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Not every athlete is cut out to play in Boston, and Carl Crawford just may be one of those players. Over a year into the Crawford experiment with the Red Sox, there have been plenty of questions about his ability to mentally survive in Boston.
The Red Sox were run out of Fenway Park Sunday afternoon in a 15-7 beatdown at the hands of the Jays.
The man who will rightfully take the lion's share of the blame is the man the Sox were depending on to come out of his season-long funk when they needed him the most: Jon Lester. Instead of responding to the desperate circumstances, however, Lester simply crumbled.
The very first pitch of the game would be taken out of the park, and the Jays were off to the races. A walk, a bunt single to Nick Punto, and a sharp line drive to right that hopped up into the seats put two men on with another run in. J.P. Arencibia would make it 3-0 with an RBI ground out, and Rajai Davis 4-0 by doubling to left.
The Sox would strike back in the bottom of the first, providing this game with one of a sparse few silver linings when Adrian Gonzalez went deep to right with two runners on to make it a two-run game. That was as close as the Sox would get, however, and it would not last long. Lester would walk two in the second before allowing back-to-back homers, leaving all the Sox' deficit one run larger for all their efforts.
The scoring would take a short hiatus until the ninth, when Lester was finally chased after his fifth walk, fourth homer, and tenth and eleventh runs allowed on the night. Junichi Tazawa entered, and finally started recording outs, taking the Sox all the way to the eighth without allowing anything else to come in.
The Sox, meanwhile, got a few back, scoring once when Jacoby Ellsbury hit his first homer of the season, and then picking up two more after Rajai Davis lost a two-out fly ball in the sun field, allowing Ryan Sweeney to reach and extending the inning long enough for hits from Mike Aviles and Nick Punto to make it 11-7.
Unfortunately, all hopes of a rally would be extinguished by one unlucky eighth for Mark Melancon, who saw the bases loaded on an infield single, a ground ball past the bag at third, a sacrifice bunt gone for a hit, and a weak flair into right. Without allowing any really solid contact, Melancon was tagged for four big ones, putting the Red Sox in a hopelessly deep hole with too few innings left to recover.
Blue Jays 15, Red Sox 7, Mid 9th -- Alfredo Aceves gets some work in in a meaningless top of the ninth.
Blue Jays 15, Red Sox 7, End 8th -- The Sox will at least let us get on with our day's as soon as possible, it seems. A 1-2-3 eighth drives home the fact that this one is over.
Blue Jays 15, Red Sox 7, Mid 8th -- Any hope for a late rally evaporates with a tough-luck eighth. Though Mark Melancon offers up the sort of result on the scoreboard he became all too familiar with in the beginning of the year, this time it comes on cheap stuff that he can't really do much about. An infield single to short, a ground ball just barely fair past the third base bag and a bunt load the bases before a run is recorded. A weak flair to right is about the hardest hit ball of the inning, and it, too, goes for a hit, bringing two runs in to score. Matt Albers comes in to give up a single and sacrifice fly before ending the inning with four new runs on the board.
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 7, End 7th -- Hopes for a completion of the comeback are made significantly dimmer as the 2-3-4 part of the lineup goes 1-2-3 in the seventh. Have they run out of steam?
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 7, Mid 7th -- These scoreless innings (replete with five strikeouts) from Tazawa not only serve to keep the Sox at least slightly alive, but also show that it really was just Lester being terrible in the first five frames. Not that there was much doubt, but it really drives the point home.
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 7, End 6th -- Thanks to a little luck, the Red Sox are actually not too far out of this one through six innings. While the first two outs came quickly enough, and Ryan Sweeney didn't do much to avoid the third, his fly ball happened to go to the sun field, and Rajai Davis simply couldn't find it, allowing Sweeney to make it to second. With both Mike Aviles and Nick Punto going to the wall in left behind him, the Sox produce a couple of runs and make it a four-score game with three frames to go.
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 5, Mid 6th -- Junichi Tazawa picks up his second straight scoreless inning--an achievement which automatically qualifies him for a chance to take Lester's rotation spot for at least a few weeks, I'd think.
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 5, End 5th -- The Sox get another silver lining to the game in the form of a leadoff shot from Jacoby Ellsbury--a high rocket to dead center that drops right around where Travis Snider's ended up in the top half of the inning. It's not a big dent in this deficit, but Ellsbury showing the power swing that made him so valuable last year is a very positive sign.
Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 4, Mid 5th -- If you didn't see this coming...The Sox score three in the first, Lester offers up four in the second. The Sox score one in the fourth, Lester offers up two in the fifth. A career-high fifth walk allowed gives the Jays yet another leadoff baserunner, and two pitches later Travis Snider takes Lester deep onto the batter's eye in center field. Junichi Tazawa manages to mop the inning up behind him, and will hopefully be able to record some fast outings and keep the bullpen fresh.
Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 4, End 4th -- The Red Sox manage to load the bases with one out on hits from Adrian Gonzalez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a walk from Ryan Sweeney. Mike Aviles almost looks set to continue the rally, but Rajai Davis is able to track down his line drive to right field, turning what could have even been extra bases into just a sacrifice fly, which is all the Sox manage as Nick Punto grounds weakly to second.
Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 3, Mid 4th -- Much like in the third, the first batter reaches--this time on a crushed wall ball single the likes of which only Fenway can produce--but Jon Lester is able to get out of trouble (this time with two on after a walk) thanks to a double play that ends the inning.
Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 3, End 3rd -- Unfortunately, Alvaez is able to respond with his second 1-2-3 frame to keep the Red Sox back six. Jacoby Ellsbury at least fought through a long, 13-pitch AB, but good battles are small comfort trailing by six.
Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 3, Mid 3rd -- Another missed location leads to another leadoff baserunner against Jon Lester, as Jeff Mathis lines a single into left field. For once, though, Lester buckles down, getting a pop-up behind short that Mike Aviles covers a lot of ground to make the play on and a ground ball up the middle that the Red Sox are able to turn two on. One way or another, that's three batters to the inning.
Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 3, End 2nd -- Unlike Jon Lester, Henderson Alvarez manages to settle down in the second inning, needing just 12 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 frame.
Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 3, Mid 2nd -- Has anyone told Jon Lester he's not in competition with Boston's offense? After being given three runs back, Lester one-ups his lineup by surrendering four in a pathetic fourth inning effort. After allowing a pair of walks around a sacrifice bunt and fly ball out, Lester gets right back on the homer train. A bad changeup to Rajai Davis quickly finds its way into the Monster seats, completely undoing the three-run contribution from Adrian Gonzalez, and six pitches later it's Rajai Davis taking a high fastball to left for a solo shot that makes it a ridiculous 9-3 in the second inning.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 3, End 1st -- The offense at least seems interested in making this into a real game. An infield single from Jacoby Ellsbury and ground ball through the left side off the bat of Dustin Pedroia set the table for Adrian Gonzalez with one out. After fouling off a couple of offerings, Gonzalez got a fastball low over the plate and turned on it, crushing a no-doubter of his own a good few rows deep past the bullpens in left field. The power is surging, but the Sox still trail by two.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Facing arguably their most must-win game of the year, needing Jon Lester to be good, the Red Sox get nothing from their one-time ace in the first. Instead, the southpaw hit a new low in the first, allowing a no-doubt homer over everything in left to Brett Lawrie on the very first pitch of the game. Things did not get much better from there. A walk, a bunt single to Nick Punto, and a sharp line drive to right that hopped up into the seats put two men on with another run in. J.P. Arencibia would make it 3-0 with an RBI ground out, and Rajai Davis 4-0 by doubling to left.
Amazingly, Lester even managed to record a third strike swinging to Travis Snider without picking up an out, his curveball getting far enough away from Jarrod Saltalamacchia that Snider was able to reach at first. This let Jeff Mathis step to the plate with two outs to work with, freeing him up to drop a safety squeeze down to bring another run in and put the Sox in an early five-run hole.
The Red Sox will be without the services of Carl Crawford and Will Middlebrooks as they try to salvage a game from a lost series against the Blue Jays Sunday afternoon. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
It's an inopportune time to be without a pair of starters. Having lost the first two games of the series, producing precious little in the way of offense, the Sox can ill-afford to head into their series against the Rangers and Yankees at .500 having been swept by the Blue Jays. This was where they were supposed to build their cushion. Instead they might just be digging their own grave.
The Sox will have Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup to make up for the losses, and Daniel Nava has been a strong replacement against righties, but having Nick Punto at third is cold comfort, and the way things are going right now, the Sox are going to want to put all the offense they can get behind Jon Lester.
Boston Red Sox (48-47)
Toronto Blue Jays (47-47)
The Red Sox jumped out to an early 3-0 lead behind the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. In the top of the second inning, the catcher hit a three-run homer, scoring first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and designated hitter Cody Ross.
The Blue Jays responded in the top of the third inning, when third baseman Brett Lawrie hit a sacrifice fly that scored second baseman Kelly Johnson. But Red Sox starting pitcher Aaron Cook regained his composure, making it out of the inning and allowing no runs in the fourth or fifth.
In the sixth inning, however, Toronto struck again, tying the game at 3-3 after a two-run shot by first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. An inning later, the Blue Jays took control of the game, tacking on three more runs to go up 6-3. The Blue Jays added another run in the top of the ninth when Rajai Davis scored off a fielder's choice. Aaron Cook was pulled after 6.1 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits. He took the loss to fall to 2-3 overall.
The Red Sox mustered five hits in the game, three of which came in the second inning when Boston put up three runs.
The loss drops Boston to 48-47 on the season, while Toronto improves to 47-47. Shortly before the start of the game, Boston honored former catcher Jason Varitek with a video tribute showing his highlights with the team.
The final game of the series between the Red Sox and Blue Jays will be played Sunday at 1:35 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Boston Red Sox will be looking to square the series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night at Fenway Park. With David Ortiz and Jose Bautista out of the lineup for their respective teams, the orders have been predictably shaken up a bit and will be for the foreseeable future.
Without further adieu, Saturday's lineups:
Boston Red Sox
1) Daniel Nava, RF
2) Carl Crawford, LF
3) Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5) Cody Ross, DH
6) Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
7) Will Middlebrooks, 3B
8) Ryan Sweeney, CF
9) Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Toronto Blue Jays
1) Anthony Gose, RF
2) Brett Lawrie, 3B
3) Colby Rasmus, CF
4) Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
5) Adam Lind, DH
6) J.P. Arencibia, C
7) Kelly Johnson, 2B
8) Yunel Escobar, SS
9) Travis Snider, LF
The Red Sox come into the game trailing the New York Yankees by 9.5 games in the AL East while being just two games back of the final wild card spot.
Aaron Cook will be the man on the mound for Boston. The 33-year-old pitched splendidly in his last outing, going seven innings and only allowing one unearned run against the Chicago White Sox in a no-decision. Overall Cook has been effective with a season ERA of 3.34.
Villanueva has appeared in 25 games this year, but Saturday marks only his fourth start. The Dominican is undefeated with a 4-0 mark, and has a sterling 2.68 ERA. In his two July starts, Villanueva is yet to surrender a run in 12 innings, winning both of the games.
If Boston is going to force a rubber game on Sunday, it'll have to break through against the youngster.
Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
The Red Sox offense was held in check for a second straight game, but with no late savior arriving this time, the Sox fell 6-1 to the Blue Jays.
Unlike Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett wasn't up to the task of competing in a pitchers' duel. After a leadoff strikeout, Beckett quickly allowed a triple to Colby Rasmus. A ground ball to Will Middlebrooks actually should have saved a run as the third baseman fired home and Kelly Shoppach threw down an excellent block at the plate, keeping Rasmus from ever making contact. Unfortunately, the umpire did not see it the same way, calling him safe and giving the Jays an undeserved run.
Still, Beckett would not have been able to hold the runs out either way. A pair of ground ball singles came before the next out, bringing the runner in from first who would have been there either way. After a bottom of the first which involved only an infield single off of Aaron Laffey, Boston's starter quickly found himself in trouble again. A leadoff double was nearly kept away from home after a ground ball and a strikeout, but Beckett walked Anthony Gose after getting ahead 0-2, and then surrendered a two-run double into the gap in left.
Beckett would finally settle down after finding himself in a 4-0 hole, but things didn't get much better for the Sox against Laffey. Picking up only singles, and never clumping more than two in an inning, Laffey would escape inning after inning without giving up a run. Beckett provided scoreless innings into the fifth, when an error cost him an unearned one, eventually pitching through the sixth. Had it not been for the unearned run and umpire-given run, he actually would've left with a quality start.
No matter how well he pitched, however, the Sox weren't going to back him up with anything. Laffey would complete seven scoreless--the second straight night a starter has done that to the team. Mark Melancon would end up finally surrendering another run in the ninth after pitching a scoreless eighth, and while the Red Sox managed to push one across in the ninth, it was just the one, leaving it 6-1 Blue Jays at the end of the night.
|Final - 7.20.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Toronto Blue Jays||2||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||6||9||0|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||9||1|
|WP: Aaron Laffey (2 - 1)
LP: Josh Beckett (5 - 8)
The Red Sox and Blue Jays are set to kick off their three-game set Friday night as Josh Beckett takes on Aaron Laffey.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, End 8th -- Two straight games starting with eight scoreless innings is not a good sign for the Red Sox, who are looking like they're ready for another one of their downward slides. They were saved from the loss last night by Cody Ross, but five runs is a rather larger deficit to overcome, and two straight nights of offensive ineptitude of this level are reminiscent of the bad run against the Nationals and out west.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, Mid 8th -- Mark Melancon ends up giving up a one-out walk, but quickly induces a double play off the bat of Kelly Johnson to give himself another scoreless inning post-return.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, End 7th -- So of course they don't score in the seventh. Even giving up leadoff singles from Will Middlebrooks and Mike Aviles, Aaron Laffey manages to get a strikeout, ground out, and pop-up to end things both in the inning, and possibly in the game.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, Mid 7th -- Andrew Miller comes into the game and records a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out Anthony Gose to get it started. The Sox are getting into the territory where they need to score in every inning to really have a chance.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, End 6th -- Another single is good. No runs is bad. The Red Sox story.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, Mid 6th -- Josh Beckett gets through the sixth around a walk. Not counting the unearned run and the umpire's mistake, he has that "quality start."
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, End 5th -- For the second straight night the Sox are through the fifth without a run. They don't have much more to show against Laffey than they did against Quintana, either, with just six singles to their names after a Kelly Shoppach single.
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0, Mid 5th -- An errant throw from Will Middlebrooks turns a one-out ground ball into two bases and, after a bloop falls into center, a run.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 0, End 4th -- The Sox provide Laffey with another 1-2-3 frame, though this time it comes with a double play courtesy of Will Middlebrooks.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 0, Mid 4th -- Josh Beckett enjoys his best inning of the night, striking out two batters in another 1-2-3 inning. Perhaps the goal now can be a would-have-been quality start but for the efforts of the umpire.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- The Red Sox are up to four hits on the night now, and one even escaped the infield! But with Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia flying out behind them, the Sox are still scoreless.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- Beckett finally enjoys a scoreless inning, and finished it off in 1-2-3 fashion, no less. Once again the starter shows up to the game an inning or two late. Same ol', same ol' for the Sox.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 0, End 2nd -- Also on the list of things the Sox did not need: a 1-2-3 inning. Unfortunately that's what they were stuck with in the second. It's not a comforting sight after being shut down for eight innings last night.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- This time the fault lies with Josh Beckett and nobody else. A leadoff double off the wall in left, after all, can hardly be blamed on an umpire. While Beckett picked up a ground out and strikeout to make it two down with a man on third, he would walk Anthony Gose after getting ahead 0-2, and then surrendered another double to left to make it 4-0. Not what the Sox needed.
Blue Jays 2, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- Carl Crawford runs out another infield single to give the Sox a runner in the first, but Dustin Pedroia remains hitless and Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to first behind him to leave the Sox unable to gain back any ground in the first.
Blue Jays 2, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- It's another costly first inning for the Red Sox, but they've partially got a man in black to blame for that. After a one-out triple put Colby Rasmus at third, Edwin Encarnacion grounded sharply enough to third that Will Middlebrooks felt comfortable throwing home. Kelly Shoppach threw down the block, grabbed the throw, and then made sure the tag was down after the umpire hesitated to make the call.
Except he still called him safe. Despite replays showing that Shoppach had clearly blocked the plate completely and kept Rasmus from ever touching it, and despite the umpire for some reason waiting until well after the play at the plate had actually gone by, the call was still safe.
The second run would come in to score when a weak ground ball found its way through the right side of the infield, and a sharper one found the hole on the left side. Those are at least partially on Beckett, but the first run never should have come across.
The Red Sox will kick off their series against the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night with their third straight game against a left-handed pitcher--namely Aaron Laffey. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
The Sox have had very different results against the first two lefties they faced in and Pedro Hernandez and Jose Quintana, dominating the former and being shut down by the latter. Both games ended with the Red Sox celebrating, however, and with there being no real question as to who should and should not be batting against left-handed pitchers, the Sox are set to stand pat with their lineup, simply switching the order of Mike Aviles and Kelly Shoppach in the seventh and eighth spots.
Boston Red Sox (48-45)
Toronto Blue Jays (45-47)
The Red Sox are out to improve on their 5-2 start to the second half of the season as they welcome the Toronto Blue Jays into Fenway Park.
Despite six of the nine games between these two teams having been played in Toronto, the Sox currently hold a 5-4 advantage in the series, taking each of the last two series 2-1. The bad news is that after both series the Sox would enter prolonged slumps, going 1-7 starting with the loss in the final game of the first series, and then dealing with the awful West Coast trip and Yankees series (3-8 in total) after the second.
Hopefully this time they can replicate just the first part of that. Or maybe the secret to keeping momentum is to sweep the Jays? Either one would suit the club and the fans just fine, and with the Jays suddenly suffering from injuries everywhere and the Sox finally approaching full health, now could be the time.
Friday, July 20, 7:10 p.m. EST
Josh Beckett (5-7, 4.44 ERA) vs. Aaron Laffey (1-1, 3.38 ERA)
There are two ways to look at Josh Beckett's last start: a textbook quality start against the Tampa Bay Rays. One is that he recovered from early difficulties to provide the team with six solid innings of work that helped them to a 7-3 win over their division rivals.
The other is that he allowed three runs in just six innings of work against a team he has traditionally dominated and which has all of zero intimidating bats in the lineup. Taken in the context of six mediocre weeks, it doesn't look terribly good. The Blue Jays have a better lineup than Tampa, after all, and if Beckett wants to keep the good pitching rolling from Buchholz' gem, he'll have to throw the ball better and more consistently than he did against the Rays.
Aaron Laffey will be the third straight lefty to get a crack at the Sox. The question is: will he end up like Jose Quintana, who dominated the Sox for eight innings, or Pedro Hernandez, who's currently sporting an 18.00 ERA after his first major league game. If history tells us anything, it's that he'll be more Quintana than Hernandez. Laffey's one start against Boston is remarkably similar to Quintana's: six shutout innings, three hits, no walks, two strikeouts. Two fewer innings, two fewer hits, everything else the same. The good news for the Sox is that now they've seen him, which can mean all the difference when it comes to hitting a young southpaw.
Saturday, July 21, 7:10 p.m. EST
Aaron Cook (2-2, 3.34 ERA) vs. Carlos Villanueva (4-0, 2.68 ERA)
Aaron Cook is on an unbelievable (and likely unsustainable) roll. Having allowed just five earned runs in 27 innings since his return from injury, Cook has earned his spot in the rotation and then some, holding the White Sox down for seven frames in his last appearance. While it's true that Cook isn't about to maintain a 1.67 ERA over his next four outings, he's doing things his way--almost to the point where he's become a caricature of himself. Two strikeouts and one walk are all he's got in those 27 innings, with an amazing 61 outs coming on the ground. If he can keep that up, then the Sox' strong defensive infield should be able to keep him in good shape ERA-wise.
Carlos Villanueva is Cook's polar opposite, with more than 10 strikeouts and nearly five walks per nine innings. So far it's a style that's worked well for him, but those peripherals get a fair bit worse against lefties. With the Sox capable of loading their outfield with lefties that love to hit righties, they might take the opportunity to feast after going against lefty after lefty.
Sunday, July 22, 1:35p.m. EST
Jon Lester (5-7, 4.80 ERA) vs. Henderson Alvarez (5-7, 4.29 ERA)
It's an odd situation the Sox find themselves in where Jon Lester is the worst they have to offer rotation-wise. After two ugly starts against the Yankees and White Sox, Boston has been left wondering what's happened to their one-time ace. No longer can Lester blame good pitches getting hit and bad luck--now he's just started throwing meatballs. It's time for Lester to start earning his spot in the rotation, because with options like Franklin Morales being sent to the bullpen it's getting harder to take his collapses.
Henderson Alvarez, on the other hand, has put together two of his best starts this year over his last three games. His last outing,against New York, wasgood for six solid innings of two-run ball while the Angels could manage just one run in seven innings. That's two good teams held low after seven games of allowing at least three earned runs a piece. Two of those games, however, came against the Red Sox, who have put up eight earned runs in 17 innings against the young hurler over the course of the year now. Add in the five earned he allowed to Kansas City in between, and it's pretty clear he's not invlunerable. Can the Sox outpace the Jays against Lester, however? Hard to say.
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