Red Sox - 010 100 001 - 3 11 0 Orioles - 010 014 00x - 6 8 1Robert Andino's three-run inside-the-park home run with two outs in the sixth broke the game open. Jacoby Ellsbury tracked the ball all the way to the wall in straightaway center and had caught it, but his collision with the wall knocked it loose. Dazed, Ellsbury flipped the ball to J.D. Drew, who fired it into the infield; the relay to the plate was too late.
Tampa Bay beat the Yankees 5-2, so after 160 games, the Red Sox and Rays are tied at 89-71 for the AL wild card.
This was Beckett's second start in a row in which Terry Francona watched him run out of gas in the middle innings and did not pull him. In six starts since September 11, Beckett and Jon Lester have posted an 8.18 ERA.
Beckett allowed a single, a walk, and another single to start the fifth, as the Orioles tied the game at 2-2. After a sacrifice bunt, Beckett issued another walk, loading the bases. He got out of trouble, however, with an infield pop-up and a strikeout. Through five innings, he had thrown 86 pitches. Aceves was ready, but Tito, in a close-to-must-win game, tried to squeeze another inning out of Beckett.
Vlad Guerrero started the sixth with a single (setting a new MLB record for hits by a Dominican-born player (2,587)) and stole second. Yes, Vlad, pushing his walker, with the tennis balls on the bottom making two little trails in the infield dirt, stole second base. Beckett got two outs, then walked Mark Reynolds and gave up an RBI double to Chris Davis. Aceves was warming again, but Francona stayed with Beckett and watched as Andino clubbed his ITPHR to deep center. Now down 7-4, Tito still let Beckett (6-7-6-4-5, 108) pitch - and he got the next batter, thanks to a great play on a bunt by Dustin Pedroia.
Aceves came in to pitch the eighth, with the Red Sox down by four. Why? We will likely need him tomorrow night. He threw 16 pitches.
Boston rallied in both the eighth and ninth innings. After Clay Rapada struck out David Ortiz to open the eighth, Adrian Gonzalez singled to right. Pedro Strop came in and walked Jed Lowrie (who had homered in the fourth) and allowed a single to J.D. Drew, loading the bases. As the potential go-ahead run, Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out on four pitches and Marco Scutaro grounded into a force play.
In the ninth, against Jim Johnson, Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch and balked to second. He took third on Carl Crawford's grounder to first and scored on Pedroia's single to right. Ortiz followed with an infield single to the shortstop hole. Gonzalez, as the potential tying run, was undisciplined at the plate, swinging at pitches out of the zone and flying out to left. Lowrie struck out swinging to end the game.
In the bottom of the eighth, Saltalamacchia was hit in the right side of his chest by a foul ball off the bat of Adam Jones. He was in considerable pain in the dirt behind the plate and left the game. Although Salty has "a baseball-sized lump on his shoulder", x-rays of his right collarbone were negative and he hopes to play tomorrow night.
Josh Beckett / Tommy Hunter
Ellsbury, CFComing off the high of the most important win of the season, the Red Sox will finish the regular season in Camden Yards, while the Rays (1 GB in the wild card standings) host the Yankees.
Boston's magic number is 3, so the earliest anything will be decided is after one of the games tomorrow night. A Red Sox-Rays playoff game for the wild card would be played on Thursday in Tampa Bay. The ALDS begins on Friday.
The Red Sox bullpen threw eight innings last night, so a solid start from Beckett would be most welcome. Scott Atchison has pitched in four of the last five games (78 pitches) and has a mild groin strain. Franklin Morales threw 44 pitches last night, in his first appearance since the second game of last Monday's doubleheader. In the second game last night, Daniel Bard threw 28 pitches and Jonathan Papelbon threw 29.
Maybe we get hot this week and carry it on and kick everybody's butt. Maybe we try so hard to get in there we're tired and we don't win. There are a lot of ways this is going to go. We don't know what it is yet.David Ortiz:
It's been tough, man - it's tough and it won't get any easier. But I'm a warrior, man, and I fight back. That's all you can do: come back and give everything you've got.Dustin Pedroia:
Just because we've had a tough couple of weeks doesn't mean we're done. ... We're on a one-game winning streak. Smile, bro. It's all good.Monday
Red Sox at Orioles - Josh Beckett / Tommy HunterTuesday
Yankees at Rays - Hector Noesi / James Shields
Red Sox at Orioles - Erik Bedard / Zach BrittonWednesday
Yankees at Rays - Bartolo Colon / Jeremy Hellickson
Red Sox at Orioles - ??? / Alfredo Simon
Yankees at Rays - ??? / David Price
Wild Card Probability (%)
Cool BP Red Sox 88.4 90.6 Rays 11.5 8.9 Angels 0.1 0.4Game thread.