Final, 12-2 Red Sox: And that’s all she wrote. Dempster struck out David DeJesus to lead off the inning, gave up a triple to Kelly Johnson, struck out Matt Joyce and got Escobar to ground out to second.
The Sox lead the series 1-0. We’ll see you late tomorrow afternoon for Game 2. Thanks for following!
End 8th, 12-2 Red Sox: The Sox just couldn’t help themselves in the bottom of the eighth, as they tacked on a few more runs.
It started with a Jacoby Ellsbury flared single to left. He stole second before Victorino singled to left field to drive him in. Victorino then took off for second during Pedroia’s at-bat, and Pedroia smoked a line drive through the vacated right side of the infield, setting up a first-and-third situation with nobody out. David Ortiz walked to load the bases, and then Mike Napoli worked a walk to send another run across the plate.
Jonny Gomes grounded into a double play, which scored another run, before Saltalamacchia clubbed a base hit to right field through the shift to score Ortiz. And the Sox are now up 12-2.
Ryan Dempster is on to finish this one out. He probably has a safe lead to work with.
Middle 8th, 8-2 Red Sox: Tazawa gets the job, getting Myers to line out to right.
Lester’s final line: 7.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO. That’s some ace work from the Game 1 starter.
Top 8th, 8-2 Red Sox: That’s the night for Jon Lester, and the Red Sox fans show him their appreciation with a long and loud ovation as he walked to the dugout and tipped his cap to the fans.
Lester struck out Lobaton and got Zobrist to fly out, but he did leave two runners on base here, so his line isn’t yet complete. Junichi Tazawa has entered, and he’ll do his best to prevent those two runners from scoring.
End 7th, 8-2 Red Sox: Alex Torres entered in relief for the Rays and shut down the Sox. Saltalamacchia went down swinging, as did Drew, before Middlebrooks grounded out to second base.
Lester is indeed back out there to start the eighth. If he can get even just an out or two, that could go a long way in giving the bullpen another day of rest.
Middle 7th, 8-2 Red Sox: Seventh-inning stretch time at Fenway, and Lester retires the side in order yet again. He’s now retired the last 11 batters to step to the plate, ending the seventh by getting Yunel Escobar to go down swinging. It was Lester’s sixth strikeout of the day, and he’s at 94 pitches. It’s likely John Farrell will try to get another inning out of him, with Game 2 just 24 hours away. But we’ll see.
Meanwhile, the official Red Sox Twitter account is getting kind of cocky here:
End 6th, 8-2 Red Sox: A quiet inning from the Red Sox’ offense, as Ortiz (4-3), Napoli (6-3) and Gomes (K) go down 1-2-3.
Middle 6th, 8-2 Red Sox: The fans at Fenway certainly have not forgotten how that huge rally got started in the fourth, and they showed Wil Myers their appreciation for his misplay by giving him a hearty ovation as he stepped to the plate in the top of the sixth.
Myers shook it off but flew out to center field, and Lester once again gets the Rays 1-2-3. He did it in just eight pitches, bringing his pitch count to just 80 through six innings.
End 5th, 8-2 Red Sox: The Rays are finally out of the fifth thanks to Chris Archer, but even that wasn’t easy. Shane Victorino hit a slow roller to shortstop, and he beat Escobar’s throw by a good step and a half.
Pedroia stepped in and worked the count full, but he swung and missed a high curveball to end the inning.
But the damage was clearly done, and the Sox lead 8-2.
Matt Moore’s final line was: 4.1 IP, 8 R, 7 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 4 SO
Bottom 5th, 8-2 Red Sox: The rout is on (if it wasn’t already), as Jacoby Ellsbury smashes a line drive up the middle, which Wright gets a glove on but can’t handle, allowing Saltalamacchia to score from second base.
Chris Archer now comes on for the Rays. Ellsbury’s on first, and Middlebrooks is on second after he was intentionally walked.
Meanwhile, Jon Lester is just sitting back, relaxing, watching the lead grow.
Bottom 5th, 7-2 Red Sox: The Rays intentionally walked Jonny Gomes to get to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t like that one bit.
Saltalamacchia, batting right-handed, crushed a 3-2 pitch to left field. It didn’t clear the Monster, but another misplay by Rodriguez on the carom allowed Gomes to score all the way from first. Mike Napoli, who deftly avoided Zobrist’s tag to safely slide into second for a double earlier in the inning, also scored, and Maddon came out to get Moore.
Wesley Wright, a righty, is in for Tampa.
Middle 5th, 5-2 Red Sox: Jon Lester is rolling right along, though he was happy he had Dustin Pedroia behind him in that inning.
James Loney led off the fifth with a hot shot to second, but Pedroia showed his Gold Glove skills by calmly fielding it and firing to first for the out. Lester then got Lobaton to fly out to center field before striking out Jennings on just four pitches.
Lester’s needed just 72 pitches to make it through five innings. Moore, on the other hand, has needed 86 pitches to get through four, but Joe Maddon has him back on the mound in hopes of preserving the bullpen a bit.
End 4th, 5-2 Red Sox: The Red Sox have the lead, thanks in part to a huge two-RBI wall-ball double by Jonny Gomes, and thanks in part to a major brain fart by rookie Wil Myers.
After Pedroia singled up the middle, David Ortiz launched a high and deep fly ball toward the Boston bullpen in right. Myers camped out under the fly ball a few steps in front of the wall, but at the very last second, he bailed. Whether some fan in the bleachers or somebody in the Sox bullpen yelled “I got it!” we cannot know, but Desmond Jennings was certainly not in any position to make the catch. Nevertheless, Myers — a 22-year-old rookie — bailed on the ball, much to the pleasure of the home crowd.
The ball hit the warning track and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. Two batters later, with one out, Jonny Gomes crushed a Matt Moore offering to left field. It scraped the wall, and both Ortiz and Pedroia scored to tie the game at 2-2.
Moore couldn’t stop the bleeding, as Stephen Drew showed great hustle to leg out an infield single when James Loney may ventured a step too far to his right. On the back end of the play, Gomes hustled all the way, and he was able to score from second on the infield hit to give the Sox a 3-2 lead.
Then Middlebrooks hit a laser off the standings on the Monster, and the ball took a weird bounce before getting past left fielder Sean Rodriguez. Drew scored all the way from first for the Sox’ fourth run of the inning.
But it wasn’t over. Ellsbury struck out swinging to end the inning … except Jose Lobaton just did not catch the ball, which went all the way to the backstop. Ellsbury easily got to first base, and Middlebrooks made it to third, giving the Red Sox an extra out to work with. Victorino made the most of it by smoking a line drive single to right field to drive in Middlebrooks. Pedroia, who led off the inning with the single, finally ended the inning with a grounder to second.
I said the fans needed something from the offense to wake them up. I’m pretty sure a five-run fourth will do the trick.
A very rested Jon Lester now takes the mound with a big lead. Let’s see what he brings.
Middle 4th, 2-0 Rays: Jon Lester left a 3-1 fastball way up against Ben Zobrist, and Zobrist made him pay. Zobrist launched one with a tomahawk swing, sending the pitch over the Monster just inside the foul pole to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
It could have been worse, too, as Longoria then walked on five pitches before Delmon Young smashed a first-pitch single to left field. But Rodriguez flew out to left on the first pitch of his at-bat, and Escobar popped up the first pitch of his at-bat. Napoli caught the ball in foul ground to end the inning.
Fenway is a bit quiet right now, and the fans might need something out of the bats to get into it.
End 3rd, 1-0 Rays: That may have been Moore’s best inning thus far, as he got Middlebrooks to fly out to right, Ellsbury to ground to first and Victorino to go down swinging at a floating curveball.
Ellsbury’s grounder was sharply hit and caught the lip of the grass, causing Loney to nearly misplay the ball at first. He was able to corral it though, and Moore beat Ellsbury to the bag by a full step for the second out.
Middle 3rd, 1-0 Rays: That was a nice answer inning from Lester, as he gets Loney (4-3), Lobaton (F8) and Jennings (F9) in order, needing just 12 pitches.
Lester’s at 43 pitches through three innings, with just the home run blemishing his stat line. He’s struck out four batters, and he did a good job in the third of coming out and preventing the Rays from building off the home run in the second.
End 2nd, 1-0 Rays: Moore again had to work, but the Sox are again kept off the scoreboard in the bottom of the second.
After a Mike Napoli swinging strikeout and a diving catch by Sean Rodriguez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked a seven-pitch walk. He advanced to second on a wild pitch by Moore, but Stephen Drew’s hard-hit grounder caught the back of the mound and kicked to a room-service hop for Escobar, who retired Drew at first to end the inning.
That was a 20-pitch inning for Moore, and he hasn’t looked dominant, but he’s gotten out of two mini-jams already in two innings.
Also, Rodriguez is quickly becoming a pain to the fans here, who have now seen him go deep off Lester and then rob Gomes of a single to left field.
Middle 2nd, 1-0 Rays: Lester was again mowing down the Rays, striking out Longoria on four pitches and getting Young to send a weak flare to second base on just three pitches.
Lester then appeared to catch Sean Rodriguez looking at strike three with a pitch that split the plate, but home plate umpire Chris Guccione deemed it to be too low (it wasn’t). Lester came back with a 95 mph fastball that ended up middle-middle. It was the same pitch which Longoria swung and missed at, but Rodriguez got all of it, crushing a solo homer to left-center field over the Monster to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Will Middlebrooks made a snazzy diving stab at a sharply hit grounder by Yunel Escobar in the next at-bat, and he fired to first to end the inning for Lester.
Napoli, Gomes and Saltalamacchia are due up for Boston in the second.
End 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox made Matt Moore quite a bit, but he was up to the task, getting out of the inning unharmed.
After Ellsbury grounded out to shortstop, Victorino fell behind 1-2 but then took a slow curveball off his foot. Pedroia nearly doubled, but his rope was just foul past the third base bag, and he eventually flew out to center. In stepped David Ortiz, who took two hefty cuts at two low fastballs to start the at-bat. Victorino then swiped second base, but with the count at 2-2, Ortiz rolled one over to Escobar, who was in his normal position at shortstop, to end the inning.
The Sox did force Moore to throw 21 pitches in the inning.
Middle 1st, 0-0: That was quite a statement inning from Jon Lester, who came out firing at 96-97 mph.
Lester struck out the side, all swinging, and he needed just 14 pitches to do it. He did have the advantage of pitching out of sunlight into the shade, but he looked awfully sharp in that inning.
Ellsbury, Victorino and Pedroia are due up in the bottom of the first, their first at-bats since Sunday. Let’s see if there’s any rust on the bats.
Top 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester’s first pitch to Desmond Jennings is a strike, and the playoffs are officially under way in Boston.
The sun has come out and the shadows will indeed be a factor for batters in the first few innings.
2:58 p.m.: After a Boston Strong-themed pregame ceremony and a rousing national anthem, it’s just about time for baseball.
2:48 p.m.: The Red Sox and Rays have been introduced on the field, and Game 1 is now just minutes away.
2:33 p.m.: Kind of a funny tweet from David Price, who’s starting Game 2 for the Rays tomorrow:
2:27 p.m.: See? I told you — just as soon as I posted that last update, the grounds crew removed the tarp and the sun’s come out even more. It won’t be a sunny afternoon, but it appears all systems go for 3:07 p.m.
2:17 p.m.: There’s a pretty steady rain falling down on Fenway right now. It’s certainly picked up from earlier, when it was just spitting, but right now it’s still not to the point where the game would be threatened.
First pitch is still scheduled to be thrown at 3:07 p.m. Looking at the radar, it appears as though the rain has just about made its way through, and the sun is starting to peek its way out. It’s a bit damp right now, but I don’t think they’ll have any trouble getting it started in time.
Also, John Farrell spoke before the game, and he gave a glimpse of the mood in his clubhouse after the long layoff.
“Our guys are champing at the bit, and that’s to be expected. Regardless if you’ve had four days off or a day off — we’re in October,” Farrell said. “I don’t think the downtime is a negative or detriment. We knew Friday was going to get here, and we’ve worked and built to this moment.”
12:45 p.m.: The tarp over the infield and the cancellation of on-field batting practice can’t take the excitement out of Fenway Park, which is home to playoff baseball for the first time since 2009.
That may not seem like too long of a wait, but considering how often the Red Sox made the playoffs from 2003-09, it sure seems that way in Boston.
When the Angels crushed the Red Sox’ spirits in Game 3 of the ’09 ALDS, we were just 10 months removed from George W. Bush’s final days in the White House, “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas was atop the music charts, we knew nothing of Tiger Woods’ private life, and the death of Michael Jackson was still generating headlines. Just three members of the starting lineup that day will be in the lineup today for the Red Sox (Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz), and Red Sox substitutions that day included Joey Gathwright, Brian Anderson and Casey Kotchman.
So yeah, it hasn’t been an eternity, but it’s been a while, and it’s safe to assume Fenway Park will be roaring in just about 150 minutes as the first playoff pitch in the park in four years comes out of the left hand of Jon Lester.
Here’s what the lineups will be for both teams today:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Jonny Gomes, LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jon Lester, SP
1. Desmond Jennings, CF
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B
3. Wil Myers, RF
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Delmon Young, DH
6. Sean Rodriguez, LF
7. Yunel Escobar, SS
8. James Loney, 1B
9. Jose Lobaton, C
Matt Moore, SP
First pitch is at 3:07 p.m. We’ll have all the updates right here in the live blog as the playoffs return to Boston in their very best form — afternoon baseball.