Rays - 002 100 002 - 5 12 1Jason Bay's two-run home run to left in the eighth gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead and it looked like Boston would move into first place in the East once Jonathan Papelbon disposed of the Rays in the ninth.
Red Sox - 100 100 020 - 4 6 1
But leadoff hitter (and pinch-hitter) Dan Johnson cranked a 3-2 pitch over the Red Sox bullpen in right-center for a game-tying home run. Then, with one out, Fernando Perez doubled high off the Monster and Dioner Navarro doubled into the left field corner to give Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead. (Where's Bot's splitter?)
In the home half of the ninth, Troy Percival walked Mark Kotsay. Jason Varitek tried in vain to bunt, and was then frozen on a nasty 1-2 curveball for the first out. Percival fell behind David Ortiz 3-1 -- was he pitching around him? -- before Flo flew out to right field. Terry Francona then sent Jacoby Ellsbury in to pinch-run for Kotsay at first. Why didn't Tito do this as soon as Kotsay walked? With no outs or two outs, Ellsbury was the potential tying run -- and giving him an opportunity to run with Varitek and Ortiz at the plate would have been wise.
With Coco Crisp at the plate and two outs, Lyndon did run -- stealing second easily and going to third when Navarro's throw short-hopped into center field. Alas, Crisp ended the game by popping out to second base.
The Twins beat the Royals 7-2 to move 6 GB the Red Sox in the wild card. The Blue Jays swept a day-night doubleheader from the White Sox 3-1 and 8-2.
With Toronto 7 GB Boston in the wild card race with 18 games to play, the Canadian sports media will insist that the Jays, with seven games remaining against the Red Sox, have a decent shot at the post-season. It's sad to see such rampant delusion go untreated -- in a country with universal health care, no less.
Scott Kazmir (2.99, 144 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.88, 157 ERA+)
The Red Sox have won 10 of their last 13 games and a win tonight could put them into first place for the first time since the All-Star Game. The three-day break was the only time Boston has been atop the AL East since June 28.
Coco Crisp has had six consecutive multi-hit games, during which time he has batted .682 (15-for-22), with a .720 OBP. In his last 13 starts, Crisp is hitting .531 (26-for-49).
At the same time, Jacoby Ellsbury continues to slump -- .232/.305/.305 since August 10, and a .327 OBP and .690 OPS for the season. Lyndon's OPS+ this season (79) is roughly the same as Jason Varitek's (78) and Julio Lugo's (80).
In his two starts against Boston this season (May 4 and July 2), Kazmir has pitched a total of nine innings: 13 hits, seven walks and eight runs.
Blue Jays/White Sox at 2
Blue Jays/White Sox at 8
Royals/Twins at 8
Yankees/Angels at 10
Rays 85 57 --- Magic #
Red Sox 85 58 0.5 20
Blue Jays 76 66 9.0 12
Yankees 76 68 10.0 10
Orioles 64 78 21.0 E
Red Sox 85 58 --- Magic #
Twins 78 65 7.0 13
Blue Jays 76 66 8.5 12
Yankees 76 68 9.5 10