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As the MLB season winds down, a number of American League pennant races are coming down to the wire including a three-way battle in the AL East. In the National League, the division leaders have some breathing room, but the wild card race is jam packed.
The Red Sox failed to complete the sweep against the Blue Jays Sunday afternoon, falling 5-0 as Jon Lester faltered late.
This game began as an impressive pitchers' duel against unimpressive offenses. The Red Sox had some early chances, with Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury both reaching in the first before the attack died out on a strikeout and pop-up from Cody Ross and James Loney.
Lester, meanwhile, would not allow a baserunner until a leadoff groundball double from Omar Vizquel in the third. He would escape that frame through more weak contact--his bread-and-butter in the early frames
The Sox would put up another threat in the fourth with a pair of singles, but Morrow managed to work his way out of that one too, facing the bottom of the lineup. The Jays made a rally of their own in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a walk and an error to lead off the inning, but Lester turned to the strikeout to put an end to that threat, and then to get through an impressive sixth inning.
The problems for Lester would come just one out from the end of his day. After recording two quick outs in the seventh, Lester gave up a ground ball single up the middle to Yan Gomes. It was an innocent start, but Gomes stole second, and then scored on a single from Omar Vizquel to center to make it 1-0. The very next pitch was a fastball that ran in to Adeiny Hechavarria, and he got all of it, jolting a two-run shot to left, making it 3-0.
The Jays would tack on another pair of runs in the fifth off the still-struggling Daniel Bard, but that was just extra. With the Sox never managing to get on the board, the extra runs just proved to turn a Blue Jays win into a small-scale blowout.
|Final - 9.16.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||7||2|
|Toronto Blue Jays||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||2||X||5||7||0|
|WP: Brandon Lyon (3 - 0)
LP: Jon Lester (9 - 12)
The Red Sox are actually out for a sweep today, of all things, as they send Jon Lester to the mound against Brandon Morrow and the Toronto Blue Jays.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Rogers Centre.
Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0, Mid 8th -- The Sox have their best threat in a long time, but it's snuffed out in a hurry. After back-to-back one-out singles, Cody Ross hits a ground ball to short. Omar Vizquel scoops it up, steps on second, and fires to first, ending the threat before any damage is done.
Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0, End 7th -- And it all goes horribly wrong for Lester in the seventh. After getting two quick outs, a ground ball from Yan Gomes up the middle gives the Jays some life, and they capitalize fully. After a steal of second, a hanging curveball to Omar Vizquel ends up laced into center field for an RBI single, and when Andy Hechavarria catches a fastball running inside, it's all over. The two-run shot makes it 3-0--a steep hill to climb after seven shutout innings.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 7th -- The Sox get a two-out single and steal from Pedro Ciriaco with Brandon Lyon in the game for Brandon Morrow, but Daniel Nava can't complete the deal, leaving the Sox still facing a shutout after seven.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 6th -- Lester gets another pair of strikeouts in the sixth, but this time they're just an extra bonus on top of the 1-2-3 frame for the Boston southpaw.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 6th -- The middle of the Red Sox order at least manages to put some good wood on the ball in the sixth, hitting a trio of fly balls off of Morrow. Only one actually tests the outfield, however, and Anthony Gose is up to the task, making a running grab by his shoetops to end the inning. The good news is that Morrow's pitch count is up over 100, meaning he shouldn't last much longer compared to Jon Lester, who will start the inning with 70.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 5th -- Despite a messy start to the frame, Jon Lester is through a fifth inning of scoreless baseball. After giving up a leadoff walk to Moises Sierra, Lester gets a ground ball back to the mound and promptly throws it into center field, trying to get Sierra at second. The Sox seem to luck out as Sierra tries to round the bag and head for third, only to hold up and turn back. Unfortunately for them, however, Pedro Ciriaco can't handle the throw from center, and Sierra is able to retreat successfully.
Now facing runners at first and second with zero outs, Lester turns to the strikeout to escape the inning, reaching back to hit 94 MPH as he mowed down both Omar Vizquel and Adeiny Hechavarria. From there, all he needed was a ground ball to send the game to the sixth.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 5th -- The Sox turn the lineup over with another 1-2-3 inning. This seems to have settled into a pitchers' duel, if not the quickest one in the history of the game.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 4th -- Lester goes right back to 1-2-3 form, making a nice play to snag a ground ball bouncing back at him off the bat of Adam Lind and making the toss to first to record out number three.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 4th -- The Sox threaten again, and fail to score again. After Cody Ross supply a pair of singles around a James Loney fly ball out, Ryan Lavarnway almost gets lucky again, hitting a fly ball to Moises Sierra that the right fielder nearly loses in the sun for a second time. Sierra recovers, however, and Pedro Ciriaco pops out into foul territory to end the frame.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 3rd -- Surprisingly enough it's Omar Vizquel who provides the first baserunner for the Toronto Blue Jays, grounding past third for a leadoff double that puts Lester immediately under pressure. The lefty is able to work out of it, however, with his first ground ball going to shortstop, holding Vizquel at second until there are two outs, at which point a pop-up from Lawrie finishes the frame.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 3rd -- Without the interference of the sun in his outfielders' eyes, Morrow enjoys his first 1-2-3 inning of the day, though Jacoby Ellsbury takes him nearly to the wall in right field for a dangerous final out.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 2nd -- Lester rolls right along through the second. He's keeping the ball on the ground for the most part, and has his first strikeout, too, after getting Yan Gomes to swing through his cutter. When that pitch is on for Lester, it's a very good sign. There's no more important part of his arsenal.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 2nd -- Ryan Lavarnway is gifted a one-out double courtesy of Moises Sierra, who completely loses the ball, standing idle as it bounces a ways away from him and into the stands for two bases. The Sox don't capitalize, however, with the bottom two of the order going down quietly
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 1st -- Lester has a rather easier time than Morrow in his first inning. While an eight-pitch at bat against Brett Lawrie leaves him with a standard pitch count of 15, Lester gets a pair of ground balls and a shallow fly to center that Ellsbury comes in to make the grab on, ending a 1-2-3 frame for Boston's southpaw starter.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 1st -- Brandon Morrow bends, but he does not break in the first. While Scott Podsednik went down in relatively rapid fashion, Morrow had a much more difficult time with Dustin Pedroia. Though the second baseman found himself in a two-strike count within three pitches, Morrow would end up needing to throw eight pitches to Pedroia, and then got a line drive single into right for his trouble.
Jacoby Ellsbury followed up with a five-pitch walk to make it two on with one out, but that's when the attack flagged. Cody Ross fought a decent battle, but ended up taking a fastball for a clear strike three, and while James Loney nearly lucked out, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was able to track far enough back to make the grab on his bloop into shallow center field for out number three.
Not one week after being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays in Fenway Park, the Red Sox are looking to return the favor in Rogers Centre. They'll go for the rare sweep Sunday afternoon as they send Jon Lester to the mound against the talented Brandon Morrow. First pitch is at 1:07 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
The Sox will return to the form of lineup they had used during the worst of their lengthy losing streak, featuring Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Ross in the 2-3-4 spots. James Loney will fill the fifth spot, the catching tandem the sixth and seventh with Lavarnway getting the start behind the plate and Saltalamacchia playing DH.
It's not a pretty lineup, but it's the sort that's been able to get the job done one way or another the last couple of games. Hopefully it's up for a third.
Boston Red Sox (66-80)
Toronto Blue Jays (65-79)
The Boston Red Sox will go for a sweep against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre. Jon Lester takes the mound for the Red Sox against Brandon Morrow of the Blue Jays.
Lester is 9-11 with a 4.99 ERA on the year. Lester's last outing came on Sept. 11, when he went 5.1 innings and gave up three runs on five hits against the Yankees. The 28-year-old left-hander from Tacoma, Wash. last faced the Blue Jays on July 22, and it turned out to be his worst start of the season. Lester walked five, allowed nine hits and four home runs on his way to giving up 11 runs in four innings.
Morrow has made 17 starts in 2012, going 8-6 with a 3.16 ERA. Morrow faced his former team, the Seattle Mariners, in his last outing. It didn't go well, as he allowed four runs on 11 hits in 4.2 innings. The Red Sox have not faced Morrow this season.
Game Time, TV/Radio Schedule: 1:07 p.m. ET, NESN/WEEI
Thanks to a clutch hit from Pedro Ciriaco, the Red Sox were able to knock off the Blue Jays 3-2, taking consecutive wins for the first time in over two weeks.
The Red Sox would find themselves in an early hole as Clay Buchholz' control difficulties cost them in the first. After two quick outs, Buchholz would fail to find the strike zone against Edwin Encarnacion, and then had a double from Adam Lind and Yunel Escobar single bring the run home, though the inning would end there with Cody Ross throwing a bullet home to catch Lind by a mile.
Having just saved a run, Ross set about getting the one Buchholz had given up back. Hooking a fastball that tailed back into his wheelhouse, Ross sent a high fly ball out to left and over the wall for a solo shot, tying the game before an out was recorded in the second.
Ross would be at the center of another run scoring effort in the fourth, as well, drawing a two-out walk to extend the inning. James Loney would single him over to third, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitting a drive to center that seemed to freeze Anthony Gose, dropping in for an RBI base hit.
With Clay Buchholz having settled down after the first, the fourth inning rally gave the Sox a 2-1 lead. Buchholz would continue to pitch effectively, but was undone by an error in the bottom of the fifth, which cost him an out and allowed the tying run to score from third on a sacrifice fly that would have otherwise ended the inning.
The tie would persist into the ninth, with Craig Breslow replacing Buchholz after seven for a 1-2-3 eighth and the Blue Jays pen escaping a tricky situation in the eighth with the bases loaded and just one out. Much like on Friday, it would be the final inning which decided the game, and once again it was the Red Sox who rallied. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off with a double to right field, and while Ryan Lavarnway and Mike Aviles couldn't move him to third until there were two outs in the inning, Pedro Ciriaco came through. Picking up yet another clutch hit, Ciriaco drove Salty in with a double down the left field line, giving the Sox the 3-2 advantage. Andrew Bailey nailed down the save, and the Sox ensured a series win.
|Final - 9.15.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||6||2|
|Toronto Blue Jays||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||2||5||0|
|WP: Craig Breslow (1 - 0)
SV: Andrew Bailey (4)
LP: Steve Delabar (4 - 2)
The Sox are looking for their first back-to-back wins since their series against the Royals more than two weeks ago.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Rogers Centre.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 2, End 8th -- Craig Breslow's eighth inning is as clean as can be, with two basic groundouts and a strikeout of Kelly Johnson. Can't ask for much more.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 2, Mid 8th -- Villanueva only lasts one batter in the eighth, surrendering a leadoff walk to Pedro Ciriaco before getting the hook. The Sox for some reason are willing to give up an out to move Ciriaco to second with Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate, showing bunt, but Aaron Loup can't stay in the zone, and ends up walking the center fielder instead. This time Daniel Nava does get the bunt down, moving both runners into scoring position, but it's only to have Dustin Pedroia draw a walk off of Steve Delabar behind him, loading the bases.
Unfortunately, that's where the swingless rally stalls. Delebar manages to strike out Cody Ross, and James Loney can only pop out behind him. This game is looking awfully similar to last night's, which came down to a ninth inning rally from the Sox. Hopefully more of the same is forthcoming?
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 2, End 7th -- Buchholz offers up his first unintentional walk since the third, but it comes with two outs and, finally pitching to Edwin Encarnacion, he gets a ground ball behind it to end the inning without incident.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 2, Mid 7th -- The Red Sox go down relatively quietly after a leadoff single from James Loney, wasting the baserunner. With just 85 pitches on his arm, Villanueva could go the full nine today.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 2, End 6th -- Buchholz finishes off the sixth with a strikeout of his own to Moises Sierra. But for the error in the fifth, he's done a great job of settling down and working around some at times shaky control.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 2, Mid 6th -- Villanueva gets the quick tow outs once again, but this time finishes the job, striking out Cody Ross to end the sixth without any damage done.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 2, End 5th -- Buchholz' momentum reverses course again in the fifth, as he runs into early trouble and ends up losing Boston's slim lead. A single from Anthony Gose gets things started, and a bit of a tough error for Pedro Ciriaco, knocking the ball towards Aviles at short, costs him another baserunner. Brett Lawrie lays down a sacrifice bunt to put Gose in scoring position, and after an intentional walk to Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind is capable of getting the ball in the air, deep enough for a sacrifice fly.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1, Mid 5th -- Villanueva recovers from his two-out trouble the inning before by turning the Red Sox lineup over with a very quick 1-2-3 frame. He'll have the same three to face in the sixth as he did in the fourth.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1, End 4th -- Clay Buchholz has his best frame of the day, retiring the Jays 1-2-3 and picking up his third strikeout of the game in the process.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1, Mid 4th -- The fourth inning looks a lot like the first as Daniel Nava goes down on strikes and Dustin Pedroia hits a routine fly ball to center field. This time they've got another out to work with after, however, bringing Cody Ross to the plate. He doesn't repeat his first inning heroics, walking on a perhaps incorrect call, but that's all it takes for the Sox to rally. James Loney and Jarrod Saltalamacchia follow up with back-to-back singles up the middle, with the latter's effort seeming to freeze Anthony Gose in center, and the Sox grab a 2-1 lead.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 1, End 3rd -- Buchholz surrenders a troubling third walk--the second he's allowed to the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion--but the Jays can do nothing else against him in the inning, making this the first time they failed to provide a serious threat to the Red Sox' starter.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 1, Mid 3rd -- The Sox go 1-2-3 in the top of the third. Cody Ross is the only batter to provide anything for the team offensively, with Jacoby Ellsbury's long fly ball a distant second place.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 1, End 2nd -- Clay Buchholz manages to hold the tie, but his pitching right now is certainly concerning. Leading off the inning with his second walk of the game, this one to Kelly Johnson, Buchholz would find himself facing first-and-third with one out after a Moises Sierra single that Jacoby Ellsbury was just able to keep from getting into the gap.
Luckily, as in last night's game, Daniel Nava was there to play the defensive savior. He was lucky to have Anthony Gose fire a line drive directly in his direction, but the bullet home that kept Johnson from scoring on a sacrifice fly was all him, as was the leaping catch at the wall that robbed Rajai Davis of at least one and probably two runs driven in, ending the inning with no damage done.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 1, Mid 2nd -- After saving a run for the Sox in the bottom of the first, Cody Ross gets them one in the top of the second, taking a 2-1 two-seam fastball that breaks into his wheelhouse and clubbing it over the wall in left for a solo shot that brings the Sox equal.
Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- A two-out rally against Clay Buchholz gets the Jays on the board, but Cody Ross keeps it from getting worse than just the one run. After a fly out and strikeout from the first two batters of the inning, Edwin Encarnacion drew a walk to get the rally started, then moved to third when Adam Lind shot a double under the glove of a diving James Loney at first. Yunel Escobar managed to find the outfield dirt on an 0-1 fastball, and with that the Jays took the lead. It could have been worse, however, if Cody Ross hadn't fired a strike home, catching Adam Lind by a mile for the final out.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 1st -- The return of Dustin Pedroia makes no difference in Boston's ability to work at bats in the first. Much like in last night's first inning against Aaron Laffey, the Sox go down very quickly to Carlos Villanueva, with the righty needing just eight pitches to retire the side. Only Jacoby Ellsbury even really shows any life of the three who step to the plate, hitting a long fly ball to right-center that dies on the track for the out.
The Red Sox will go for a second straight win--and three in five games--as they send Clay Buchholz to the mound against Carlos Villanueva nad the Toronto Blue Jays.
Dustin Pedroia will be a sight for sore eyes at second base as he makes his return to action after the birth of his second son, Cole, kept him out of the lineup in the last couple of games. He'll take back his usual third spot in the lineup with Cody Ross and James Loney filling out the middle of the order behind him.
Both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway will find their way into the order with the right-handed Villanueva on the mound. The team will feel safer in that gambit with Guillermo Quiroz providing depth at the position now.
Boston Red Sox (65-80)
Toronto Blue Jays (65-78)
Going for their second win in a row, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound. The native Texan has struggled lately, allowing at least three earned runs in each of his last five starts. He is currently 11-6 with a 4.46 ERA.
The Blue Jays will counter with Carlos Villanueva, who began the year as a reliever before becoming a starter in late June. Villanueva has made two starts against the Red Sox this season, allowing three earned runs each time.
A win would bring Boston into a tie with Toronto for fourth place in the AL East.
Saturday's game will start at 1:07 p.m. ET, and can be found on NESN.
The Boston Red Sox managed to stave off mathematical elimination Friday night, taking an 8-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays thanks to a ninth-inning rally.
The Red Sox actually got two strong innings from Daisuke Matsuzaka to start the game, making this look suspiciously like one of those rare dominant Daisuke nights. The third, however, would dispel all thoughts of dominance as the disappointing starter provided the most stereotypical of Daisuke innings.
The disaster third got started with, of course, a plunking, followed quickly by a walk. While Matsuzaka managed to strike out Rajai Davis, he would offer up another free pass to Colby Rasmus to load the bases. They would be just as quickly unloaded when Daisuke spiked a pitch to Brett Lawrie into the ground, earning him a wild pitch and giving Moises Sierra a free ticket home.
The sixth pitch of that at bat to Lawrie would have reloaded the bases with another walk were it not for the fact that ball four went for another wild pitch, letting another run come home. Daisuke would finally have a ball in play as Adam Lind grounded out to second, but with the Sox unable to turn the first leg of the double play, the Jays brought another run in the back door. Three runs on zero hits, zero errors, one ball in play. If for some reason your children ask you one day what it was like to watch Daisuke pitch, show them this inning.
The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, had been kept off the board for the first three innings, but they'd made some headway with a pair of two-out singles in the third. The fourth would be where they broke through. Before an out was even recorded, Cody Ross had walked, Mauro Gomez had singled, and Ryan Lavarnway had caught an 85 MPH fastball and turned it into a three-run shot, putting it over the wall in left on a line to tie the game.
The tie would only last until the top of the next inning, when the Sox struck again thanks largely in part to Brett Lawrie. With two down and Mike Aviles on second, Lawrie scooped a ground ball to third and, instead of going to first, tried to tag Aviles on his way to the bag. Aviles pulled out his best football moves, spinning around the tag, and dove safely into first, setting up a walk from Ryan Lavarnway and two-run single from Daniel Nava that made it 5-3.
Of course, the Jays would climb back. Daisuke Matsuzaka miraculously made it all the way to the sixth, but surrendered a one-out triple which Clayton Mortensen could not keep from scoring. Then in the eighth, after another impressive inning from Junichi Tazawa, Vicente Padilla surrendered a leadoff single to Colby Rasmus and double to Brett Lawrie, and the lead was gone. Only a tremendous sliding grab from Daniel Nava saved the Sox from a deficit, as Chris Carpenter came in to mop up the rest.
Just like in the middle innings, however, the tide would shift suddenly back in Boston's favor, and this time for good. Jacoby Ellsbury shot a ground ball through the left side, and moved to second when Cody Ross dropped a line drive just in front of Rajai Davis. Up came Mauro Gomez, and the International League MVP delivered, hitting a hard drive to right-center that got past a diving Anthony Gose and to the wall, allowing both runners to score and moving Gomez to third. He would score on a Ryan Lavarnway sacrifice fly, and the Sox took an 8-5 lead that Andrew Bailey would not surrender in the bottom half of the inning.
|bottom of the 9th||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||3||2||0||0||0||3||8|
|Toronto Blue Jays||0||0||3||0||0||1||0||1||♦||5|
The Red Sox are back at it in Toronto Friday night, facing elimination from postseason contention if they can't hold on for one more day against the Toronto Blue Jays.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Rogers Centre.
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 5, End 8th -- Vicente Padilla lets the Jays grab the tie in the eighth. A leadoff single and double is all it takes, and just like that we're at 5-5 with only a sliding grab by Daniel Nava to thank that it's not much worse.
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4, Mid 8th -- The Sox waste a chance to get further ahead, stranding Jose Iglesias, who replaced James Loney, who replaced Daniel Nava after Nava's leadoff single. Iglesias would end up on third after a bad throw when they had him caught red handed trying to steal second, but Pedro Ciriaco grounded out to end the threat.
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4, End 7th -- Junichi Tazawa continues his incredible season, tearing through the Blue Jays 1-2-3 in the seventh with a pair of strikeouts against Anthony Gose and Rajai Davis to close it out.
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4, Mid 7th -- Frasor grabs three very quick outs, two of them on strikes and the third on a weak ground ball to end the top of the seventh.
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4, End 6th -- Give Daisuke an inch, and he'll take half your lead! Alright, so that's not entirely fair to the starter, but he does allow a one-out triple to Adam Lind, which puts Clayton Mortensen in one tricky situation. The young reliever can't avoid letting the run in on a single, though he records the other two outs without surrendering the lead.
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3, Mid 6th -- The Sox get a leadoff baserunner when Jose Iglesias gets plunked, but his pain ends up being in vain as they fall in order to Jason Frasor. For once, however, the Sox can just hold a lead, rather than needing to find one.
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3, End 5th -- Another 1-2-3 inning, and it seems like Daisuke will actually be able to pitch into the sixth inning. No if only this wasn't such a rare event...
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3, Mid 5th -- The Red Sox are ahead, and they pretty much have Brett Lawrie to thank. With two out and Mike Aviles on second, Lawrie gets a ground ball and, instead of going to first, tries to tag Aviles headed to third. Aviles pulls out his best football moves, spins around the tag, and dives into third to avoid the out and give the Sox new life. Ryan Lavarnway draws a walk behind him, and Daniel Nava provides the big hit with a drive to right field that scores both men in scoring position.
Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 3, End 4th -- Daisuke comes in and records a 1-2-3 fourth. Of course he does. Somehow his ability to do that after walking every player to ever wear a Blue Jays uniform just makes it all worse.
Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 3, Mid 4th -- One swing gets it all back for Boston as the middle of the order shows some life. A Cody Ross walk and Mauro Gomez single set up Ryan Lavarnway, who hooks an 85 MPH fastball, putting it on a line and driving it over the wall in left for a three-run shot that ties the game up. Aaron Laffey is already out of the game, too, leaving five innings of pen work for the Blue Jays.
Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- And the most Daisuke inning ever costs the Sox three runs. The Blue Jays did not record a single hit, and the Red Sox made no errors in this inning. Instead, it was walks and wild pitches that did them in. A hit batter to start, two plunkings with a strike out mixed in, pair of runs coming in when balls in the dirt escaped Ryan Lavarnway, all capped off by a double play not turned before Daisuke finally got the last out. Opposing teams don't even have to try against him. He just gives runs away.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 3rd -- This time it's Boston's turn to waste an opportunity. After two quick outs from the bottom of the order, Pedro Ciriaco and Jacoby Ellsbury both manage to get out of the infield, picking up back-to-back singles to put two men on. A double steal even leaves them both in scoring position, but it goes for naught as Anthony Gose manages to track Mike Aviles' fly ball to the corner in right for the third out.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 2nd -- Shockingly enough, not only is Daisuke not really responsible for the first jam he faces, but he manages to get out of the jam to boot. A leadoff double comes on what is essentially a pop-up from Adam Lind. Pedro Ciriaco ranges back as Daniel Nava comes in, but the ball drops between the two as neither really seems ready to take charge. Daisuke gets two easy ground balls, however, and spots the corner with a fastball to get J.P. Arencibia on strikes and end the inning.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 2nd -- More than a successful Kevin Cash at bat, Mauro Gomez actually manages to draw a 1-out walk off of Laffey. That's all the Sox get, however, with the rest of the outs coming easily on the ground.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, End 1st -- After the awful outing he had in the last series against the Jays, Daisuke's 1-2-3 first seems little short of a miracle. He does have some good infield defense behind him, but really it only makes up for the bad that comes when Pedro Ciriaco throws the ball away trying to make a highlight play on a swinging bunt to third. Mike Aviles backs up the throw perfectly, and throws Brett Lawrie out at second by a ways. Add in a nice play coming in by Jose Iglesias, and it's a mercifully quick first.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 1st -- Back when Kevin Cash was Boston's backup catcher, some of us observers developed an easy rule for him to follow: five pitches is a successful Kevin Cash at bat. You couldn't expect anything out of him offensively, so if he made the pitcher throw at least five pitches in getting him out, we could all chalk it up as a success.
I bring this up because the Red Sox aren't pulling that off right now. After letting Phil Hughes get through three innings on 26 pitches last night, they've given up a quick first to Aaron Laffey in Toronto, with only Mike Aviles even succeeding in producing a decent Kevin Cash at bat by flying out on the sixth pitch he saw.
The Red Sox will kick off their three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound against Aaron Laffey Friday night. First pitch is at 7:07 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
So it's come to this. The lineup has degenerated bit by bit, but tonight, with a lefty on the mound and Dustin Pedroia still absent from the team, they've reached a new low. Mike Aviles, playing second base, batting third. Ryan Lavarnway in for Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the dish. Daniel Nava, Mauro Gomez, Pedro Ciriaco...It's September 14, and this is the Red Sox lineup.
It can get lower, sure. Jacoby Ellsbury could miss out in favor of, say, Che-Hsuan Lin. Or, even worse, Cody Ross could be absent for one reason or another. But even without it being the worst-case scenario, it's awfully ugly.
Boston Red Sox (64-80)
Toronto Blue Jays (65-77)
The Red Sox will try to stave off elimination for one night longer as they head to Toronto to open their series against the Blue Jays.