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The Boston Red Sox should be thrilled to get Sweeney back into the fold. The team has been absolutely riddled with injuries especially in the outfield. In fact, seven different outfielders for Boston have made a trip to the DL at one point or another this season.
Sweeney was playing very well before getting injured. The right fielder was hitting .311 and really providing a nice spark while the team was trying to find its way.
Manager Bobby Valentine isn't wasting any time getting Sweeney back into the swing of things, putting him into the lineup today against the Detroit Tigers. However, Sweeney will be in center field, where he has only started six games all year. He'll be batting seventh in the order.
To make room for Sweeney, Che-Hsuan Lin was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
After Sunday's depressing loss, Red Sox Nation returned to an activity which it had avoided for the past month-or-so: complaining about the closer.
There's no doubt that Alfredo Aceves backed into this role, likely receiving the nod after Andrew Bailey's injury as a way to make amends for keeping him out of the rotation. Aceves had never exactly been closer stuff before, after all. His ability was not to pitch one shutout inning, but to throw three without letting the game get away, utilizing ground balls to avoid the big inning.
Jonathan Papelbon he was not.
That being said, however, since he took over the role, Aceves has shown us a different side of himself. Asked to only pitch one or, at the most two innings, Aceves' fastball has been on average two miles per hour faster than last year, at times reaching up to 97. Ever since giving up three runs before recording his first out this year, Aceves has been fantastic, striking out more than a batter an inning and converting 11-of-12 save chances before Sunday.
So what happened against the Rays? Perhaps it's just a matter of Aceves not having pitched in a few days? Or maybe it's just a bad day. The sort that happens to any reliever. While Aceves' season as a whole does look a bit ugly with his 4.76 ERA, he's shown his ability to provide lockdown innings most nights. His two meltdowns are more dramatic than the ones experienced by most closers, with the eight earned runs he allowed against the Tigers and Yankees in two games without recording an out, but as far as his ability to convert saves is concerned, he's given us plenty of reason for optimism ever since that first series of the year.
So let's not go calling for Alfredo Aceves' head just yet. Every loss is more painful than usual these days with the Red Sox, particularly given how they've been dancing around .500, but Alfredo Aceves is responsible for all of two runs in one game--part of a month where his ERA remains a paltry 2.37. He's earned more leeway than this.
The Red Sox have, for the sixth time, entered a game at .500 and left it with a losing record, today as the result of a 4-3 Rays win courtesy of a blown save from Alfredo Aceves.
The game began as an impressive pitchers duel, which is about the last thing you would expect from Clay Buchholz these days. Commanding his curveball and changeup as well as we've seen so far this year, Buchholz allowed only a pair of weak singles in his first three innings of work. Jeremy Hellickson responded by surviving rather harder contact, and also headed into the fourth without a run to his name.
Clay Buchholz finally allowed a big hit in the fourth, as Matt Joyce took him into the right field corner for a double. Unfortunately, with Adrian Gonzalez playing out there, it quickly turned into three bases, as the first baseman out of water missed his cutoff man. The mistake would prove costly, as a ground ball out allowed Joyce to come in the back door, though given the ensuing Luke Scott single it's entirely possible the run would have scored anyways if everything had otherwise gone the same.
The Red Sox would not respond until they were down two in the seventh, but then they did so in a big way. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis led off the inning with a walk and a single, bringing Adrian Gonzalez to the plate. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Gonzalez reached out for a changeup and dropped it into the Monster seats just to the right of the foul pole for a three-run shot that put the Sox up 3-2.
The lead would last for just the one full inning. After Franklin Morales and Vicente Padilla held down the fort with aplomb, striking out two and getting a ground ball in a clean eighth, the Sox turned to Alfredo Aceves, who after three full days off just didn't have it. A leadoff walk brought the winning run to the plate, and after a Luke Scott pop-up, Sean Rodriguez converted it, hitting a home run over everything in left to give the Rays the lead. With the weakest part of the lineup due up, the Sox made no noise in the bottom half, leaving them once again below .500.
|Final - 5.27.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Tampa Bay Rays||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||2||4||9||0|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||3||7||1|
|WP: Jake McGee (2 - 1)
SV: Fernando Rodney (16)
LP: Alfredo Aceves (0 - 2)
Boston and Tampa Bay will wrap up their series with a Sunday afternoon rubber game, with Clay Buchholz and Jeremy Hellickson taking the mound.
The Sox have stacked their lineup as much as possible, with Adrian Gonzalez in right field, Will Middlebrooks at third, and Kevin Youkilis at first. The real spotlight, however, will be on Clay Buchholz, who has had serious difficulty recording outs through the first two months of the season.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway.
Rays 4, Red Sox 3, Final -- 0-0, 10-10, 11-11, 21-21, 22-22, 23-23. They just can't get it done.
Rays 4, Red Sox 3, Mid 9th -- And just like that, the lead is gone. Alfredo Aceves comes out wild, walks Ben Zobrist, falls behind Sean Rodriguez 3-1, and gives up the homer that has the Red Sox looking at a very frustrating loss.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, End 8th -- The Sox waste a valuable chance to add on to their lead in the eight. After Scott Podsednik singled to get the inning started, Mike Aviles bunted him into scoring position to give the heart of the lineup a chance to bring him in. Dustin Pedroia could only move him to third, however, and David Ortiz was intentionally walked to bring Kevin Youkilis to the plate to draw one of the less-intentional variety. In stepped Adrian Gonzalez, who had played the hero just one inning ago, but this time he couldn't come through. A reasonably well-hit ground ball headed past the mound, but the Rays defense was well-positioned to make the out an easy one.
It's all in Alfredo Aceves' hands now.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, Mid 8th -- Bobby Valentine plays the splits, sending Franklin Morales in for Carlos Pena and Vicente Padilla in for B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce, resulting in two strikeouts and a ground ball. All that's left now is for Alfredo Aceves to do his job.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, End 7th -- Adrian Gonzalez could not have chosen a better moment to find his power stroke again. David Ortiz led the inning off by drawing a walk, and Kevin Youkilis jumped on an outside 1-2 fastball to shoot a ground ball up the middle and give Gonzalez a chance with two on and nobody out. Rather than simply continuing the rally, Gonzalez chose to put an exclamation mark on it, taking a Fenway swing on an outside pitch and slicing a high fly ball just to the right of the foul pole and into the Monster seats.
Rays 2, Red Sox 0, Mid 7th -- The Rays pick up what could be a big insurance run as Clay Buchholz gives up a wall ball double, and has Will Rhymes flare a single to left for a two-out RBI before striking out Chris Gimenez to end the inning.
The Sox are down 2-0, and Clay is responsible for both runs, but it's by far the best game he's had this year. Seven innings, six strikeouts, just one walk, and a lot of ground balls. Even if the Sox can't get the result they need, it's some rare sign of light for the rotation's scariest arm.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 6th -- The Red Sox lineup seems determined to waste Clay Buchholz' good start today, not making Hellickson work at all as they swing early and often. He's through 6 innings on just 68 pitches now after a 1-2-3 sixth.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 6th -- Clay Buchholz falls victim to the worst of his bad habits in the sixth, paying too much attention to a runner at first and then allowing him to reach second all-the-same on a walk. The double play that followed, however, was more reminiscent of the Clay Buchholz from 2010 and 2011 who could be trusted with a start.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 5th -- Turnabout, as they say, is fair play. Will Middlebrooks singles up the middle with one out, but just as Clay Buchholz did in the top half, Jeremy Hellickson gets the ground ball he needs to kill two birds with one stone and keep the Red Sox off the board.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 5th -- A bit of a hanging breaking ball costs Clay Buchholz another baserunner, but he quickly rectifies the situation by getting a double play ball from Chris Gimenez to end the inning.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 4th -- Jeremy Hellickson has his first 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth, running through the heart of the Red Sox order in speedy fashion.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 4th -- Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield finally ends up costing the Sox, as his failure to hit the cutoff man on a line-hugging double allows Matt Joyce to move to third and then score on a ground ball out. Buchholz' off-speed stuff hasn't been quite as accurate of late, and with Luke Scott singling, it will be an earned run, but what's important right now is that the Sox trail.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 3rd -- Another inning, another baserunner, another stranded baserunner for the Red Sox, who waste a one-out single from Scott Podsednik.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 3rd -- Angel Hernandez' strike zone costs the Red Sox a baserunner, as Will Rhymes is gifted a favorable count and then manages to fist a single into right. Jarrod Saltalamacchia guns him down on a failed hit-and-run, however, and Hernandez makes up for it with a questionable called strike three to Chris Gimenez in another scoreless inning.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 2nd -- The Red Sox get another hit--a leadoff single from Kevin Youkilis to left--but even with Jarrod Saltalamacchia managing to beat out a double play ball, Will Middlebrooks goes down swinging to end the inning without any harm done.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 2nd -- Buchholz looks extra-sharp in the second inning, utilizing well placed curveballs and changeups to get ahead of and then strike out both Luke Scott and Drew Sutton. It's big that Buchholz is feeling his secondary stuff well enough that he's willing to rely on it so heavily--when he has to turn to his fastball to carry the load things often don't turn out all that well.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 1st -- Some very hard contact for the Red Sox, who see Mike Aviles fly out almost to the track in dead center to start the inning. Dustin Pedroia picks up the first hit of the game, but is called out on what may have been a phantom tag at second as he tried to stretch it into a double. It was a bad decision to run, but an inventive slide from Pedroia may have kept the glove from ever touching him. Unfortunately, despite the contact, with David Ortiz going down on just two pitches, Hellickson heads back to the dugout with an easy first behind him.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 1st -- Clay Buchholz has a relatively uneventful first inning, with a bloop single being the only damage caused by the Rays. Buchholz got Pena out with the first pitch of the game, and then got ahead of two of the next three batters, so at least early on he's throwing strikes.
The Red Sox are out for another series win against the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. with broadcasts by NESN, TBS, and WEEI.
Adrian Gonzalez will stay in right field with Will Middlebrooks at third and Kevin Youkilis at first as the Sox try to score some runs off of Jeremy Hellickson. That's proved a tall order for teams so far, though the Sox have done it once before, taking five off of him in five innings back in April.
Unless they can replicate that feat, they'll need Clay Buchholz to be the man he was against the Rays last time out--arguably his only decent start of the year--rather than the man he's been in every other game.
Boston Red Sox (23-23)
Tampa Bay Rays (28-19)
Yesterday the Sox made two substitutions that had a chance to win or lose the game for them.
The first change came in the sixth after Adrian Gonzalez reached base on a single. He was quickly pulled for a pinch runner in Che-Hsuan Lin.
The second came in the ninth, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia pinch-hitting for Marlon Byrd. He would, of course, hit a walkoff homer to turn a 2-1 loss into a 3-2 win. That one doesn't need much explanation. The only good hitter left on Boston's bench, Saltalamacchia was given a runner in scoring position between a Daniel Nava walk and one of the rare acceptable bunts in baseball (Kelly Shoppach wasn't going to do anything against Fernando Rodney, and the Sox could only avoid one of the two "sure outs" in Shoppach and Byrd, so they may as well give themselves two shots to tie it with a single), and did not waste his opportunity.
More questionable, however, was the pinch runner.
It's not hard to see where Bobby Valentine was coming from when he pulled Adrian Gonzalez. Anticipating a lead, Valentine wanted to get Gonzalez out of the dangerous right field, and added some speed on the basepaths as a kicker. The problem is that this sort of substitiution can put the Sox in something of a bind later on in the game.
After all, while the Sox would manage to take the lead in that inning, in the very next frame Josh Beckett would surrender two, and suddenly the lineup needed to score again to have any chance at winning the game. The problem is, one of the biggest spots in the lineup, coming after the Dustin Pedroia - David Ortiz - Kevin Youkilis group that's most likely to give the team a baserunner, was suddenly filled not by Adrian Gonzalez, but by the worst bat on the team.
It's nice to have Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup even with Youkilis, Middlebrooks, and Ortiz playing. But if the Sox are going to play it that way, then they have to commit. The loss of Gonzalez from the five-hole in exchange for the likes of Che-Hsuan Lin and Scott Podsednik is too massive a hit to take without a big, late lead. They either have to leave him in until the game is in hand, or save the odd-man out (be it Gonzalez, Youkilis, Ortiz, or Middlebrooks) on the bench so they can make their one at-bat count with a key pinch hitting appearance.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia played the hero Saturday night in what has to be the win of the year so far, hitting a walkoff home run to turn a 2-1 ninth inning deficit into a 3-2 win.
The game began as one would expect a Josh Beckett - David Price matchup to begin: with a lot of outs. Beckett has been nothing short of amazing against the Rays since last year, and David Price is one of the most difficult lefties in the game, particularly combined with one of the league's best defenses (if not by fielding percentage).
The Sox would get baserunners first, with Dustin Pedroia singling and Kevin Youkilis drawing a 9-pitch walk in the first before Adrian Gonzalez went down swinging to end the inning. Jose Molina would give the Rays their first hit in the third, but he would be the only baserunner Beckett would allow for the first six innings.
Boston would finally break through against Price in the sixth. A single and a walk from Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz got the inning started on the right foot, and though Dustin Pedroia would be thrown out at home on an Adrian Gonzalez single thanks to a great throw by B.J. Upton, a bit of mediocre defense by Sean Rodriguez allowed Will Middlebrooks to drive in David Ortiz rather than record the third out.
The lead would not last long, however, as the Rays managed to put together a few ground balls at the right time to the right places in the seventh. A sacrifice fly from Ben Zobrist after the Rays started the inning with two such singles tied the game, and with Daniel Nava throwing home instead of two second (he had no chance to catch Upton at the plate), Joyce was able to take a free base and put himself in position to grab the lead on the ensuing single from Luke Scott.
Andrew Miller and Rich Hill would manage to keep the score at 2-1 headed to the ninth, where the Sox faced the unfortunate prospect of needing to score a run with Daniel Nava, Kelly Shoppach, and Marlon Byrd due at the plate. Nava, the one who could possibly be expected to come through against the right-handed Fernando Rodney, did just that by working an 8-pitch walk. Bobby Valentine would elect to bunt him over to second base with Nick Punto, but it wouldn't matter at all in the end. Pinch-hitting for Marlon Byrd, Jarrod Saltalamacchia swung through one fastball, and then launched a second one high and deep to right-center, depositing it a few rows deep for the walkoff home run.
|Final - 5.26.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Tampa Bay Rays||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||2||4||0|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||3||9||1|
|WP: Rich Hill (1 - 0)
LP: Fernando Rodney (2 - 1)
The Red Sox and Rays will get back to baseball one day after a charged game in Fenway Park led to cleared benches and heated postgame comments from both managers. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. with broadcasts on FOX and WEEI.
Will Middlebrooks will make his return to the lineup one day after being pushed out by Kevin Youkilis. The exciting young third baseman will take over for Youkilis at his natural position, with Youkilis shifting over to first and Adrian Gonzalez taking over in right field.
Josh Beckett, then, will likely have to avoid giving up too many fly balls to that tricky right field if he wants to keep his run of success against the Rays going. He's been excellent in his last two starts, and threw eight one-run innings against Tampa Bay the first time he faced them this year.
Boston Red Sox (22-23)
Tampa Bay Rays (28-18)
In Friday's 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Jon Lester was not at all happy with home plate umpire Mike Carlson.
As Carlson refused to expand the strike zone on a number of borderline pitches in the third inning, Lester began to stare in at him after every close call, growing visibly frustrated on the mound. Instead of adapting, however, Lester stubbornly continued to try to paint the corners, leaving him behind in counts and resulting in walks and, ultimately, forcing him to lob meatballs over the center of the plate.
After the game, Lester would say that he felt he had to throw the ball through "a keyhole", seemingly shifting blame onto Carlson for his bad outing. But does he have a point?
Brooks Baseball provides data from PITCHf/x, the system which tracks every major league pitch for speed, break, and eventual location amongst other things. Here is the strike zone information from last night's game:
Long story short, yes, the zone was a bit small. In today's game, umpires who actually follow the zone as defined by PITCHf/x are few and far between, all ranking on the stingier side of things. But that's hardly a "keyhole".
What we also see is that both pitchers received the same zone. As an individual concerned about his numbers, Jon Lester has reason to be annoyed. The problem is that he didn't then take the zone into consideration and start throwing strikes early so that he wouldn't be forced to throw right down the middle late (and there are plenty of good called strikes there which are not home runs waiting to happen). Instead, Lester reacted selfishly and stupidly, insisting that the umpire change while ignoring the impact that would inevitably have on his team: a 7-1 deficit.
This is not ace behavior, and this is not even #3 performance. The Sox need more from their supposed top starter, both in terms of production and accountability.
For the fifth time this year, the Sox have fallen in a game that offered them the opportunity to get over the .500 mark, falling 7-4 to the Rays behind a terrible Jon Lester.
After the first inning saw the Red Sox jump on top 1-0 with Jon Lester recording three outs on eight pitches and Kevin Youkilis knocking in the run, Sox fans may have been feeling optimistic about this one. One of their best pitchers on the mound and looking good, and the third baseman keeping Will Middlebrooks out of the lineup providing an offensive punch--everything was going fine.
Then the strike zone shrunk on Lester in the third and, rather than react and adapt, he simply stared in at the ump, threw another pitch looking to paint the corners, and then walked another batter. Loading the bases in the third, Lester fell behind to Matt Joyce 2-0, then 3-1, and with nowhere to put him, grooved a fastball middle-middle. Joyce didn't miss, and dropped a grand slam into the bullpen for the 4-1 lead.
Things would get no better for Lester in the fourth, as he hung curveballs to both Elliot Johnson and Carlos Pena, resulting in back-to-back shots that had the Rays up 7-1.
The Sox would fight their way back within striking distance as Scott Atchison held the Rays for the middle innings. Picking up a run on an Adrian Gonzalez wall ball in the fifth, and then adding two more when J.P. Howell walked the first two batters in the sixth, the Sox pulled within three runs with three innings to go.
Unfortunately, that was where the scoring would stop. Franklin Morales plunking Luke Scott would draw the benches onto the field, where the coaching staffs would be the main belligerents, but the Sox would get no more offense, with Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney closing out the last two innings without allowing a baserunner.
The Red Sox are at it once again, trying for the fifth time to get above .500 and into "winning" territory.
Fifth time's the charm?
The Sox will have to get to the unfamiliar Alex Cobb in order to make what seemed like a far-off dream a month ago into a reality, and they'll have to do it without Will Middlebrooks, who is riding the pine with Youkilis at third, Gonzalez at first, and both Byrd and Podsednik in the outfield. If they do get something off of Cobb, then it may well be enough with Jon Lester on the mound--assuming he's got better stuff than he had in his last outing.
We'll keep you up-to-date with all the action as it goes down in Fenway
Rays 7, Red Sox 4, Final -- 0-and-5 in games that can put them over .500. We may love the Sox, but I don't think they love us back.
Rays 7, Red Sox 4, Mid 9th -- And the benches empty! With two down in the top of the ninth, Franklin Morales misses behind Luke Scott, and then hits his target with his second attempt. Everyone runs out to the field...and then in typical baseball fashion stand around.
The coaches were actually the ones to eventually get into it, with Bob McClure, Tim Bogar, and Bobby Valentine getting into shouting matches with the Tampa Bay staff before everyone was separated and sent back to their dugouts to watch the third out be recorded soon thereafter without any ejections in between.
Rays 7, Red Sox 4, End 8th -- The bottom of the Sox order imitates Tampa's top-of-the-inning performance by giving Joel Peralta a 1-2-3 inning. The difference is Byrd and Podsednik going down by way of the K. Gonna need something of a miracle now.
Rays 7, Red Sox 4, Mid 8th -- Scott Atchison is finally out of the game, as Matt Albers takes over to start the eighth. The Rays manage to put their bats on the ball, and get some good contact against him, but Albers still gets all three outs in order, which is about all you can ask for in a game like this.
Rays 7, Red Sox 4, End 7th -- 4-5-6 go 1-2-3, leaving the Sox with just six outs to make this happen.
Rays 7, Red Sox 4, Mid 7th -- An infield single from B.J. Upton eventually gives the Rays a RISP, but Atchison works out of it to record another scoreless inning.
Rays 7, Red Sox 4, End 6th -- The Sox get something back in the sixth, as J.P. Howell walks the only two batters he faces in relief of Alex Cobb, and both end up scoring on a Marlon Byrd single and Mike Aviles sacrifice fly. Dustin Pedroia was hit in the back to put two men on for David Ortiz, but David Ortiz could only take Jake McGee too deep right, and not out of the park, leaving the Sox still down by three.
Rays 7, Red Sox 2, Mid 6th -- The Rays get their leadoff batter at second base on a single to right and a bobble from Marlon Byrd. Scott Atchison manages to fight back, however, striking out both Chris Gimenez and Carlos Pena to end the inning.
Rays 7, Red Sox 2, End 5th -- A bit of wall ball from Adrian Gonzalez gets the Red Sox a run, but they're still far off the pace of the Rays. They need to put up some crooked number in a hurry if they want to have any shot at this game.
Rays 7, Red Sox 1, Mid 5th -- Scott Atchison records a 1-2-3 fifth in relief of the terrible Jon Lester. It's shocking given where we were at the beginning of April that it would be preferable to have long men from the bullpen putting together the first six innings of games rather than the rotation.
Rays 7, Red Sox 1, End 4th -- Another 1-2-3 inning for the Red Sox, who are just having one of those days. There have been too many of these days this year, unfortunately, and all the way back to last September.
Rays 7, Red Sox 1, Mid 4th -- Jon Lester surrenders back-to-back homers to Elliot Johnson and Carlos Pena as the Sox continue to make an art form out of frustrating their fan base. Looks like it's going to take at least six tries for Boston to make it to a winning record barring a massive comeback, all because their top pitcher stood at a crossroads with a 3.95 ERA, and rather than building towards the level you expect of a #1--or even #2--went ahead and gave up seven runs in four innings.
Rays 4, Red Sox 1, End 3rd -- David Ortiz gets his bat on the ball, but hits it right into the shift for the second out in a 1-2-3 inning. Not exactly a good show of picking up the pitcher by the 2-3-4 hitters.
Rays 4, Red Sox 1, Mid 3rd -- The strike zone seems to shrink on Jon Lester, who responds to the adversity by completely falling apart. A walk, a single, and another walk leave the bases loaded with two outs, and Lester falls behind Matt Joyce 2-0 and then 3-1, forcing him to groove a fastball down the middle. Joyce doesn't miss it, launching a high fly ball to right field which carries back into the bullpen for a grand slam.
Not a good sign for the whole "winning record" thing.
Red Sox 1, Rays 0, End 2nd -- An uneventful bottom half to the second sees the Sox go down around a walk to Marlon Byrd. The bottom of the order isn't terribly impressive tonight, so anything the Sox get from them is just a bonus.
Red Sox 1, Rays 0, Mid 2nd -- Jon Lester escapes some trouble in the second. After a strikeout of Ben Zobrist got the inning off on the right foot, Matt Joyce got the Rays their first hit of the game with a soft line drive into left field. Kevin Youkilis managed to snag a line drive off the bat of Sean Rodriguez to keep things under control, and after a walk to Drew Sutton a ground ball from Chris Gimenez ended the inning without any damage.
Red Sox 1, Rays 0, End 1st -- Already having Kevin Youkilis in the lineup tonight has paid dividends for the Red Sox, with the third baseman lining an RBI single to center to give the Sox the early lead.
The baserunner came on an error by former Sox backup Drew Sutton, who let a relatively routine ground ball off the bat of MIke Aviles slip past him. Aviles would steal second with David Ortiz in the process of drawing a walk, and then came around when Youkilis caught a fastball square for his hit.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 1st -- John Lester has a very quick 1-2-3 first to get the Sox off on the right foot. Carlos Pena, who has had plenty of success in his career against Lester, was the first to go down, pounding a 2-0 fastball into the dirt to first base for the out. B.J. Upton jumped all over the first pitch he was thrown, but had the ensuing line drive head straight towards Scott Podsednik in center. Luke Scott would take as many pitches as the first two batters combined, but watched a well-placed fastball go by for strike three to end the inning.
The Red Sox are taking another shot at a winning record Friday night, as they send Jon Lester to the mound against Alex Cobb and the Rays. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. with broadcasts by NESN, the MLB Network, and WEEI.
For the first time in over two weeks, the starting lineup will not include Will Middlebrooks, who will be taking the bench in favor of--depending on how you look at it--either Kevin Youkilis, Marlon Byrd, or Scott Podsednik. It's a shame given that he's gotten back to hitting over the last week after a short slump, but we knew that with the return of Kevin Youkilis he would have to miss out on at least a few occasions.
It will be up to the grizzled veterans, then, to hit the young Alex Cobb as he takes the mound for the Rays, with Will available to take over for any big at bats the Sox should come on with one of the weaker outfielders at the plate.
Boston Red Sox (22-22)
The Red Sox are once again after a winning record Friday night, as they welcome the Rays back to Fenway with a 10-3 run at their backs and Jon Lester on the mound.
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