Final, 3-1 Red Sox: And that’s it, it’s over. The Red Sox beat the Rays and advance to the ALCS. Uehara got Myers to fly out to center, Loney to ground out to second and Longoria to strike out on a half swing.
That was an exciting finish to a series the Red Sox really controlled. Player of the game tonight? Hard to say, with what Peavy gave to them, the work of Breslow, Bogaerts’ patience, Farrell’s moves, and Uehara’s work at the end of the game. The player of the game doesn’t matter all that much, because the Red Sox are going to the ALCS.
Middle 9th, 3-1 Red Sox: Ortiz grounds into the shift again, and Uehara’s heading back to the mound looking to get the Red Sox to the ALCS.
Top 9th, 3-1 Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia gets it done rather quickly with a sacrifice fly to right field on the second pitch from Archer, and Bogaerts scores after tagging up to give the Sox some breathing room.
And seemingly just for good measure, Maddon took a stroll to the hill to take out Archer and put in Wesley Wright. Because … well .. because.
Top 9th, 2-1 Red Sox: Uehara followed up his failure with a good showing thus far, but Fernando Rodney has done just the opposite.
The Rays’ closer walked Bogaerts, struck out Middlebrooks, walked Ellsbury and hit Victorino, and Rodney’s night is over.
The Red Sox now have the bases loaded with just one out and Dustin Pedroia at the plate. Chris Archer comes in to pitch for the Rays. Do they have one more rabbit foot lying around, or is this the time when something finally gives?
End 8th, 2-1 Red Sox: Just 24 hours after giving up the walk-off bomb to Lobaton, Uehara comes back strong.
It was somewhat of a strange Uehara at-bat, in that he threw three balls after getting ahead 0-2. Yet he came back with a splitter at the bottom of the zone to get DeJesus to go down swinging and end the eighth inning.
The Sox are three outs away from the ALCS, but you can bet they’d like to pad the lead a bit here, especially with Myers-Loney-Longoria due up in the ninth.
Bottom 8th, 2-1 Red Sox, 2 out: Tazawa gets the job done, striking out Matt Joyce. And now on comes Koji Uehara, with Farrell asking him to get the four-out save.
David DeJesus is up for the Rays.
Bot 8th, 2-1 Red Sox, 1 out: Breslow retired pinch hitter Delmon Young on just one pitch, and he would have retired Yunel Escobar had it not been for fortunate placement on a grounder up the middle. Xander Bogaerts made a diving play, but his two-hopped throw to first was very late. (Would Drew have made that play? It doesn’t matter, because Bogaerts already did a job at the plate.)
Farrell seemed content to let Breslow face Jose Lobaton, but when Joe Maddon inserted Sean Rodriguez as a pinch hitter for the catcher, Farrell made his way to the mound and called for Junichi Tazawa. And then after Tazawa was officially in the game, Maddon pinch hit for his pinch hitter, sending Matt Joyce to the plate. Chess matches all over the place.
Middle 8th, 2-1 Red Sox: That was not an ideal at-bat for the Red Sox. Mike Napoli struck out looking before Daniel Nava fouled off four pitches on his way to an eight-pitch walk. It was for naught though, as David Ross whiffed on a 1-0 pitch with Nava in motion on a hit-and-run. Nava was toast at second, and Ross struck out swinging (the Red Sox have struck out nine times tonight) to end the inning.
Breslow is back out there for the eighth.
End 7th, 2-1 Red Sox: How about Craig Breslow?
After getting a strikeout on three pitches to end the sixth, he kept rolling along in the seventh, getting Longoria, Zobrist and Jennings to all go down swinging. He befuddled Longoria and Zobrist with sliders, causing both to try unsuccessfully to check their swings.
Breslow’s line: 1.1 IP, O H, 0 BB, 4 SO, 18 pitches. Doesn’t get much better than that — and it comes with pretty useful timing.
Middle 7th, 2-1 Red Sox: And the Red Sox have the lead.
Ellsbury took off for second on the first pitch Peralta threw, and the pitch skipped in the dirt and got away from Lobaton. Bogaerts broke home and scored the tying run.
With a run in, Victorino showed bunt but pulled back to take a strike before hitting a slow roller to shortstop. Victorino hustled all the way and beat Escobar’s throw to first base, allowing Ellsbury to score the go-ahead run.
Pedroia followed up with a single, bringing up David Ortiz with two on and two outs. Ortiz struck out on three pitches to end the inning, but the Sox now have a lead.
Top 7th, 1-0 Rays, 2 outs: John Farrell went to the bench in the seventh, inserting Jonny Gomes for Saltalamacchia (Gomes flew out) and making the much-ballyhooed move to put Xander Bogaerts in for Stephen Drew to face Jake McGee. Bogaerts, for a 21-year-old who hasn’t played in nine days, looked cool as a cucumber and was able to work a walk.
Will Middlebrooks then put up a great fight, fouling off four pitches before eventually striking out on pitch No. 8 of the at-bat.
Ellsbury then hit a line drive single to center field, and Bogaerts was able to advance to third base.
Joel Peralta is now on to face Victorino in a crucial spot.
End 6th, 1-0 Rays: And with just three pitches, Craig Breslow finishes off the sixth inning by getting Loney to strike out swinging.
Bottom 6th, 1-0 Rays, 2 out: After just 75 pitches, Jake Peavy’s night is over.
He’s not in trouble right now, after getting Wil Myers to fly out to left, but John Farrell apparently isn’t liking what he’s seeing regarding the Rays’ contact against Peavy. Escobar smoked that ball off the wall, DeJesus squared up the RBI single, and Myers put some good wood on a few fouls before flying out.
In comes Craig Breslow, who has allowed one hit and one walk in two innings in this series.
Bottom 6th, 1-0 Rays: The Rays get on the board first. Escobar led off the inning with a double off the left field wall that missed being a home run by about 3 feet of fencing. Lobaton moved Escobar over to third with a ground ball to the right side, and with the infield in, DeJesus laced an RBI single over the fruitless leap of Mike Napoli to plate the game’s first run.
Wil Myers is up with one on and one out, but the important part is that one run is in.
Middle 6th, 0-0: Zeroes remain, after Ortiz smashes a ground ball right into the shift, Napoli flies out to center on a 3-0 count, and Nava strikes out swinging at a ball in the dirt on 3-2.
Peavy’s been the man, but the smorgasbord of Rays pitching has prevented the Red Sox from getting anything done.
Due up in the bottom of the sixth: Escobar, Lobaton (look out) and DeJesus.
End 5th, 0-0: Jake Peavy is just cruising. He got a little help from Shane Victorino out in right field on a hard hit ball by Desmond Jennings for the second out, but he retired Zobrist on a flare to left and got Kelly Johnson to go down swinging again. It was Peavy’s third punchout, and he’s needed just 56 pitches to get through five innings.
The problem for him is that the bats haven’t done anything yet, and the game remains scoreless.
Middle 5th, 0-0: Again, the Sox leave two on base, as Dustin Pedroia grounds out weakly to second base with Middlebrooks on second (base hit) and Victorino on first (hit by pitch). Pedroia is now just 3-for-16 (.188) in this series.
End 4th, 0-0: Dustin Pedroia over-extended his range by cutting off a high chopper from Wil Myers to lead off the inning. Pedroia, throwing across his body instead of with the momentum toward first that Drew would have had, wasn’t able to get the ball to first in time. But it was no matter, as the double play popped right back up again. James Loney tagged a ball through the box, but Drew was positioned perfectly to field the ball, tag second and fire to first for the out. Longoria followed up with a grounder to Middlebrooks, and Peavy’s through four in 47 pitches.
For what it’s worth, Matt Moore’s at 30 pitches so far through two innings pitched. Who knows how long he’ll be in with the way Maddon managed the start of the game?
Here’s the answer: He’s done. Alex Torres is in to start the top of the fifth. Wacky stuff from Joe Maddon, who’s clearly using everybody tonight and telling David Price, if it comes to it, that it’s all on him in Game 5.
Middle 4th, 0-0: The Red Sox had a little something going, but they needed a hit from Jarrod Saltalamacchia to make it happen. The trouble with that? Saltalamacchia’s having a bit of a hard time making contact lately.
Saltalamacchia went down looking for the second time in as many at-bats tonight. He was 1-for-4 with three K’s in Game 3 last night, and even with his double in Game 1, he still struck out twice. That’s seven strikeouts this series in 10 at-bats, which is … not ideal.
The Sox got a hard hit single to right field from Ortiz and a walk by Nava, but strikeouts from Napoli and Saltalamacchia killed any chances of a run crossing the plate. On to the fourth we go.
End 3rd, 0-0: Double plays are wild tonight, as Jake Peavy gets out of a jam by inducing a grounder back to the mound from David DeJesus with runners on first and second and one out. Peavy pivoted and fired to Drew at second, and the throw to first got DeJesus for the third and final out.
Peavy did surrender back-to-back, hard-hit singles to right field in that inning, first to Yunel Escobar, then to Jose Lobaton, after striking out Kelly Johnson to start the frame.
Peavy’s thrown 38 pitches through three.
Middle 3rd, 0-0: Everything Joe Maddon touches is turning to gold.
Matt Moore came on and with one pitch got Jacoby Ellsbury to send a chopper to second base. Zobrist fielded it, and Middlebrooks froze in order to try to get into a rundown. Yet Zobrist fired to first to retire to Ellsbury, and Loney threw to Escobar at the second base bag to put the tag on Middlebrooks to complete another unlikely double play.
Victorino struck out to end the inning.
Top 3rd, 0-0: Nobody really knows what Joe Maddon’s thinking. When Matt Moore wasn’t the first guy out of the bullpen, the thought was that Maddon wanted Moore to come in to start an inning with nobody on and nobody out. Yet Wright came back out for the third inning, walked Will Middlebrooks to start the inning … and now Maddon has called for Matt Moore in the bullpen.
Alrighty then. It worked out for Maddon and the Rays last inning (if you call “inducing” a 130 mph line drive from Stephen Drew “working out”), so maybe Joe’s got the magic touch. The top of the order is coming up.
End 2nd, 0-0: The Rays aren’t able to crush the Sox’ spirits at the plate, as Peavy again retires the side in order. Longoria flew out to center, Zobrist to left, and Jenning grounded out sharply to shortstop.
Jamey Wright is back in for the top of the third for the Rays.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: And the Rays improbably, borderline impossibly, get out of it unscathed.
Jamey Wright threw a 2-2 hook to Saltalamacchia that fell in the outside corner for a called strike three. Stephen Drew stepped up and smoked a line drive to the right side, but it was right at James Loney. The first baseman made the catch and began racing Nava back to the first base bag before realizing Mike Napoli was a mile off second base. Loney threw off-balanced to second base but retired Napoli with ease.
And just like that, the Red Sox let a bases-loaded, nobody-out, starter-pulled-in-the-second inning situation go to waste. Wow.
Top 2nd, 0-0, bases loaded: How much faith did Joe Maddon have in Jeremy Hellickson tonight? Apparently, next to zero, because the skipper has yanked the starter from the game.
With no room for error tonight, Hellickson lost his control in the second, throwing eight straight balls to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. Only one of the pitches was even close.
Daniel Nava stepped in after a mound visit from Jim Hickey, and Nava laced a single into right field to load the bases.
Out walked Maddon, and in comes Jamey Wright. Well then.
Matt Moore is getting up in the bullpen, likely to enter in the third.
End 1st, 0-0: Through three-plus games and 14 plate appearances, Wil Myers remains hitless in the ALDS.
Joe Maddon moved the rookie up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup tonight, but it was more of the same, as he tapped an 0-2 pitch back to the mound for the second out of the inning. On the one hand, it’s impressive that the Red Sox have shut him down (he hit .293 with an .831 OPS this season). You just have to wonder if he’s going to break out in a big way at some point.
Speaking of breaking out, James Loney has somehow morphed into a modern day Babe Ruth. The guy who’s been the Rays’ best hitter gave the Sox a scare with a deep fly ball to left, but Daniel Nava was able to make the catch for the final out on the warning track.
David DeJesus struck out swinging to start the inning.
Middle 1st, 0-0: Hellickson makes short work of the Red Sox, getting Ellsbury to fly out to right in four pitches, Victorino to pop up to third on one pitch, and getting Pedroia to sky one to shortstop to end the inning. He needed just 12 pitches to get through the first. Now it’s time to see Jake Peavy.
Top 1st, 0-0: Jeremy Hellickson’s first pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury was a strike right down the middle, and Game 4 is under way.
8:33 p.m.: Well, the other ALDS is going to a Game 5, after the Tigers just finished off a thrilling win over the A’s. So if the Red Sox win tonight, they’ll have the benefit of extra rest over whoever comes out of the ALDS tonight … but I’m sure that’s far down on the list of reasons the Red Sox would like to win tonight.
First pitch just minutes away.
8:04 p.m.: We’re still 30-plus minutes from first pitch. Start times at 8:37 p.m. in the ALDS should not be allowed. That’s pretty late.
6:42 p.m.: John Farrell addressed the media before the game, and he said his team is eager to get started and that the Red Sox are excited for Jake Peavy to get his chance on the playoff stage.
“Jake, we know, will pitch with a lot of enthusiasm,” Farrell said. “He’ll probably be screaming at himself as we’ve seen on the mound, and it will be a matter of how we navigate through probably those two or three situations inside of tonight’s game that will require a big pitch to be made. This is the stage in which we acquired Jake to come in and contribute to, and we’re looking forward to him taking the mound.”
4:50 p.m.: No changes in the Boston lineup tonight as they get set to face Jeremy Hellickson.
A few of the Sox have good numbers against the Tampa Bay righty, with David Ortiz sporting a .375 average with three homers, a double and a triple in 24 at-bats, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia 8-for-25 with three home runs and five RBIs.
In case you forgot the Boston lineup from last night, here it is:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
4 p.m.: Well, last night was quite the wild ride, but there’s no time for the Red Sox or Rays to dwell on what happened. It’s time for Game 4.
The Sox and Rays will get a late start tonight (8:37 p.m.), which might be a good thing for Boston, which may need some extra separation from the events of Monday night.
It wasn’t shocking that the Red Sox lost, but the way that they lost — Koji Uehara serving up a home run for what seems like the first time in forever — certainly was a bit stunning, both for spectators and the players on the field, and it will take a resilient effort from the Red Sox to put it in the past and try to win tonight.
They’ll be trying to do so against Jeremy Hellickson, with Jake Peavy going for the Red Sox. Stick with the live blog all night for live updates as the Sox try to earn a trip to the ALCS, while the Rays try to force a Game 5 at Fenway on Thursday.
For now, if you’re watching that clock tick, tick, tick down the seconds, we’ve got plenty of reading material for you: