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After a rough start to the night, the Sox cruised to a 7-3 victory over the Rays behind big offensive efforts from Will Middlebrooks, Mike Aviles, and Daniel Nava.
The first inning actually started out about as well as the Sox could've hoped, with walks from Daniel Nava and David Ortiz putting two men on for Adrian Gonzalez' RBI single to left. Unfortunately, as Nava was busy scoring, Ortiz ran into an out at third, leaving the Sox with just the one in what could have been a very productive inning.
The bottom of the frame unfortunately proved more problematic, partially due to a bad call from third base umpire Jeff Nelson, who missed a check-swing call to save Ben Zobrist from a strikeout with two men on and nobody out in the first. Zobrist would eventually single off of Beckett's glove, bringing a run in in the process. Back-to-back strikeouts of B.J. Upton and Hideki Matsui would have ended the inning with the right call, but instead Beckett has to face Jeff Keppinger-who he hits-and Desmond Jennings, who brings in two more runs with a line drive single, leaving the game 3-1 after the first.
From there, however, momentum shifted to Boston. Mike Aviles caught a tempting floater over the inside part of the plate in the second, and launched it deep to center field for a two-run shot with Will Middlebrooks on base. With a great throw-and-tag from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Aviles respectively catching a base stealer in the bottom of the inning and saving Beckett from more damage, the teams headed into the middle innings tied at 3-3.
The Sox would eventually be the ones to break the knot in the fifth. Daniel Nava got the job done in a hurry by taking a slightly hanging changeup over the middle and blasting it into the right field stands for a no-doubter solo shot, but the Sox weren't done there. Two singles and a walk would load the bases with one out for Will Middlebrooks, who lined a two-run single past a diving Elliot Johnson and into left to make it a 6-3 game. They would add a seventh in the top of the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury (who had three hits on the night) scored on a sacrifice fly.
Josh Beckett, meanwhile, had settled down, and managed to pitch through the end of the sixth without allowing anymore damage, racking up seven strikeouts in the process. Junichi Tazawa would make things a bit scary by giving up two hits to start the seventh, but Mike Aviles caught the second runner, Ben Zobrist, turning wide at first, and Mark Melancon did an excellent job of cleaning up the seventh and adding on a scoreless eighth to send the game to the ninth, where Alfredo Aceves wrapped things up (if in tense fashion, loading the bases and giving up a loud fly ball out to Hideki Matsui) and sent the Sox back home with a series win.
The Red Sox and Rays are ready to decide their series Sunday afternoon as Josh Beckett takes on James Shields in the rubber match.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Tropicana Field.
Red Sox 7, Rays 3, Mid 9th -- Wade Davis strikes out the side in order. Included in the process is Brent Lillibridge, in for Adrian Gonzalez. There will be time to worry about what that means for Gonzalez and his back after the bottom of the ninth, however.
Red Sox 7, Rays 3, End 8th -- Mark Melancon has been nigh-untouchable since making his return to the majors, but he needs a little help from Pedro Ciriaco, who makes an excellent diving grab to pick a low line drive off the ground, robbing Jeff Keppinger of a leadoff single in a 1-2-3 eighth.
Red Sox 7, Rays 3, Mid 8th -- Jacoby Ellsbury's third hit of the day is wasted as David Ortiz grounds into an inning-ending double play behind him. But with a 7-3 lead and just two innings to go, they won't weep for the lost opportunity just yet.
Red Sox 7, Rays 3, End 7th -- A dangerous situation is diffused by a great defensive play from Mike Aviles. After Carlos Pena started the inning with a single against Junichi Tazawa, in to replace Josh Beckett, a Ben Zobrist line drive that dropped into right was set to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Mike Aviles, however, leapt high to cut off the throw to third, and fired on to first where Zobrist had made a too-wide turn. The tag was applied, and the danger was largely averted, with Mark Melancon coming in to strike out B.J. Upton and get a ground ball from Hideki Matsui to end the frame without even letting the runner from third come in to score.
Red Sox 7, Rays 3, Mid 7th -- Burke Badenhop enjoys a quick 1-2-3 seventh, getting Will Middlebrooks out for the first time on the night.
Red Sox 7, Rays 3, End 6th -- Josh Beckett finished up his night with a scoreless sixth inning, despite Pedro Ciriaco falling asleep on a line drive and allowing Elliot Johnson to simply take second base on what should have been a single, falling in front of Cody Ross in right. Beckett will leave with just a typical quality start, but were it not for that one check-swing call back in the first, who knows what he could have done?
Red Sox 7, Rays 3, Mid 6th -- The Red Sox don't exactly make the best of another bases loaded opportunity in the sixth, but a sacrifice fly from Cody Ross is enough to build their lead up to a sizable four runs before the inning comes to an end.
Red Sox 6, Rays 3, End 5th -- Just as Shields has his worst frame, Beckett has his best in the fifth, striking out B.J. Upton and Hideki Matsui before getting a lazy fly ball to end his first 1-2-3 frame of the night.
Red Sox 6, Rays 3, Mid 5th -- James Shields' struggles come to a head in the fifth, as the Sox put up a big three-run inning to seize the lead for the first time since the top of the first.
The lead comes quickly for the Sox when Shileds leaves a changeup thigh-high over the plate to Daniel Nava. The left fielder had been slumping of late, but catches all of this one, sending a no-doubter to right field to put the Sox up 4-3. Things just get worse from there for Shields, however, who gives up singles to David Ortiz and Cody Ross before walking Jarrod Saltalamacchia to load the bases with one out. Will Middlebrooks steps to the plate, and continues his torrid day by lacing a low line drive past a diving Elliot Johnson at short, bringing two more runs in to score before Shields manages to escape against the bottom of the order.
Rays 3, Red Sox 3, End 4th -- Josh Beckett still can't get a 1-2-3 inning, as he surrenders a one-out single to the same Will Rhymes who kept the Sox from scoring in the top of the fourth, but he's got his breaking stuff working now, and it's shining through, with curveballs and changeups carrying the load in strikeouts of Elliot Johnson, Carlos Pena, and Ben Zobrist.
Rays 3, Red Sox 3, Mid 4th -- A big chance goes by the wayside for Boston after a leadoff double from Will Middlebrooks and bunt single from Mike Aviles puts men on the corners with not a single out on the board. Pedro Ciriaco, however, falls victim to a strikeout, bringing Jacoby Ellsbury to the plate. While Ellsbury hits a quick ground ball up the middle, Will Rhymes makes an impressive stop at second base, tossing to Elliot Johnson for one, who fires on to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
Rays 3, Red Sox 3, End 3rd -- Josh Beckett enjoys his best inning despite a leadoff walk, getting three fly ball outs to end the frame without any real threat of damage for once.
Rays 3, Red Sox 3, Mid 3rd -- The 3-4 combo get good contact for the Red Sox, but while Gonzalez finds the hole on the left side of the infield for a base hit, Ortiz' line drive goes right to Elliot Johnson at short for the out, keeping the Red Sox from putting together a real scoring threat in the third.
Rays 3, Red Sox 3, End 2nd -- Another sketchy inning for Beckett ends without damage this time thanks to a good throw from Jarrod Saltlamacchia and tag by Mike Aviles, which just barely catches Elliot Johnson trying to steal second after a leadoff single. With a walk and bloop double following later in the inning, the fine defensive effort turns a potentially big inning into a scoreless one for Tampa.
Rays 3, Red Sox 3, Mid 2nd -- Back-and-forth this unusual game goes, with the Red Sox jumping right back in to tie things in the second thanks to a hit that's something of a sight for sore eyes.
Actually, both of the hits involved fall into that category, because the first came from Will Middlebrooks on a changeup. Pitchers had been getting Middlebrooks out left and right by pulling the string, so to see him stay back on a decent offering from Shields and send it hard to left for a base hit is a very encouraging sign.
The second hit was rather louder, however, and much longer in coming. Getting an 89 MPH pitch floating over the inside part of the plate, Mike Aviles took a big hack and sent the offering a long way to dead center, over a leaping B.J. Upton and out of the park for his first shot in nearly a month. Not that unusual a wait for a middle infielder, but after the pace he set to start the year, it seems like it's been forever.
Rays 3, Red Sox 1, End 1st -- Josh Beckett wastes no time at all in giving up the lead, surrendering back-to-back line drive hits before he's even thrown five pitches. A seven-pitch battle against Ben Zobrist follows, complete with a call that may have changed the game, as Zobrist clearly seemed to break his wrists chasing a low pitch, but was given ball three instead of strike three. On the next pitch, Zobrist lined a ball back to Beckett, who put a glove on it but could not recover in time to keep the runner at third or get Zobrist at first.
Strikeouts to B.J. Upton and Hideki Matsui would make the bad call even more impactful, as Beckett could have been out of a scoreless first had the umps gotten it right. Instead, he ended up hitting Jeff Keppinger and surrendering a single to Desmond Jennings that brought two more runs in, leaving the Sox in a 3-1 hole.
Red Sox 1, Rays 0, Mid 1st -- The Sox get to James Shields early in an inning that saw the Tampa Bay ace look less than his best.
The problem for Shields lay largely in his ability to command the strike zone in the first. After getting a fly ball out from Jacoby Ellsbury to start the game, Shields put four of his next five pitches out of the zone to Daniel Nava, who as usual did a good job of not bailing out a wild pitcher. While Shields was better against Ortiz, he still ended up surrendering a free pass to the designated hitter, putting two on and one out as Adrian Gonzalez stepped to the plate for the first time in a week. Trying to avoid another walk, Shields tried to bring a late-tailing fastball across the outside corner, but caught too much of the plate, allowing Gonzalez to slap it into left field for an RBI base hit.
Unfortunately, an inning that could have led to a crooked number stayed at just the one inning, as David Ortiz was thrown out at third trying to advance on the throw home, leaving Cody Ross' strikeout an inning-ender.
The Red Sox will have Adrian Gonzalez back in the lineup Sunday afternoon as they go for a series win against James Shields and the Rays. First pitch is at 1:40 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
After missing the first two games of the second half with back spasms, and despite originally being doubtful for today's match, Adrian Gonzalez will slot into the cleanup spot and play first base, giving the Red Sox one of the most impressive-looking lineups they've had in recent months.
Boston Red Sox (44-44)
Tampa Bay Rays (46-42)
The Red Sox fell to the Rays, 5-3 on Saturday night thanks to a late stumble from the pitching staff.
The Rays would get out to the early lead when they ended a back-and-forth pitchers' duel in the third by picking up a pair of leadoff singles and then pushing the lead runner around to score. The Sox would respond immediately in the fourth, however, when David Ortiz singled and Will Middlebrooks turned on a fastball in his wheelhouse for a two-run shot to left-center.
The lead would only last for one inning for Boston, with the Rays quickly striking back in the fifth after a leadoff double. Once again, however, the Sox would pull the lead right back as Cody Ross drew a one-out walk in the sixth, moved to second on a passed ball, third on a ground out, and home on an errant throw to third by David Price.
Clay Buchholz, meanwhile, had put together a very good game in his return from the disabled list, striking out eight batters while allowing just three hits and two runs through the first six. In the seventh, however, he seemed to tire, giving up a pair of free passes and a sacrifice bunt to start the inning before being pulled for Matt Albers.
While Albers has put together a season of strong results so far, he just wasn't locked in tonight. After an intentional walk put Hideki Matsui on first, an unintentional walk brought home the tying run, and a sacrifice fly was enough to make it 4-3. With a B.J. Upton homer adding on a run in the eighth, the Sox faced too large of a hole to climb out of. With Fernando Rodney recovering from a leadoff Mike Aviles single with a pair of strikeouts and a Daniel Nava fly ball, the Rays evened the series at 1-1.
|Final - 7.14.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||2||0||1||0||0||0||3||7||1|
|Tampa Bay Rays||0||0||1||0||1||0||2||1||X||5||5||1|
|WP: David Price (12 - 4)
SV: Fernando Rodney (26)
LP: Clay Buchholz (8 - 3)
Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox are out to make it two straight out of the gates in the second half as they take on David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Rays 5, Red Sox 3, End 8th -- A BJ Upton homer makes it a 2-run game headed to the ninth.
Rays 4, Red Sox 3, Mid 8th -- The Sox waste two more baserunners. A leadoff double from Ellsbury prompts a bump attempt from Pedro Ciriaco, but it goes back over the head of Molina, who turns and makes an excellent grab to waste the out for the Red Sox. A walk from David Ortiz makes it two on with one out, but with Joel Peralta in for David Price the Sox see both Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks fly out to end the threat.
Rays 4, Red Sox 3, End 7th -- And Buccholz' night comes to an unfortunate end as he tires late. A walk and hit-by-pitch put two men on before the Rays gift him an out with a sacrifice bunt. Matt Albers is called on to first intentionally walk Hideki Matsui, and then hopefully get outs.
Instead, he unintentionally walks Jose Lobaton to bring in the tying run, and surrenders a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3 in the late going. It's a good night for Buchholz on the whole, but with an unfortunate ending half his fault and half Albers'.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, Mid 7th -- The Sox go down in order in the seventh, leaving the lead at just the one run headed to the bottom half of the eighth.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, End 6th -- Carlos Pena strikes out, giving Clay Buchholz his eighth K of the night before a pair of ground balls see the team through to the seventh with the lead. It's a great return for Buchholz after his break, so long as he doesn't fall apart in the seventh. Given his 79 pitches, he'll probably at least get a few batters.
Red Sox 3, Rays 2, Mid 6th -- A one-out walk is all the Sox manage off of Price in the sixth, as the lefty does settle down this time around. Except that it ends up being good enough for a run, as a passed ball sends him to second, a ground ball moves him to third, and an errant throw to third from David Price lets him come home before Mike Aviles popped out to end the inning.
Red Sox 2, Rays 2, End 5th -- Where the Sox didn't manage to score with runners on first and second and zero outs, the Rays manage it after just a leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt and an error from Mike Aviles are enough to bring Jeff Keppinger home before Buchholz strikes out the last two batters to end the inning.
Red Sox 2, Rays 1, Mid 5th -- David Price doesn't exactly settle down in the fifth, but he still manages to escape with the tie intact. Leadoff baserunners in Kelly Shoppach (walk) and Brent Lillibridge (single) would go unrewarded despite Price managing not a single really solid out. Daniel Nava went down on a line drive, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single to load the bases. Another hard hit fliner to right still found Ben Zobrist's glove, and while the distance looked like enough to get the man home from third, Kelly Shoppach is not a fast runner. A strong throw reached home before Shoppach, and the Sox had their inning come to a disappointing end.
Red Sox 2, Rays 1, End 4th -- Clay bounces back from his third-inning troubles with a 1-2-3 fourth, with a Ben Zobrist pop-up being the best the Rays managed off the young righty. Otherwise, it was a pair of strikeouts for B.J. Upton and Luke Scott, leaving Clay with five on the night.
Red Sox 2, Rays 1 Mid 4th -- And just like that the Sox are on top. After a leadoff single from David Ortiz got the Sox their second hit of the game, Will Middlebrooks got an 0-2 fastball down and in and put a smooth swing on it, launching a two-run shot to left-center that gave the Sox the 2-1 lead.
Rays 1, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- A pair of singles is all it takes to put a run on the board against Buchholz thanks to their placement at the beginning of the third inning. The leadoff knocks come from Desmond Jennings and Jose Molina, putting runners on the corners without an out. While Clay managed to limit the damage to as little as could be hoped for, that both hits were line drives and all three outs came on long fly balls is not a terribly encouraging sign.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 3rd -- David Price goes back to the 1-2-3 inning in the third, sending Jacoby Ellsbury to 1-for-7 since his return with a not-terribly-dangerous fly ball to left field that ends the frame.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 2nd -- Clay Buchholz keeps right on rolling in the second, striking out BJ Upton with a mean fastball that tails back across the outside part of the plate before getting a pair of ground ball outs to short to end the inning.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 2nd -- The Red Sox grab their first baserunner of the game as Mike Aviles shoots a ground ball up the middle for a single, but the hit comes with two outs and Price manages to strike out Kelly Shoppach behind him to keep the Sox from making anything more out of it.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, End 1st -- Clay Buchholz seems to be rust-free after his esophagitis-induced layoff. After spotting the inside corner with a 1-2 pitch to strike out Elliot Johnson, Buchholz gets a lazy fly ball to shallow left for the second out, and finished up the inning by going back to the inside part of the plate against Ben Zobrist for another strikeout. That's two-per-side through the first.
Red Sox 0, Rays 0, Mid 1st -- Bad signs for the Red Sox and perhaps the game in general as David Price picks up a 1-2-3 inning in the first, striking out both Pedro Ciriaco and David Ortiz in the process.
While Price will certainly be happy with the results, there is reason to be concerned for how frustrating this game may end up for both teams, as home plate umpire Jeff Nelson rang up Ortiz on a 2-2 pitch that was right where he'd just called two balls. Inconsistency in the calls rarely helps to make a game enjoyable.
The Red Sox will once again be without Adrian Gonzalez as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays and David Price Saturday night.
While Gonzalez had been out before the All-Star Break with an illness, now it appears that the first baseman's back is acting up, leaving the Sox to turn to...
That's right. The man with a .388 OPS will be playing at one of the highest-offense positions in any team's lineup.
Otherwise the Sox will go with their righty-heavy lineup--or as much of it as they can still produce.
Boston Red Sox (44-43)
Tampa Bay Rays (45-42)
The Boston Red Sox were victors in the first game of the second half, taking a 3-1 win off of Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays to move above .500 once again.
The first run that scored off of Jeremy Hellickson was fairly typical, if a bit inexplicable. With Mauro Gomez on deck, two outs, and the bases empty in the first, Hellickson fell behind 3-0 to David Ortiz and then rather than just letting Ortiz take first tried to battle back. His first pitch caught a corner, his second caught the plate, and all of Ortiz' bat. Big Papi turned and flipped his bat dismissively as the ball sailed to the back rows in center field for a solo shot that put the Sox up early.
In the second, however, Hellickson was put in unfamiliar territory, and for once made to pay for bad pitching. After getting the first out of the inning fairly quickly, Hellickson walked the next two batters and hit Mike Aviles to load the bases with just one out. Up came Pedro Ciriaco, on one of the hottest streaks the Sox have seen in a long time average-wise, and quickly the Rays found themselves looking at a three-run deficit as the shortstop bounced a seeing-eye single up the middle, scoring two.
Franklin Morales, meanwhile, had worked around a Mauro Gomez error in the first caused amazingly enough by shoddy webbing on his glove that allowed a throw from third to pop through. The second and third would go more easily for Morales, with no baserunners reaching, but then with two outs in the fourth everything seemed to go wrong, with Morales completely losing control of the strike zone, surrendering three straight walks. Unlike Hellickson, however, Morales was able to stop the inning there, getting Luke Scott to chase a pair of high fastballs for the strikeout that ended the frame.
Morales would get through the fifth without surrendering a run before giving way to Scott Atchison, who should have had a clean outing but for a bad throw by Mike Aviles to turn an out into two bases to lead off the sixth. The Sox were able to get out of the frame allowing just the one, though they went through three pitchers to do so.
The seventh and eighth would pass without any scoring, but not without excitement. The seventh provided a big opportunity for the Red Sox, who had two on and one out for David Ortiz. Unfortunately, the Rays had learned their lesson in the first, and with Bobby Valentine inexplicably choosing to do a straight replacement of Mauro Gomez for Adrian Gonzalez in the cleanup spot before the game (Gonzalez was a late scratch), the Rays had an easy choice to make. The intentional walk loaded the bases, and Gomez once again failed to come through, grounding into a double play to leave the score at 3-1.
In the bottom of the eighth, it was the defense that was front-and-center. With Vicente Padilla coming out shaky and giving up a leadoff double, B.J. Upton seemed to have an RBI single to right when he laced a line drive in that direction in the next at-bat. Ryan Sweeney, however, had something to say about that, going into a slide and snagging the ball in the air before leaping to his feat and firing to third to catch Ben Zobrist as he tried to advance to third, shutting down the inning. With Alfredo Aceves able to record a 1-2-3 ninth, the Sox started the second half with a win.
The Red Sox are set to start the second half of the Rays, hoping that an increasingly healthy team will help propel them through a difficult stretch of games leading to the deadline.
The bad news for the Red Sox is that there's already been a bit of a wrench thrown into their plan, as Adrian Gonzalez is still not feeling at 100% and has been replaced in tonight's lineup by Mauro Gomez.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Tropicana Field.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Mid 9th -- The Sox squander a leadoff double from Mike Aviles, with Jacoby Ellsbury striking out with one down and Aviles at third before Cody Ross hit a fly ball to end the frame. They'll have to hold the two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1, End 8th -- Ryan Sweeney comes up huge in the eighth inning, saving the Red Sox at least a run and possibly a disaster inning. After a leadoff double from Ben Zobrist off of Vicente Padilla, B.J. Upton hits a line drive into right that seems destined to get down. Sweeney, however, has another story to tell, going into a slide and picking the ball cleanly in the air before surging to his feet and starting the relay to third to get Zobrist as he tried to tag up. An infield single prolongs the inning, but a strikeout of Sean Rodriguez sends things to the ninth.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Mid 8th -- Kyle Farnsworth has an easy time in the eighth, picking up a 1-2-3 inning and striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Sweeney to keep this game nice and close headed to the bottom of the eighth.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1, End 7th -- Watching Matt Albers this year has been surreal. He just throws, and guys get out. This isn't like 2011, where he pitched legitimately well for the first half and then fell apart. Instead, he's just kind of throwing balls over the plate and opposing batters are letting themselves fall behind, or hitting hard balls that end up in gloves.
After another 1-2-3 frame from him has brought the Sox to the eighth, I'm convinced he has surpassed baseball. He is playing on a different plane. He understands the hitters, he knows their motivations and their dreams, and he convinces them to simply not succeed.
However he does it, though, this team will take the outs gladly.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Mid 7th -- A large chance goes by the wayside for the Red Sox, and once again it's Mauro Gomez who simply should not be hitting cleanup.
The Sox get off to a quick start in the seventh thanks to who else but Pedro Ciriaco? Adding to his resume of one seeing-eye and one infield single, Ciriaco bloops one between three fielders to reach for the third time tonight. With Hellickson now out of the game, Jacoby Ellsbury squeezes a ground ball through the right side for a single of his own, and while Daniel Nava strikes out swinging, the Rays again elect to intentionally walk David Ortiz, loading the bases for Mauro Gomez. It only takes three pitches, however, for the replacement infielder to ground out to Jeff Keppinger, who starts the inning-ending double play.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1, End 6th -- The Rays get one back with Scott Atchison in the game thanks to a poor throw from Mike Aviles.
The mistake comes against the first batter of the inning, with Aviles letting Ben Zobrist reach second by throwing well over the head of Mauro Gomez at first. Atchison manages to get the next two outs by knocking down a comebacker and striking out Jeff Keppinger with a great pitch that dots the outside corner, but can't quite escape unscathed, as a Sean Rodriguez ground ball shot down the third base line goes for two bases and the RBI.
Bobby Valentine elects to go to Andrew Miller despite the fact that Atchison was actually throwing pretty well, and the result is an infield single, prompting him to turn to Matt Albers, leaving the Sox with scant few pen options. Albers does the job, however, getting Jennings to look inexplicably at waist-high strikes before chasing a third fastball low for the strikeout.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, Mid 6th -- Jeremy Hellickson works around a one-out single dumped into right-center by Jarrod Saltalamacchia to earn his fourth straight scoreless inning since falling behind 3-0 out of the gate. The Sox probably would've hoped for more after that start, but at least for now they'll gladly take the three-run lead in a low-scoring game.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, End 5th -- A one-out double serves to once again put Franklin Morales under pressure, but the young lefty bounces back in a big way, striking out both Elliot Johnson and Carlos Pena to end the threat.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, Mid 5th -- Jeremy Hellickson gets out of another inning, but not without some trouble this time around. A leadoff infield single for Pedro Ciriaco is erased by Jacoby Ellsbury, who grounds into a double play in what is becoming an increasingly forgettable return game. Still, with two outs Hellickson walks Daniel Nava, then gives David Ortiz some serious respect by intentionally walking him with the man already on first. The unonventional move pays off, however, as Mauro Gomez grounds out to end the frame.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, End 4th -- Franklin Morales seems to completely lose it in the fourth, but still manages to emerge unscathed thanks in large part to one Luke Scott.
While the first two outs come without any difficulty for Morales, facing the next three batters he just can't find the zone. Falling behind 2-1 to the first two batters and then 3-0 to Sean Rodriguez, Morales offers up three straight walks to load the bases with Scott coming to the plate. There, the Tampa DH decides to help Morales out, offering at a high fastball to turn a possible 3-1 count into a 2-2. Two pitches later, and Morlaes goes right back up high, striking Scott out to end the inning without damage.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, Mid 4th -- The bottom half of the lineup provides Hellickson with no more challenge than the top half. Since getting knocked around in the second, Hellickson has retired eight straight batters to quiet the Sox.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, End 3rd -- Another 1-2-3 inning has Franklin Morales into the fourth with just one hit against him. His pitch count isn't exactly low given the limited damage, but it's certainly a lot healthier than Hellickson's, and he's on pace to go into the seventh, which is about all the Sox can hope for right now.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, Mid 3rd -- The Rays will be happy to see that Hellickson is finding his stride. While he struggled heavily with his control in the second, he finds a rather generous strike zone with regularity in the third, throwing 9-of-14 pitches for strikes, getting a pair of Ks on Mauro Gomez and Will Middlebrooks in a 1-2-3 frame.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, End 2nd -- Franklin Morales enjoys a 1-2-3 second, striking out Sean Rodriguez and getting a pop-up from Luke Scott to end the frame in much cleaner fashion than the first.
Red Sox 3, Rays 0, Mid 2nd -- For once, Jeremy Hellickson is being held accountable for his walks. After getting Will Middlebrooks looking at strike three, Hellickson surrenders three baserunners with a pair of walks and a hit batter in Mike Aviles to load the bases. Once again put in position to build his sudden and surprising reputation for clutch performances, Pedro Ciriaco came to the plate and took advantage, bouncing a seeing-eye single over the bag at second to score two for the Sox.
Red Sox 1, Rays 0, End 1st -- The Sox are made to endure some tense moments in the first. After an easy ground ball and strikeout gave Franklin Morales two outs, the Rays got a baserunner on a Ben Zobrist double down the line in left, and while a ground ball to Will Middlebrooks seemed ready to end things, Mauro Gomez could not catch the throw, with the ball apparently breaking through the loose or weak webbing on his glove. It's one of the stranger errors you'll ever see, but luckily not a costly one, as Morales quickly picked B.J. Upton off to end the inning.
Red Sox 1, Rays 0, Mid 1st -- David Ortiz helps the Sox get the second half started on the right foot. After a couple of quick outs from Daniel Nava and the returning Jacoby Ellsbury, who hit a bit of a soft liner to left that ended up in Desmond Jennings' glove. Ortiz would get ahead in the count 3-0, and with only Gomez behind him it seemed like pitching around him made too much sense. Hellickson, however, had other ideas, getting the call on a borderline strike one before challenging Ortiz with pitch five.
Big mistake. Papi took a huge swing, then turned and flipped his bat almost dismissively as the ball sailed into the back rows in dead center to make it 1-0, Red Sox.
It's been three months since the Red Sox had Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup. Finally, they'll have him back, as the center fielder leads off against Jeremy Hellickson and the Tampa Bay Rays. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST, with broadcasts on NESN, the MLB Network, and WEEI.
It was, of course, the Rays who first knocked Jacoby Ellsbury out for three months. Attempting to break up a double play, Ellsbury had Reid Brignac come down hard on his shoulder on April 13, sending him to the disabled list for the rest of the first half.
Now, on another Friday the 13th, the Sox are hoping that it will be bad luck for the Rays and an opportunity to turn their season around. With only 18 games between now and August 1st, they have little time to prove themselves worthy of further investment.
Jacoby Ellsbury is not the only returning player, however. Will Middlebrooks will also be making his way back into the lineup after being held out of the last two series with a nagging hamstring injury. He'll bat fifth and play third, sending Mauro Gomez back to the bench. The Sox may miss his bat (though perhaps not in comparison to Middlebrooks), but it will be good to feel safer defensively at the hot corner.
Boston Red Sox (43-43)
Tampa Bay Rays (45-41)
Needing to make a roster transaction Friday to clear space for the return of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the Boston Red Sox have designated pitcher Justin Germano for assignment, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported.
Germano tore it up in his Red Sox debut on July 7, allowing zero runs while striking out seven in 5.2 innings of a relief appearance against the New York Yankees. The 29-year old righty has also dominated Triple-A this season, notching a 9-4 record with a 2.40 ERA in 17 appearances (16 starts) at Pawtucket.
But with a full pitching rotation and Ellsbury returning, Germano was a victim of circumstance. Ellsbury, second in A.L. MVP voting last season, is expected to return Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. He hasn't played since suffering a shoulder injury on April 13.
The Red Sox will have Jacoby Ellsbury back Friday night as they start the second half of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Boston Red Sox head to St. Petersburg as they start the second half of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
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