for the sweep in Chicago Sunday afternoon, sending Josh Beckett to the mound to take on Gavin Floyd and the White Sox. First pitch is at 2:10 p.m. EST, with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
After a bad first outing against the Tigers, Josh Beckett has been something of a rock for the Red Sox rotation. Three straight quality starts allowing just six total runs in 21 innings, Beckett has given the Sox a chance each of the last few times he's taken the mound, which is something that can't be said for the other two members of the rotation's top-3.
The same is not exactly true of Gavin Floyd, who has been more on-and-off than rock steady. A good outing against the Oakland Athletics has him on the right track again, but the Red Sox should likely present a rather more significant challenge than Oakland.
Boston Red Sox (10-10)
Chicago White Sox (10-11)
The Red Sox have reached .500 on the season after shutting out the White Sox 1-0 behind a dominant Jon Lester.
The first inning did not promise great things for the Red Sox' southpaw, as he was forced to throw 30 pitches and seemed on the verge of falling apart before stranding two baserunners with an Alex Rios fly ball.
From there, however, Lester was dominant. Retiring the next seven batters he faced, and 14-of-16, Lester recorded one out in the seventh without any significant trouble. That's when things got difficult, and not through much fault of Lester's own.
Two infield singles put a runner in scoring position with Lester's pitch count up around 120 and two outs to go. Lester would manage to get a ground ball from Brent Morel, and while the double play was broken up at second, Gordon Beckham was obliging enough to provide another ground ball for the third out. Lester would end the night with seven innings of shutout baseball on five hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts--a much-needed tremendous outing for the ace.
Jake Peavy, meanwhile, was matching Lester pitch for pitch, looking every bit the ace he had been at San Diego. While Lester was able to dodge damage throughout, however, Peavy was just unlucky enough to have events conspire in the fourth inning to cost him a run. Ryan Sweeney led things off with a pop-up, but had it placed perfectly, running into second as the ball fell into right field for a double.
Had Peavy pitched the rest of the inning like he pitched the rest of the game, however, he would have likely been able to avoid damage. But as it would happen, he would run into Adrian Gonzalez, and leave a fastball up in the zone for him. With a nearly shoulder-high swing, Gonzalez was able to hit a hard ground ball back up the middle for the RBI single.
While one-run leads have been a challenge to keep for the Red Sox' pen, they managed to do the job tonight. Franklin Morales recorded the first two outs of the eighth, and while the next two batters would reach against him and his replacement Vicente Padilla, the latter would manage to get the third out, setting up Alfredo Aceves for a clean, game-ending ninth.
.500: After a start of 1-5 and later 4-10, the Red Sox have now come all the way back to even their record out at 10-10. This comes 20 games earlier than last year's team, which only managed to pull to .500 at 20-20. Ther's still a lot of season to go, but for the next 20 games, any wins they can grab over .500 are just upside.
Farewell, April: Jon Lester's slow starts are almost the thing of legend at this point, and on a cold, windy April night in Chicago it could well have been more of the same for the Sox' lefty ace. In fact, after the first three outs, Sox fans could not have been expecting much at all. But with his last start of the month, Lester turned in a masterpiece, allowing the White Sox next to nothing. With Lester often one of the best in the game in the warmer months, the Sox have plenty of reason to expect the upward trend to continue.
Shutout: It's the first of the season for the Red Sox, who didn't seem likely to pull one off all year without a complete game from Beckett or Lester a few weeks ago. The pen is still scary to watch, but at least now it's becoming even just possible to win these close games with a couple of innings from the relievers. A step up.
The Red Sox are aiming for .500 tonight as they face off against the Chicago White Sox and Jake Peavy. Jon Lester will get the start on the mound, hoping for an improvement over his recent outings against the Twins and Rangers.
We'll keep you up-to-date with all the action as it goes down in U.S. Cellular Field.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, Final -- It takes plenty of pitches, but Alfredo Aceves sits them down 1-2-3 and the Red Sox win!
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, Mid 9th -- No more runs. Three outs to go. Alfredo Aceves in.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, End 8th -- Franklin Morales gets the first two outs, gives up a baserunner, and is pulled for Vicente Padilla, who walks Paul Konerko before getting the crucial out off of an Alex Rios ground ball. The Sox are into the ninth now, and would very much like an insurance run.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, Mid 8th -- If the Red Sox are going to win this game, they're going to need their bullpen to be perfect. Not an ideal scenario by any means, but with Peavy still dealing through a 1-2-3 8th, it's hard to see any other way for this one to go in the win column.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, End 7th -- Jon Lester keeps the Red Sox on top with the tensest of seventh innings. After getting Alex Rios on strikes for the first out, Lester saw a very weak dribbler go for a single as Kevin Youkilis waited in hopes that it would go foul past third. The runner would move to second when Mike Aviles, making a great ranging play just to keep the ball in the infield, had his flip to second go up and over Dustin Pedroia's head, leaving runners on first and second. A ground ball looked like it could be the end of the inning, but the double play was broken up successfully by Tyler Flowers, who forced a late throw to first. With Lester's pitch count growing over 120, Gordon Beckham put on a very impressive at bat, but grounded out on the tenth pitch to end the inning
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, Mid 7th -- Jake Peavy is matching Lester pitch-for-pitch right about now, ending the seventh--another 1-2-3 inning--with under 100 pitches.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, End 6th -- Talk about a turnaround. After the first inning promised more bad news for Jon Lester, the Sox' lefty ace has been just tearing through the White Sox' lineup. A pop-up, ground out, and his sixth strike out of the night have Jon Lester through the sixth with a shutout intact.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, Mid 6th -- A promising start to the inning, as Ryan Sweeney singles, but three straight outs from the 3-4-5 leave the Red Sox still stuck at just the one run.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, End 5th -- A single off the bat of Brent Morel gives the White Sox another baserunner, but three weak outs--two on the ground and one on a pop-up--leaves them still scoreless through five against Lester.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, Mid 5th -- Once again Marlon Byrd manages to reach base against Jake Peavy, but once again it comes with two outs, and Mike Aviles can't keep the inning going.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, End 4th -- Paul Konerko gets to Lester for a double, as Marlon Byrd's diving attempt in center goes for naught, but strikeouts to Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo keeps Lester rolling through another scoreless inning.
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0, Mid 4th -- The Red Sox scored! The Red Sox scored! Despite getting underneath a 2-2 fastball, Ryan Sweeney's pop fly managed to find grass in right field for a double. Dustin Pedroia for some reason set up to bunt, but ended up working a long at bat before unfortunately lining out directly to third. Adrian Gonzalez, however, would prove up to the task, hitting a ground ball into right field for the RBI single.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, End 3rd -- Another 1-2-3 frame for Jon Lester, with all three outs coming on the ground
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- The Red Sox get their first baserunner of the day in Marlon Byrd, but it comes with two outs, and a strikeout of Mike Aviles is enough to make it an even three. It's going to be hard to get to Peavy the way he's throwing tonight.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, End 2nd -- Jon Lester settles down nicely, striking out two batters in the process of a 1-2-3 inning.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- Jake Peavy looks very much on his game to night, sitting down the Red Sox in order with a first-pitch fly out for Adrian Gonzalez, a strike out of David Ortiz, and a pop-up from Kevin Youkilis, who at least managed to work the count full.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, End 1st -- A very difficult first for Jon Lester leaves the Red Sox' starter with over 30 pitches on his arm, but thankfully no runs on the board. After sitting down Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez with a fly out and strike out respectively, Lester fell apart a bit. Walking Adam Dunn on six pitches, Lester was perhaps spared a run when the sluggish DH chose not to round third despite Cody Ross bobbling a double hit by Paul Konerko. Luckily, Dunn would not get a second shot to cross home, as Alex Rios flew out to end the threat.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Jake Peavy gets out of the first inning 1-2-3, though the Sox at least made him work for it some. Mike Aviles got behind 0-2, but fought off a few pitches before grounding out on the sixth. Ryan Sweeney would strike out on five pitches, moving Peavy up to 11 total, and while Dustin Pedroia got some good contact on the fourth pitch of his at bat, he ended up hitting it right at the right fielder for the out.
The Red Sox will take on the White Sox Saturday night as they aim for six straight wins and a .500 record on the season. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
Last year, the Sox did not arrive at .500 until the game 40, losing games at 10-11, 14-15, and 17-18 before finally pulling it off with a three-game sweep of the Yankees on May 15. This year, Boston is hopeful that said landmark won't prove quite so difficult a hump to overcome.
If they want to make it today, however, they'll need a better start from Jon Lester than he's been capable of providing so far this year. Last time out against the Twins, Lester surrendered five runs in seven ugly innings of work, although the Sox were able to support him with just enough offense to escape the loss.
For that to work out this time, however, the lineup will need to get to Jake Peavy, which has been no easy task so far this year.
Boston Red Sox (9-10)
Chicago White Sox (10-10)
The Red Sox are officially on a roll, blasting John Danks for seven runs to back up an impressive display from Daniel Bard en route to a 10-3 win over the White Sox.
The Sox found themselves behind early for a change as a shaky Daniel Bard allowed a run to cross home in the bottom of the first. That would quickly change in the second, however, when David Ortiz went very deep to right field with Kevin Youkilis on base to put them ahead 2-1.
Chicago tied things up in the bottom of the third as a series of errors and misplays allowed the White Sox to score a second time, and then in the fifth Paul Konerko made Bard pay for a fat fastball with a solo shot, leaving Boston in a 3-2 hole.
The lead would last for not even half an inning, however. Jumping all over a struggling Danks in the top of the sixth, the Sox loaded the bases, scored once on a Cody Ross single, three more times on a Darnell McDonald double that cleared the bases, and then a final time on a single off the bat of Marlon Byrd.
Daniel Bard, meanwhile, had settled down very nicely. Working quickly through the late innings, Bard was able to complete seven frames of work with three runs (two earned), striking out six batters and walking just one in the process. Matt Albers came on to complete the game as the Sox added a few more on four seventh inning singles, and a solo shot in the ninth from Darnell McDonald.
Butterfingers Shoppach: During one of Kelly Shoppach's earlier at bats, Bobby Valentine came on the field to hand him a new bat for no apparent reason. Accepting the new lumber, Shoppach proceeded to strike out and send his bat flying into left field as he lost hold of it on the final swing. Once in each of his next two at bats Shoppach would again lose control of his bat, tossing it remarkably far--once into left field past the third base bag, and another time into the seats where, thankfully, nobody was hurt.
What did Bobby do to that bat?
Daniel Bard Triumphant: Any thoughts of moving Daniel Bard back to the bullpen must be slipping away by this point. Controlling both his fastball and slider, Bard had an exceptional night of work on the mound, only really struggling in the first. Ending the day with 98 pitches, had the game been in more dire straights he could very well have had an eighth under his belt had he been so inclined.
David Ortiz Keeps Rolling: Going deep in the second, narrowly missing a second bomb as the wind knocked it down on the way to the wall in center, and adding a single besides, David Ortiz is on an unbelievable roll to start the season. Gone are the early April struggles, and hopefully here to stay is the old Papi.
Actually, check that. Even in his best years, Ortiz wasn't quite this locked in.
The Red Sox are looking to make it five straight tonight as they face off against John Danks and the Chicago White Sox.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all he action as it goes down at U.S. Cellular Field.
Red Sox 10, White Sox 3, Final -- And the Sox have their fifth straight win, pulling to within a game of .500 at 9-10. Daniel Bard throws seven strong innings, David Ortiz and Darnell McDonald go deep in a 10-run attack.
Red Sox 10, White Sox 3, Mid 9th -- Darnell McDonald makes it double digits again for the Red Sox, getting all of a Dylan Axelrod fastball and sending it over the wall in dead center. After a Marlon Byrd single, Mike Aviles came very close to making it 12-3, but had what would have been a guaranteed homer knocked down by the wind before it carried into the left field seats.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, End 8th -- Matt Albers gives the Sox a scare when he allows a long fly ball to Adam Dunn, but Marlon Byrd is able to once again run back far enough to glove the ball for the out. After that, two quick, painless outs take us to the ninth.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, Mid 8th -- Dustin Pedroia singles and Adrian Gonzalez walks, but the Sox can't make it double digits as Kevin Youkilis strikes out and Nick Punto, presumably in to get some work with a big lead, flies out to end the threat.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, End 7th -- The defense is trying to make amends for the third, it seems. After picking up his sixth strikeout on Gordon Beckham, Daniel Bard allowed a long fly ball to Alejandro De Aza (who at one point tried to head to first base on ball three), but had Marlon Byrd backpedal onto the track to make the grab. One pitch later, and it was Adrian Gonzalez gloving a line drive off the bat of Alexei Ramirez to end Daniel Bard's night on a good note.
That's seven innings, two earned runs, one walk, and six strikeouts for Daniel Bard. Quite the outing in his first season as a starter--a conversion that is starting to look very smart.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, Mid 7th -- The Sox open their lead up even further on a succession of singles. The first two came from Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, putting runners at first and second with one out for David Ortiz after a Kevin Youkilis strike out. Ortiz nearly scored three at once with a very well-hit ball, but with the cold weather and the wind blowing in it died short of the wall.
Cody Ross would be the one to push the first run across, lining to left (where else?) to score Pedroia from second. Up came Kelly Shoppach, probably just hoping not to lose the bat again, but this time actually managing to single into center field for another RBI.
Red Sox 7, White Sox 3, End 6th -- A long delay just makes Bard stronger. Dustin Pedroia handled the first two outs, making a tremendous diving stop and throwing from his knees as he fell backwards to get Danny Viciedo at first. With Brent Morel popping out on the first pitch, it was an easy 5-pitch inning for Boston's starter.
Red Sox 7, White Sox 3, Mid 6th -- Yeah, so much for that pitcher's duel. Admittedly getting squeezed in the strike zone, John Danks fell apart in the sixth inning. Walks to Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis gave the Sox a pair of baserunners with one out, and a David Ortiz single loaded the bases. Cody Ross would tie the game by dropping a line drive into left field, but Kelly Shoppach once again had the bat fly far from his hands in the process of striking out, leaving Darnell McDonald at the plate in a big situation.
Thankfully, the outfielder proved more than up to the task, taking a first pitch fastball into left field for a double that cleared the bases. Now up 6-3, the Sox added another run when Marlon Byrd flared one over a leaping Alexei Ramirez at shortstop, chasing Danks from the game.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 3, End 5th -- Alright, so I shouldn't have said anything. After sitting down six straight, Daniel Bard leaves a pitch over the plate to Paul Konerko, who is all-too-happy to lose it into the left field stands.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 2, Mid 5th -- Amazingly, the Red Sox seem to be locked in something of a pitchers' duel right now. This would make the second such matchup for Daniel Bard, the team's oft-questioned fifth starter. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 2, End 4th -- A very nice and compact fourth inning for Daniel Bard, as the defense recovers from the pathetic showing in the fourth with Darnell McDonald even making a nice grab on a fly ball for the first out.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 2, Mid 4th -- An unremarkable 1-2-3 top of the fourth becomes just plain weird as Bobby Valentine brings Kelly Shoppach a new bat as he stands at the plate. Shoppach quickly strikes out with the replacement bat, which goes flying well into left field. What'd Bobby do? Grease the thing?
Red Sox 2, White Sox 2, End 3rd -- Ladies and gentlemen, the Bad News Bears have arrived.
A series of fielding mishaps leaves the Sox stuck in a tie game after the third. An errant throw from Kevin Youkilis gave the White Sox a leadoff baserunner who then moved to center as Marlon Byrd mysteriously pulled up to watch Darnell McDonald make a last-ditch effort on a bloop fly ball that really should have been the center fielder's.
After a ground ball got the Red Sox their second out on a ground ball which moved Alexei Ramirez to third, Chicago would tie the game when Kelly Shoppach had a high pitch pop out of his glove and behind him. Unable to find the ball, the Sox could only watch as Ramirez scored. A ground ball off of Daniel Bard's hand would continue the inning and put some fear in the dugout, and another bloop to left-center threatened to give the White Sox an almost undeserved lead, but Mike Aviles made a running over-the-shoulder basket catch to mercifully bring the frame to an end.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 1, Mid 3rd -- The Red Sox get a great scoring opportunity in the third, but can't push anything across. Mike Aviles singled and Dustin Pedroia walked to put a runner in scoring position for Adrian Gonzalez, who hit a ball hard to center, but sadly directly to Alejandro De Aza, who made the grab for the out. Kevin Youkilis, the final hope in the inning, could do nothing, striking out on three pitches to end the threat.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 1, End 2nd -- A better second inning for Daniel Bard despite giving up a one-out single as he struggled to find the inside of the plate against Brent Morel. The same difficulties would cost him a 3-0 count against Gordon Beckham, but Bard battled back to strike him out as Morel stole second behind him. The steal would not prove costly, however, with Bard getting ahead of Alejandro De Aza 0-2 and then freezing him with a slider for the called strike three.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 1, Mid 2nd -- David Ortiz does not simply hit homers this year. David Ortiz is a serial baseball murderer. The sound of the ball, the speed off the bat, and the distance of the eventual homer on a chilly 45 degree night when John Danks left a changeup in his wheelhouse? Simply unreal. With Youkilis on base by virtue of a walk, it's a 2-1 Sox lead now.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 1, End 1st -- And for the first time in a fair while, the Sox are down early. Alejandro De Aza knocked a double into center field to start Daniel Bard's night off on the wrong foot, and a walk to Adam Dunn put two men on with just one out. Bard managed to get Paul Konerko swinging at a slider for the strikeout, but before he could end the inning A.J. Pierzynski cued an outside changeup just inside the line in left for an RBI double.
Red Sox 0, White Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Compared to what we've become used to over the past few days, the Sox are off to a slow start. A pop-up, fly ball, and ground ball leave Mike Aviles, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez 0-for-3 while Danks needs just 13 pitches to end the first.
The Red Sox will stack their lineup full of right-handed hitters as they take on the Chicago White Sox and southpaw starter John Danks Friday night in Chicago. First pitch is at 8:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
The Sox' lineup has been on an absolute tear of late, destroying opposing starters with some regularity. While the Sox will have to switch gears tonight, throwing the likes of Kelly Shoppach and Darnell McDonald into the order to face Danks, their lefty mashers have been no slouches so far this year either.
The question will be whether or not Daniel Bard can maintain the momentum he had from his last start way back against the Rays after having his spot in the rotation skipped. Bard has so far silenced the doubters as a starter for the most part, but with tons of noise being made about the bullpen, another strong outing would go a long way towards securing his place.
Boston Red Sox (8-10)
Chicago White Sox (10-9)
Kevin Youkilis hit a grand slam and Jarrod Saltalamacchia went deep twice as the Sox hammered Phil Humber in a 10-3 win over the White Sox.
Making his first start since pitching a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners, Phil Humber wasn't able to cool down the torrid offense the Sox have featured over the past few games. Walking Mike Aviles right out of the gates, Humber would surrender an infield single to Dustin Pedroia, a double to Adrian Gonzalez, and then a base hit to David Ortiz to let two come across in the first.
The White Sox got one back off of a wild Felix Doubront in the bottom half of the inning, but a wild third would blow the game wide open. After allowing Ryan Sweeney his tenth double of the year, Humber walked the bases loaded, and then let a fastball tail back over the plate against Kevin Youkilis, who sent it over the wall in right field for a grand slam. On a hanging curveball, Jarrod Saltalamacchia made it back-to-back homers, leaving Boston up 7-1.
Chicago would get a run back in each of the next two innings as Doubront struggled to find his bearings on the inside part of the plate, but the Red Sox' starter managed to settle down and escape any more trouble through the end of the sixth. From there, Junichi Tazawa took over, throwing 51 pitches in recording an old fashioned three-inning save.
Vindication: Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia suffered through some serious difficulties early in the season, so it was very good to see them take up almost the entire offensive burden on the night. There's still a ways to go for each to erase their troubled start (though, actually, Saltalamacchia already looks like his old self with a bit more power--too bad that means a .280 OBP), but for now it's a good beginning.
Not His Best: Felix Doubront was not at his best tonight. While he was still able to miss some bats, he struggled to put batters away, found his pitch count high early on, gave up too many free bases, and found himself in trouble early and often. The good news is that, like Daniel Bard against Tampa Bay, he was able to contain things even without his best stuff. Add that to his more impressive games earlier in the year, and things are looking up for Mr. Doubront.
Tazawa Impresses: To a starving man, even food taken from the garbage might look good. But there was no mistaking that tonight Junichi Tazawa looked like a legitimate option from the bullpen. Utilizing strong secondary offerings, Tazawa controlled the strike zone, and was able to get swings-and-misses when he chose to go outside of it. With the likes of Matt Albers and Justin Thomas getting so many innings, it's high time Tazawa got his chance in some close games.
The Red Sox and White Sox are underway in Chicago as Boston looks to maintain the momentum they gained from their sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
The Sox will have to deal with rather tougher pitching than they encountered in Minnesota, but if the offense can stay alive, then hopefully the weaknesses of the bullpen and early-year rotation can be overcome.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it happens at U.S. Cellular Field.
Red Sox 10, White Sox 3, Final -- Junichi Tazawa closes the game out in style, striking out both Adam Dunn and Brent Lillibridge with some deceptive off-speed pitches to end the game. A convincing outing from the young Japanese import, who could really bring some serious help to the pen.
Red Sox 10, White Sox 3, Mid 9th -- The Sox get back into double digits as Mike Aviles launches a double all the way to the wall in left-center. With Ryan Sweeney finding the hole between second and third with a ground ball, and the throw to the plate getting away from Pierzynski, Boston had its tenth run of the night.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, End 8th -- An error from Kevin Youkilis puts one man on from the beginning of the inning, and Tazawa hits Gordon Beckham in a bad place to put runners on first and second, but Tazawa still avoids damage, striking out Dayon Viciedo in the process. Three outs to go for a 4-game winning streak.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, Mid 8th -- Kevin Youkilis responds with an infield single of his own, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia fails to go deep for a third time on the night, instead grounding into a double play to stop any thoughts of a sustained attack in their tracks.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, End 7th -- Junichi Tazawa enters the game and, despite giving up a pair of hits, shows some good stuff that might interest the Red Sox in future moments that have been entrusted to the likes of, say, Justin Thomas.
Sitting in the low 90s with his fastball, with good movement on both his curve and change, Tazawa managed to strike out Alejandro De Aza with a curveball that dropped nicely into the zone for strike three. Alexei Ramirez got some decent contact, but hit it directly to Kevin Youkilis, who snagged the ball for the out. Adam Dunn broke up the streak with an infield single that a shifted Mike Aviles did a good job just to get to, and Paul Konerko jumped on the first pitch he saw for a single, but throwing almost exclusively changeups to A.J. Pierzynski, Tazawa was able to record the third out without any real damage.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, Mid 7th -- Another quiet inning for the Boston offense, which has made a habit of quieting down after some ridiculous early starts.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, End 6th -- Felix Doubront reaches 100 pitches and gives up a 1-out single to Dayan Viciedo, who earlier took him deep, but manages to get out of the inning without any more trouble. It seems like Felix has dodged the bullet tonight, and will end his day with another solid outing, still the most consistent starter on the team.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, Mid 6th -- Will Ohman enters the game for the beleaguered Phil Humber and immediately gives up a base hit to Marlon Byrd. A quick double play ball off the bat of Mike Aviles ends the threat, however, and Ohman faces just three batters in the inning.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, End 5th -- A much-needed short inning for Felix Doubront, who retires the side on just 8 pitches. He'll likely be back out for the sixth to try and keep the bullpen at bay for as long as possible.
Red Sox 9, White Sox 3, Mid 5th -- Saltasaurus strikes again! This time going to the opposite field, Jarrod Saltalamacchia brings two more runs in for the Sox by lifting a fly ball into the stands in left-center for bomb number two.
Red Sox 7, White Sox 3, End 4th -- A leadoff homer for Dayan Viciedo brings the White Sox closer in the fourth. You can just feel this game slipping away from Felix Doubront now. He's unable to bring the ball in against lefties, and while he's still got the swing-and-miss stuff, it's not consistent tonight.
Red Sox 7, White Sox 2, Mid 4th -- Some solid contact for Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia, but they both hit it right at someone, and Humber has an easy fourth.
Red Sox 7, White Sox 2, End 3rd -- More struggles for Doubront who, like Buchholz last night, seems to be hanging on by a thread. Again losing control, this time with one out, Doubront walked Alexei Ramirez and then hit Adam Dunn in the thigh to put men on first and second. A fly ball to Ryan Sweeney stayed in the park, leaving the White Sox with just one out to do some damage, but A.J. Pierzynski managed to single through the infield into left for the RBI before the inning ended.
Hopefully Doubront either has the lasting power to keep the White Sox from putting up some big numbers, or will run his pitch count high enough that he'll be out before they really get to him.
Red Sox 7, White Sox 1, Mid 3rd -- The bottom of the lineup was kind to Humber in the 2nd. The top was very, very cruel in the third. Ryan Sweeney started the attack with his tenth double of the year on a line drive to right that hopped up and into the seats. Humber would get lucky when Dustin Pedroia's line drive found Alexei Ramirez' glove at short, but then lost control, walking Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz to get to Kevin Youkilis.
It's been a tough season for Kevin Youkilis so far, to be sure, but ever since the 0-for-12 start things have been getting better, and tonight, they got a lot better. Trying to go away from Youkilis, Humber had a fastball tail back over the plate, belt-high. In other words, perfect. Youkilis got all of it, hitting it to the opposite field. As Hawk Harrelson might say, "you can put it on the board!"
The grand slam made it 6-1, and just three pitches later, Jarrod Saltalamacchia made it 7-1 on a hanging curveball. With seven runs in just three innings, Humber is about as far from perfect as a pitcher can possibly be today.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 1, End 2nd -- If there's one thing that Felix Doubront is not, it's efficient. Even with some fine defensive help from Mike Aviles, who made a running grab on a pop-up well into the outfield, and Ryan Sweeney, who went into a dive to come up with a sinking liner to right, the lefty's 1-2-3 inning cost him another 16 pitches.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 1, Mid 2nd -- Facing the weaker part of the Red Sox' lineup, Phil Humber settled down for a 1-2-3 inning that had a few balls cued into the outfield on a line, but resulted in no trouble at all.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 1, End 1st -- After a quick start saw Felix Doubront retire the first two batters he faced with seven pitches and two ground balls, some two-out wildness cost the starter a run and a lot of wear on his arm.
The trouble began with Adam Dunn. After swinging through two pitches to fall behind 1-2, the patient slugger took the next three pitches for the walk. Taking second on a wild pitch, Dunn would score when Paul Konerko lifted a long fly ball to center field that Marlon Byrd misplayed into a double. While the scoring would stop there, Doubront would surrender another walk and see his pitch count rise to nearly 30 before the inning ended.
If there's one thing the Sox don't want tonight, it's a game with lots of innings from the bullpen.
Red Sox 2, White Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Phil Humber has been far from perfect today. After walking Mike Aviles to start the game, Humber found himself the victim of an infield single from Dustin Pedroia that put runners at the corners with just one out. Adrian Gonzalez went to the opposite field, dropping a double down the left field line to score Aviles, and David Ortiz made it 2-0 with another liner to left.
It's amazing how differently things have gone in the first inning the last few days for the Red Sox. From being completely demolished in it, to now repaying the favor to opposing pitchers, it's a complete 180 which has resulted in three big wins for Boston.
The Red Sox will take on the White Sox in the first of a four-game series Thursday night, sending Felix Doubront to the mound against Chicago's Phil Humber, who's coming fresh off his perfect game against the Seattle Mariners. First pitch is at 8:10 p.m. EST, with broadcasts by NESN, the MLB Network, and WEEI.
More injury concerns for the Red Sox leave Bobby Valentine forced into the unfortunate situation of starting Lars Anderson in left field in place of Cody Ross, who tweaked his knee in Wednesday's game against the Twins. It doesn't appear as though Ross is seriously hurt, but it was enough for the organization to give him a day off with the Sox in the midst of a prolonged stretch of games.
Many will remember Lars Anderson as a former top prospect who seemed the heir apparent at first base a few years back. Things did not go so well for him in his 2009 campaign with the Sea Dogs, however, and while a hot start to 2010 earned him a promotion to Triple-A, he's since struggled to find his old dominance at the plate. In an attempt to earn more playing time and market himself to teams where he might have an opportunity, Lars has added left field to his repertoire in recent years. Hopefully he won't be tested too much tonight.
Boston Red Sox (7-10)
Chicago White Sox (10-8)
The Red Sox are looking to maintain the momentum gained from their sweep of the Twins as they head into Chicago for a series against the White Sox. They'll have their most reliable pitcher of the season in Felix Doubront on the mound for Game 1.
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