The Boston Red Sox are ready to face off against the Toronto Blue Jays as they go looking for their second win of the season.
The spotlight will land on each team's starting pitcher tonight, as both men look to prove themselves and solidify their roles as fifth starters.
For Daniel Bard, it will be about proving his ability to go deep into games and remain effective. If he can master his changeup and maintain his velocity, he could be a major asset for a thin Sox rotation. If not, then he might be destined for a return to the bullpen.
Kyle Drabek, on the other hand, needs to prove he's ready for Major League competition. After a terrible rookie year that saw him get demoted in the middle of the season (following an eight run beating at the hands of none other than the Boston Red Sox), Drabek wants to show why he's the man the Blue Jays were willing to let go of Roy Halladay for.
We'll keep you up to date as the action progresses.
Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 7, Final -- The Sox strike for a pair as Nick Punto, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia reached to set up a two-run double from Adrian Gonzalez, but David Ortiz struck out to end the night and send the Sox to 1-4.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 7, End 8th -- Michael Bowden earns some redemption in a meaningless inning, striking out two to strand a leadoff baserunner.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 7, Mid 8th -- The Red Sox strand another pair as Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis reach, but long fly balls from Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz don't quite leave the park. This game is pretty much over.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 7, End 7th -- Edwin Encarnacion went very, very deep off of Michael Bowden. That is all.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 6, Mid 7th -- It's becoming increasingly clear that the bottom of the lineup is going to be a concern for this team. After Ryan Sweeney started the inning with a double, the Sox still could not bring him home. While Jarrod Saltalamacchia managed a walk, Cody Ross struck out and Nick Punto hit a routine fly ball, leaving it up to Jacoby Ellsbury to get the run in. While his flair to center seemed like it could be perfectly placed, Yunel Escobar made a running over-the-shoulder catch to keep the Sox stuck at one run.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 6, End 6th -- And it all falls apart in much the same way that it had been earlier in the night.
Daniel Bard can be held accountable for the leadoff walk--his first of the game--but not so much the ground ball single that followed, as Kevin Youkilis failed to cover third (the baserunner had stolen second), and Nick Punto threw late to first. The left side of the infield continues to absolutely kill Bard.
Bobby Valentine decided that was the time to go to the pen, and out came...Justin Thomas. It's a choice that will be questioned tomorrow, I'm sure, but with Atchison and Padilla likely out of the equation and Alfredo Aceves relegated, sadly, to the closer's role, his options were limited (Franklin Morales is the most obvious answer).
Either way, Thomas would walk the first batter he faced--a lefty in Eric Thames--and then fell behind to J.P. Arencibia before allowing a two-run single. With a sac fly bringing another run home, the Jays built their lead to a commanding five runs.
Bard's night will not look pretty given the five earned runs to his name, but frankly he pitched very well, hitting his spots and maintaining solid velocity throughout, though he did start to come a bit undone location-wise with 80+ pitches on his arm. The real blame for all the runs on the board falls, sadly, on the defense, particularly Kevin Youkilis and Nick Punto.
Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 3, Mid 6th -- Even when the offense scores, they manage to do it wrong. With a leadoff walk from Jacoby Ellsbury followed up by a Dustin Pedroia double, we might have expected more than one run. Well, no such luck. While Adrian Gonzalez got the team on the board with a sac fly and David Ortiz drew a walk to put runners on the corners, Kevin Youkilis undid the good from his earlier double by falling behind 0-2 and then, almost inevitably, grounding into a double play.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 3, End 5th -- Daniel Bard almost seemed to be losing it there as the game entered the fifth. Dustin Pedroia was forced to make a leaping grab on Kelly Johnson's liner, and Jose Bautista got ahead 2-0 as Bard seemed to lose control, nearly hitting him with his first pitch.
But then he challenged Bautista high, threw a slider to catch the inside corner, and got Bautista to go after another slider for the strikeout. Adam Lind grounded out weakly to short, and the inning was over.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 3, Mid 5th -- The Red Sox have just their second hit of the game after Cody Ross shot a long double to left field, but once again have nothing to show for it. Jarrod Saltalamacchia seemed like he might get the run in when he put a good swing on the first pitch of his at bat, but laced a line drive right into the glove of Jose Bautista in right. With Nick Punto being Nick Punto, the inning ended quietly.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 3, End 4th -- For once, Daniel Bard actually gives up good contact. Ironically, he is not punished for it, as Colby Rasmus' long fly ball stays up long enough for Cody Ross to get underneath it. A strikeout of Yunel Escobar finished the inning, leaving Bard with five strikeouts in just four innings.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 3, Mid 4th -- As much as Daniel Bard is not to blame for the runs on the board, the Red Sox' offense is at fault for their lack of runs. While Adrian Gonzalez was able to get some good wood on the ball to lead the inning off, the shift snuffed out any chance for a hit, while David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis took mediocre swings to close out another 1-2-3 inning.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 3, End 3rd -- Third inning, same as the first. But for Adam Lind's line drive in this frame, coming on an 0-2 fastball up and over the middle of the plate, Daniel Bard hasn't been giving up solid hits or making bad pitches all game. Still, the Jays are putting the ball on the ground, and for some reason the Red Sox' infield just can't seem to get gloves on them.
The result was two more runs for the Jays in the first. One hit came on a weak flair over Dustin Pedroia's head on an inside fastball, another two on rollers between first and second. There's not a lot Daniel Bard can do right now but keep at it and hope that they'll start turning a few of these into outs.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 1, Mid 3rd -- It's officially another slow start for the Red Sox' offense as Kyle Drabek enjoys his second 1-2-3 inning. After a routine fly ball from Nick Punto, Jacoby Ellsbury continued his run of pounding the ball hopelessly into the ground, and Dustin Pedroia followed suit. But for Nick Punto's long at bat, that was an inning completely without merit.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 1, End 2nd -- The difference between the first and second innings for Daniel Bard? In the second inning, the ground balls went for outs. Nick Punto gloved the first, and Adrian Gonzalez the second, leading to easy outs surrounding a strikeout on one of Bard's all-too-nasty sliders. It took just nine pitches, too, bringing Bard's count back under control after a bit of a runaway first.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 1, Mid 2nd -- A promising start to the inning that saw Kevin Youkilis double and Ryan Sweeney walk with one out fell apart as Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia failed to come through in the clutch. Ross would get ahead of Drabek 3-0 before Drabek fought back into a full count. Ross would foul off a few pitches, including at least one that would have been ball four, and then swung through a high, outside pitch. Jarrod Saltalamacchia would also get ahead fo Drabek, but then took three straight strikes to end the inning.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 1, End 1st -- Daniel Bard's starting career isn't off to the best of beginnings, but it's not really his fault. Despite getting ahead of batters and doing well with his usual fastball and slider combination, the left side of the infield let Bard down, allowing a run to come in.
Kevin Youkilis was the first to be exposed, as Bard painted the inside edge but had Yunel Escobar hit a weak grounder that got past the particularly immobile-looking third baseman. After retiring Kelly Johnson and Jose Bautista, he would have another ground ball get through the third base side for a double as Adam Lind took a very late swing on a fastball. Edwin Encarnacion, too, would pound the ball into the ground, but Nick Punto failed to make a clean scoop on a ball hit well to his right, allowing an infield single and an RBI.
Realizing he wasn't going to receive much help from his defense, Bard would strike out Brett Lawrie to finish the side.
Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0, Mid 1st -- Kyle Drabek is off to a quick start, needing just eight pitches to end the first. Living almost exclusively in the zone, Drabek managed to get Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out, caught Dustin Pedroia looking at a pitch on the edge of the zone (which Tim McClelland waited some 10 seconds to call a strike), and then broke Adrian Gonzalez' bat for a weak flair to the infield.