7:10 pm Josh Beckett takes the hill and promptly retires the first three Rays’ batters without much effort. His last outing was great (7 K’s, no walks, no runs in five innings in his first start since missing time with tingling/numbness in his fingers), but he hasn’t been very Beckettian this season (4.20 ERA). If the Red Sox are going to advance at all this October, they need Beckett to be Beckett.
7:15 Paul favorite Andy Sonnanstine’s pitching for the Rays. He gets the speedy Ellsbury leading off, but super-gutty gamer Pedroia hustles to first and gets there just in time! The throw from Bartlett was high–they just charged him with an error–but that was a nice bit of running from Pedroia. He’s not known for his speed, and yet he has 17 steals this season and just one caught stealing. I think that says just as much about his brain as his legs.
7:20 Sonnanstine gets Papi to strike out and then Kevin Youkilis flies out. I run into the kitchen to check on my peach cobbler. It’s bubblin’!
7:23 Dang! Ultimate gutty infielder Pedroia takes a bad hop off the chest and Floyd is on base. Because the official scorer likes him better than Bartlett, it’s a basehit. And this is followed up by a triple from Aybar–and the Rays send Floyd home! That’s nice, aggressive baserunning. Rays up, 1-0.
7:27 And I feel the need for a glass of rose. That “e” needs an accent aigue, but I don’t know how to do that in html. And while I was trying to look it up, Beckett broke off a beautiful curveball and struck out Hinske!
7:28 Gabe Gross at the plate. He looks constipated. Gross.
7:33 Cobbler’s done! Yay! Bay strikes out. Boo.
7:34 Oh ho! Controversial interference call while I am pulling my tasty cobbler out of the oven. High fly ball is heading for the left-field corner when a fan reaches out and touches it–umpire calls batter Lowell out. Terry is understandably heated: Dan Johnson, the left fielder, is actually facedown on the ground by the time the ball hits the fan’s hand. I don’t see how you make a play lying facedown on the ground. Now the fan is getting kicked out…and doing an annoying little dance. There ya go, jackass. 31 minutes of baseball for what was probably a $100 ticket on StubHub.
7:40 Beckett strikes out Bartlett on three pitches to start the 3rd, as if in a controversial-call-induced rage. It’s as if the angrier he gets, the better he pitches. He looked so pissed off when he was pitching so well last week–THAT’S the Beckett we like to see in Beantown! “Eff you, strike zone!! Now I will pound you with the heat!!!”
7:47 After Iwamura doubles and Beckett strikes Johnson out, he has a little trouble getting Pena, and Varitek heads out to the mound. Keith Law noted today that Papelbon has been throwing almost exclusively fastballs lately–which caught up with him last night–and I wonder what Varitek’s role in that has been. I admit, though I’d also noticed the preponderance of fastballs, I hadn’t been watching to see if Paps had been shaking off Tek. I know when he was a rookie, he was so obedient, that Varitek finally told him to shake his head once in a while–even if only to mess with the batter’s head. Ah, and Pena finally strikes out, ending the inning.
7:52 The bottom of the inning gets off to a quick start when Lowrie sends a bloop through the right side for a single. I really like him. I wonder if there’s any truth to the rumors–or any feasability therein–that the Red Sox are going to try their darndest to move Lugo this offseason. It would be great to have Lowrie playing every day, even if Boston has to pay Lugo to play elsewhere. After all, it’s only money. And you couldn’t pay most Red Sox fans to warm to Julio “Cement Hands” Lugo.
7:54 Whoah! Lots going on at second base. First Lowrie skids in just barely safe on an error by Iwamura, as Varitek reaches on a grounder. Then Dioner Navarro fires a throw, from his knees, that almost gets Lowrie! But he’s safe again. Kid’s a survivor.
7:56 Jacoby Ellsbury grounds into a DP and the original DP, Dustin Pedroia, steps in. Fans hold up “MVP” signs in the outfield. Pedroia is tied for first in the AL in batting average and is first in runs scored and hits. He comes into tonight’s game just six shy of 200. He plays an acrobatic second base and is one of the toughest guys to strike out in the league. But is he the league MVP? Discuss.
7:59 Um, he must have heard you saying he was too short. Mr. Napoleon Complex just tied the game with a line drive double to left.
8:02 Papi flies out to end the inning. During the commercial break, I take a quick peak at America’s Next Top Model. What? I can’t help it. It’s a disease. Don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin.
8:05 Another K for Beckett as Floyd goes down swinging. Damn.
8:07 A single for Aybar. Well, he’s not throwing balls.
8:08 Oh. My. God. If I do say so, my cobbler is fanfreakingtastic.
8:10 Whoah! Clarke and Elina are kissing on ANTM. In a hot tub. OMG. And now Hinske strikes out! This IS crazy.
8:12 And now another strikeout, this one called. Beckett is on fiyah. 51 pitches, 7 K’s. And I am totally going to eat this entire cobbler tonight.
8:15 Youk gets plunked to start the inning. He seems to get hit a lot, and not just by Joba Chamberlain. It certainly didn’t seem intentional, but with the Red Sox and Rays, you never know when a brawl might break out! WIll we see Hinske go all UFC on someone’s ass?
8:26 The fifth opens with the score still tied at 1. Bartlett gets a one-out double, hitting another stinging grounder down past third base. A lot of action in that wonky little corner of left field tonight.
8:30 A walk! Finally, Beckett walks someone.
8:35 Ooooh. Another walk. But that one, coming against Carlos Pena, came on a full count and the payoff pitch really looked to me like it painted the black. Now the bases are loaded for the Rays, with two out and Cliff Floyd up. Sigh. We’re still ahead in the Wild Card, anyway.
8:38 Ah, sweet escape! Floyd flies out to deep right to end the inning. This calls for a celebratory dollop of cobbler. And another glass of wine.
8:46 Pedroia! So gritty! So gutty! So full of intangibles! So hit by the pitch! (Oh, and Lowrie had a ground rule double, too.)
8:47 Ahhhh….but Big Papi grounds out. There is no joy in Mudville. And I am beginning to have a sinking feeling like this game is going to go on all night.
8:52 Oh snap! Hinske sends a screamer down the first baseline, but Youk snares it.
8:53 Argh, but Beckett gives up another single. This outing has gone from a breeze to a battle.
8:58 Okay, I just had to go watch the final moments of ANTM. Isis was in the bottom two! I can’t believe it. I think they’ll keep her on till…final six at least? Anyway, I can’t help but notice that this cycle, they have a transgendered person, when last season, they had a model who only looked like a transvestite. (Yes, I am talking about you, Dominique.) Ah, gender, you fickle social construct, you!
9:02 Okajima comes on to start the 7th. I’m glad to see Terry taking Beckett out now and using Oki to start the inning, instead of waiting until Beckett gets himself into a jam and then bringing Okajima in with runners on. That scenario hasn’t been working out too well, this season.
9:08 Maybe it’s the mitochondria, maybe it’s just those sad, sad eyes, but Rocco Baldelli (pinch hitting for Johnson) just looks exhausted. Coffee, Rocco. Coffee
9:14 Sonnanstine is rolling now, striking out the first two Red Sox of the 7th. Lowrie said something to the ump as he walked away after a called strike three–looks like the ball just drifted back over to catch the plate at the last second.
9:16 Now here’s some unlooked-for good fortune! Jason Varitek has a single. He should be good for another 10 at-bats or so now. (I know, it’s awful. I can’t stop myself, even if he does have that C on his chest.)
9:19 Ellsbury strikes out looking. Need I mention that he’s on my fantasy team?
9:20 Is it just me, or are Underarmour commercials just getting more and more bizarre? You. Are. The new Prototypes! The fuuuutuuuure is NOOOOOOOOOOOW! RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
9:21 Also, these ads for the AT&T internet card that feature that old guy in front of the Fountain of Youth or the Abominable Snowman being like, “The internet can’t hide here either! I just found the internet!” Reminds me of Murray Chass.
9:23 Leadoff double against Okajima to start the 8th. I’m wary–Okajima doesn’t seem to do as well in the second inning of his outings (if ya follow me). But again, this is just my purely subjective judgment; no stats to back this up.
9:35 Okajima let two guys on and got no outs, so Masterson came in. I have to admit, I was skepitcal about the decision to move Masterson to the bullpen. He’d been so good in his starts.
9:36 Masterson gets Navarro out swinging at a pitch that nearly hit him! If Navarro had been Kevin Youkilis, he would’ve let it plunk him. The bases are loaded, so a nice HBP right now would mean a run. Masterson gets the next batter to ground out to Pedroia to end the inning.
9:49 Lots of yelling at the TV just now. Jason Bay comes up with two out and one on, and launches a loooooooooooong ball to dead center–where it’s caught. Poop. Guess we don’t really have a right to expect four homers in four games. Ah well…on to the 9th.
9:54 On a hit-and-run that forgot the “hit” part, Kevin Cash fires to Lowrie to get Bartlett at second. Big roar from a crowd that has been treated to a great duel, but has been given precious little to actually cheer about. Readers, if this game goes to extras, I reserve my right to abandon you. Another glass of wine and I won’t be saying anything intelligible anyway.
9:57 Masterson gets Baldelli swinging, and we cut to a Southwest commercial. The woman playing the booking agent has a mahogany updo sort of like Sarah Palin’s. I’m growing panicky. 1) This game will never end 2) If it does, the Red Sox will probably lose and 3) I will never–ever–escape from Sarah Palin.
10:01 Don and Remdawg note that Lowell is 3 for 6 against the new pitcher, Grant Balfour, with a homer and two RBI. My boyfriend notes that Balfour is kind of a crappy name for a pitcher. “Wouldn’t you rather be Grant Strikethree?”
10:02 And it’s ball four from Balfour! Leadoff walk for Lowell.
10:03 Maddon holds a conference on the mound as Alex Cora comes in to pinch run for Lowell. Kotsay steps in to the box. He flies out to deep center–it looked promising off the bat, but it doesn’t even get to the warning track.
10:07 Lowrie waves at strike three–lame. But remember, if it were Lugo, he would’ve hit into an inning-ending double play. it’s all relative.
10:08 Chris Carter pinch hits for Cash. Yes, if you are keeping track at home, this is Boston’s third catcher of the game. They’re carrying four right now. The four of them combined equal one Varitek from three years ago. Dammit Sarah! Stop that!
10:10 How about that? Carter gets an opposite field base hit. Nicely done.
10:12 Balfour is wearing about ten million necklaces. It’s also something that Josh Beckett does. And Clay Buchholz. Beckett can get away with it (because Beckett can get away with anything), but I wish someone would tell Clay that when he wins 20 in the show, then he can wear ten million necklaces and people will think he’s “colorful.”
10:13 No! He was safe! Ellsbury was SAFE! With two on and two out, Ellsbury clearly beat the throw to first. The replay confirms what I saw with my naked eye! Bosh! Stupid umpires! Terry comes out and argues, again, but to no avail. Inning over. Extra innings, here we come. Now I’m just cranky.
10:22 As Manny Delcarmen looks for the final out of the top of the 10th, I’m wondering if the reason the Red Sox are carrying four catchers now–and playing at least three of them in this game–is to audition guys for Varitek’s replacement. With the way he’s been hitting and the way Jorge Posada has been hurting, his contract is getting cheaper by the day. But what if the Red Sox really don’t want his .314 OBP in their lineup anymore?
10:31 After a leadoff double by Pedroia, an intentional walk of David Ortiz, and a double play from Kevin Youkilis that sent Pedroia to third base, Maddon comes out for a meeting on the mound. Bay steps in–he’s 4 for 6 against hurler Bradford. Come on Jason! Make us love you like we loved Manny! Only, without the occasional bouts of hate.
10:32 Bay hits a slow chopper to short–at first, it seems like it might be juuust slow enough to let the fleet-footed Bay be safe at first–but that was false hope. Bay is out, Pedroia is stranded at third, and we go to the 11th. Seriously, am I still blogging?
10:50 Yes, yes I am. And David Ross–the fourth catcher of the night–is in with two on and one out in the bottom of the 11th. What are the Red Sox going to do if he suddenly breaks his wrist? Put DP in the catching gear and put Cora at second?
10:56 Ellsbury decides that this is a great night to go 0 for 6. No no, don’t worry about it Jacoby—the Somerville Green Sox weren’t about to beat Paul’s team anyway. On to the 12th!
11:05 Javier Lopez completes a one-two-three 12th as the game enters its fourth hour.
11:08 Pedroia’s hit by the pitch to start the bottom of the 12th! That’s the third hit batsman for the Sox tonight.
11:09 PAPI SAC BUNTS. Unlike Varitek, he actually can bunt. Coco thinks it’s hilarious, and admittedly, there’s something charming and self-deprecating about it coming from Papi. Paul Byrd appears to be giving Papi a good noodling in the dugout, now. But really, I’m semi-enraged. Come ON. There’s a reason Papi hasn’t sac bunted since 2001. Let the man unleash his inner clutchness!
11:12 Earlier, the home plate ump was calling every pitch slightly in, against righties, or slightly away, against lefties, a strike. But now, they’re all balls. What gives?
11:13 Youk walks and Bay comes up again–another shot at earning our undying Fen-love!
11:15 Bay strikes out, swinging. He has now earned my temporary Fen-hate.
11:17 Cora flies out to shallow center to end the inning. My beau leaves the room in disgust.
11:24 A leadoff double for the Rays, followed by a double play, means it’s now a man on third with two outs. Lopez is still pitching for Boston. The announcers criticize the Rays for not bunting. The camerman finds Ray Bourque. A weak grounder to first ends the inning.
11:33 Three well-hit balls, three great defensive plays, and we’re going to the 14th.
11:36 Lopez is still out there! And still pitching well! He gets a K to start the inning.
11:37 Oops, spoke too soon. Terry comes out for the ball, and Timlin comes in. I have a sinking feeling that this game is about to end very soon.
11:42 Aaaand the Rays have men on first and second with two out.
11:44 Ah, a three-run homer off the bat of Carlos Pena. Why didn’t Terry bring Timlin in sooner? Even Rocco Baldelli is not as tired as I am right now.
11:49 I’m now reading about football.
11:53 Leadoff double for Ellsbury! At least my fantasy team will be spared the indignity of an 0 for 7, then.
11:56 A walk for Pedroia brings Papi to the plate with two on and no outs. Think he’ll be bunting this time?
11:57 Percival goes to 2-0, missing badly, and Maddon shakes his head. He goes to 3-0 and Maddon looks away, as if he can’t bear to watch, before glancing back with a look dripping with disdain. Ball four, and Maddon comes out with the trainer. Riiiiight. The ol’ “strained suckdricep” excuse.
12:01 The umpires are milling around and discussing something. Is there a problem? Or are they just discussing the possibility that some clubbie can get them Wing Works?
12:05 As the game moves into the fifth hour, Youk flies deep to right, Ellsbury tags and scores, and Pedroia tags and moves to third. And–once again–Bay is stepping in. Remember, Jason–UNDYING LOVE!
12:06 As Bay gets started with a swing and a miss, I wonder whether you’d leave Papi in to run–he’s the tying run, at first–or bring in Coco, who’s on the bench. Just….wondering.
12:08 Bay strikes out on a lunging stab at a ball way outside the zone. No love. Undying or otherwise.
12:10 Down to their last out, Alex Cora steps in. He pops it to centerfield, and the Rays win. That’s all I got, folks. I’m off to the land of Nod, where I hopefully will not have nightmares about 18 men left on base.