Red Sox - 000 002 006 - 8 11 0If the Red Sox get hot and finally start playing the way we know they can and go deep into October, we should look back on this game -- and, specifically, the ninth inning -- as a catalyst.
Rangers - 200 001 100 - 4 9 0
Down by two runs and facing Frank Francisco in the top of the ninth, David Ortiz got things started. Flo was batting in the #7 spot for the first time since May 2003. He had walked his first two times up, then drilled a two-run homer to right-center to tie the game at 2-2 in the sixth. Tiz looked at a ball from Francisco, then lined a double into the right field corner.
Jason Varitek, after getting ahead 3-0, grounded a full-count pitch to second. Omar Vizquel went to his right and attempted an off-balance throw. It was low and Tek beat it out, with Ortiz taking third. Jacoby Ellsbury singled up the middle, scoring Ortiz. Boston trailed 4-3.
Chris Woodward, who had taken over at shortstop in the seventh, tried two half-assed bunt attempts before striking out. Having failed to advance the runners, Terry Francona put Clay Buchholz in to pinch-run for Varitek. We've heard a few times that Laptop is one of the fastest runners on the team, and now he represented the tying run.
Dustin Pedroia crushed a 1-1 pitch to deep left field. I thought it was gone, but it hit off the wall, beyond David Murphy's leap. Buchholz was between second and third and seemed to have trouble seeing the ball against the different coloured lights of the scoreboard on the wall. He hesitated, then took off once he saw the ball had not been caught. However, that hesitation, and a stumble around third, cost him as he was cut down at the plate. (Happy 25th birthday, Clay.)
With one out to go, Victor Martinez was up with Lyndon at third and FY at second. He feel behind 1-2, fouled off two pitches, then checked his swing for ball 3 (whew!). After another foul, he doubled to right. Both runners scored and Boston led for the first time in the game, 5-4. Jason Bay singled to right and Martinez scored. Four pitches later, J.D. Drew hit a two-run home run to right center and it was 8-4.
Francisco was finally pulled (8 batters, 7 hits, 6 runs) and Jason Jennings came in. He walked Mike Lowell and got Ortiz to pop to third.
Jonathan Papelbon allowed a one-out double to Vizquel, but struck out Michael Young and Marlon Byrd to end the game, giving the Red Sox a 1.5-game lead over Texas in the wild card standings.
Lester (6-6-3-3-11, 117) had a bad first two batters. Vizquel walked and Young cranked a dong, and after only seven pitches, Lester trailed 2-0. But he worked out of his other jams. He got double play grounders in the second and third. After walking the first two Rangers in the fourth, he struck out the next three. In the sixth, after Ortiz had tied the game, Lester allowed a double and a single to give Texas a 3-2 lead. But again, he finished that inning by striking out the side. Lester struck out more than 10 batters for the sixth time this season, the most ever for a Red Sox left-hander.
The Yankees scored two in the top of the ninth to beat Seattle 4-2 and stay 6.5 GA of the Red Sox in the East.
Jon Lester (3.67, 128 ERA+) / Kevin Millwood (3.38, 133 ERA+)
The Red Sox have a slim 0.5-game lead over Texas in the wild card standings. Boston trails the Yankees in the East by 6.5 games. Lester gets the series started tonight, with Brad Penny and Junichi Tazawa following over the weekend.
In the SoSH game thread, they are offering some Shakespeare Mojo:
Alas, poor Varitek! I knew him, Martinez: a fellowHowBoutDemSox
of infinite jest, of most excellent captaincy: he hath
borne the Sox on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! His bat whiffs at
it. Here hung those curveballs he had hit I know
not how oft. Where be your might now? Your
contact? Your swings? Your flashes of power,
that were wont to set the crowd on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your old Heidi? Quite cap-fallen?
Now get you to Lester's chamber, and tell him paint
the corners an inch thick, to this favour he must
come; make them swing at that.
To score runs, or not to score runs: that is the question:Sprowl
Whether 'tis better in the loss column to suffer
The GIDP and Ks of terrible offense,
Or to take action against some slumping veterans,
And by benching, end them? To sit: to rest;
No more; and by a sit to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That PED-inflated muscle tone is heir to, 'tis a lineup
Devoutly to be wish'd.
Not that I think you did not love the Red Sox;10 PM: Yankees/Mariners.
But that I know love is begun by time;
And that I see, in trade deadline deals,
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
There lives within the very flame of trade
A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
And no prospect is at a like goodness still;
For pitching, growing to a surfeit,
Dies in its own too much. That we would do
We should do when we would; for this "would" changes
And hath abatements and delays as many
As there are Gonzalez, Halladay, Hernandez
And then this "should" is like a depreciating prospect,
That hurts by failing. But, to the wild card race —
Texas comes back: what would you undertake,
To bring us a competent shortstop in deed
More than in words?