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Final 4-2 Red Sox: It wasn’t a perfect inning for Uehara, who surrendered a long one-out single to pinch hitter Allen Craig. A healthy runner would have made it to second base standing up, but the hobbled Craig could only make a single out of it.
Matt Carpenter then popped out to second before Koji picked off pinch runner Kolten Wong for the final out. What an ending.
Middle 9th, 4-2 Red Sox: No insurance runs came from Drew, Ross and Napoli, and it’s now Koji time.
Three outs, a two-run lead. The bottom of the St. Louis order is due up, so expect some changes from Matheny in order to try to scrape a couple of runs across the board in the ninth.
End 8th, 4-2 Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts owed John Lackey about 30 steak dinners after that inning.
With one out already, the rookie made a nice diving stop behind third base on Yadier Molina, but his throw to first base bounced about halfway there, and it was just out of the reach of Napoli at first base. Molina was able to reach second base on the two-base error by Bogaerts.
Things got more difficult when David Ross simply did not catch a Lackey slider, allowing it to go all the way to the backstop and Molina to walk to third base with one out.
Jon Jay, however, popped out to shortstop, before David Freese grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Sox can now go to Koji Uehara with at least a two-run lead in the ninth.
Middle 8th, 4-2 Red Sox: They said John Lackey was available, and they weren’t kidding.
After Bogaerts struck out with two on and two out, John Lackey exited the bullpen for a jog that he hasn’t made in quite some time. He hasn’t pitched in relief since 2004, and he hasn’t done it in the playoffs since his rookie year in 2002.
So … there’s no way of knowing how this ends up.
The Sox got two on with another Ortiz single, a stolen base from pinch runner Quintin Berry, and a walk by Jonny Gomes.
End 7th, 4-2 Red Sox: Two pitches, and Tazawa does his job.
After Tazawa hit the outside edge for a called strike one, Holliday hit a grounder right at Pedroia, who fired on to first to end the inning.
Doubront’s final line: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 SO.
Breslow: 0.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB.
The heart of the Red Sox order is coming up, looking to ease the tension a bit by adding a run or two of insurance.
Bottom 7th, 2 out, 4-2 Red Sox: Craig Breslow used to be automatic for the Red Sox this postseason. Now, he can’t get anyone out.
Carpenter was able to muscle a 2-1 pitch into right field, and it was hit just softly enough for Robinson to be able to score from second to cut the Sox’ lead to 4-2.
Breslow then walked Beltran on four pitches, and that’s the night for him. No bueno.
Junichi Tazawa is coming in to face Matt Holliday. Tazawa was the man the Red Sox needed to get Miguel Cabrera in the ALCS, so he’s got plenty of experience in situations like these. It ought to be a prime-time matchup.
Bottom 7th, 2 outs, 4-1 Red Sox: A bid for a perfect three innings of relief for Doubront gets spoiled by a pinch-hit double by Shane Robinson, and Farrell headed to the mound with the hook for the lefty.
He leaves having retired eight of the nine batters he faced, an outstanding outing that the Sox desperately needed after Buchholz clearly didn’t have a lot of strength.
Craig Breslow comes on in relief, looking to get back on track after some uncharacteristic outings this series.
Middle 7th, 4-1 Red Sox: The Sox go down in order, including Doubront striking out, but the lefty will go back out to the mound for the seventh. If he can keep going the way he has been, the Sox will be in ideal position to close it out.
End 6th, 4-1 Red Sox: This might be as good as Doubront has ever looked on the mound, really, and it’s coming at a pretty good time for the Red Sox.
He caught Matt Adams looking at strike three to start the inning before Molina made a loud out but an out nonetheless to the warning track in left. Jon Jay then check-swung a grounder to second for the final out of the sixth to cap off two perfect innings for Doubront. With the 4-1 lead and the way he’s pitching, it would make sense for Farrell to let Doubront bat here if it means he can give them another inning of work like this.
Middle 6th, 4-1 Red Sox: The call for Seth Maness did … not work.
Gomes got a 2-2 fastball from Maness and absolutely crushed it, sending a majestic fly ball over the fence in left field. When it came down, the Sox led 4-1. What a swing from a guy who somehow manages to keep coming through despite the statistics saying he shouldn’t.
Bogaerts followed up the homer with a line drive to right field, but Drew grounded out to second base to end the inning. No matter here, as the damage was done.
Top 6th, 2 outs, 1-1: Lance Lynn got two quick outs to start the sixth, but Pedroia singled on the first pitch of his at-bat before Lynn pitched very carefully to Ortiz, walking him on four pitches.
Mike Matheny had plenty of time to think about his next move, and he decided to pull his starter. With Gomes at the plate, Matheny has called for Seth Maness to come in to pitch.
Maness allowed the game-tying run to score in the sixth inning last night by giving up a single to Nava, before he got Bogaerts to ground into a double play.
End 5th, 1-1: Typically, a “shutdown inning” is credited to a starter for getting his team right back to the plate after a rally. While Doubront didn’t start, he began his outing tonight by shutting down the Cards.
He got Carpenter to strike out looking, induced a lazy pop fly to left from Beltran (which Gomes read poorly and had to make a sliding play to catch) and caught Holliday looking at strike three.
Not bad for nine pitches of work.
The top of the order is coming up for the Red Sox, looking to keep that momentum going. Only scoring one run from a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation definitely isn’t a victory, but after tying the game, they have to be feeling a bit more comfortable than they were an inning ago.
Middle 5th, 1-1: David Ortiz led off the inning with a double deep into the right-center field gap. As the Sox’ DH arrived at second, he slapped his hands together, turned to his dugout and yelled “Let’s go! Vamanos!”
Jonny Gomes fell behind 0-2 but showed a great eye in taking some close pitches and fouling several others off, eventually working a walk. Xander Bogaerts then walked on five pitches, leading to a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation for Stephen Drew.
He didn’t get a hit, but he did enough to drive in the run, sending a fly ball down the left field line. Holliday’s throw was close, but it hit Ortiz as he slid across home plate with the game-tying run.
Gomes didn’t advance to third base on the throw, but that didn’t turn out to be a factor. Ross struck out after a lengthy at-bat, and Mike Carp — pinch hitting for Buchholz — grounded to first base to end the inning.
But the game is tied, and Buchholz’s night is done. Felix Doubront will kick off what will be (at least) a five-inning workload for the bullpen if the Sox hope to win tonight.
End 4th, 1-0 Cardinals: Dustin Pedroia’s toe may have saved the day for Boston, as he was jusssstt able to touch the second base bag after a flip from the glove of Drew sailed a little bit. But Pedroia did indeed just get his toe on the bag before Jon Jay slid into him for the second out of the inning.
Buchholz then intentionally walked Descalso after falling behind 2-1 in order to face the pitcher, and the move nearly backfired. Lynn stuck his bat out over the plate and sent a little flare into right field, but Daniel Nava was playing shallow and made the catch to end the inning.
It was another close one for Buchholz, but he made it through. He’s at 66 pitches, and considering he’s not due up for six more batters, it stands to reason he’ll be back out there for the fifth.
Middle 4th, 1-0 Cardinals: Lance Lynn entered this game with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP in this postseason. You’d never know it by the way he’s fooling the Red Sox, as he’s faced the minimum through four innings and has needed just 50 pitches to do so. His only blemish was the Ortiz single which would have been an out if not for Lynn kicking the ball back toward the plate, but even that runner was erased quickly by a double play.
Ellsbury worked the count full before grounding out to first, Nava flew out to center and Pedroia watched strike three split the plate in half for the third out of the fourth. The Red Sox just have absolutely nothing going at the plate, putting a lot of pressure on Buchholz to keep the score right here at 1-0.
End 3rd, 1-0 Cardinals: The Cardinals caught the first big break of the game, as Matt Carpenter’s single past a diving Pedroia kicked up just before Ellsbury fielded the ball, allowing the Cardinals’ second baseman to reach second base on the single. And it didn’t take long for the Cardinals to cash in, with Beltran lining a single back up the middle to drive in Carpenter for the game’s first run.
It was a tough error for Ellsbury to take, as it was a pretty routine play before the ball hit something out there in right-center and kicked up off the heel of his glove.
Buchholz began the inning by having to work extra hard to strike out Lynn, the pitcher, and he got Holliday to pop up and Adams to fly out to center field to get out of the inning.
Middle 3rd, 0-0: Lance Lynn certainly brought his A game tonight, as he made short work of Drew (foul pop-up to third), Ross (K) and Buchholz (K).
Buchholz batting there might be an indication that John Farrell, Juan Nieves and the Red Sox are hopeful that Buchholz can give them a few more innings. I say “might” because after last night’s Brandon Workman episode, I’m not sure what to make of Farrell batting a pitcher anymore. Workman only made it two more batters last night, but I think they’re hoping Clay gives them a bit more right now. We’ll see.
End 2nd, 0-0: They don’t ask “how?”, they only ask “how many?”, and right now, the number is zero for Buchholz.
It may not look the same as the normal Buchholz but he got the job done again in the second, despite a one-out double by Yadier Molina and a walk to the next batter, Jon Jay. Buchholz got David Freese to watch strike three, a two-seamer that started away but came back to the plate just enough at 88 mph, and he then got Descalso to ground to short. Stephen Drew wanted to go to third for an easy play but ended up throwing across his body while charging to his right. He threw a perfect strike to Ortiz at first for the final out.
Buchholz is at 30 pitches. Like I said, this may not be an entirely sustainable way for him to pitch, but it’s deceptive enough and his pitches are moving enough that he’s been able to keep the Cardinals off the board thus far.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: The Red Sox got a gift of a hit, when Lynn reached out his foot to kick Ortiz’s broken-bat comebacker. Instead of a routine grounder into the shift, the ball bounced back toward the plate, and Ortiz just beat out Molina’s throw to first.
It didn’t matter though, as Gomes followed up that at-bat with a sharp ground ball to third base. Freese threw to Carpenter, who threw to Adams for an easy 5-4-3 double play to clear the bases. Bogaerts then grounded to short to end the inning, and Lynn is through two at just 23 pitches.
End 1st, 0-0: Clay Buchholz doesn’t have his best stuff, as he was unable to hit 90 mph and spent most of the inning throwing off speed pitches in the low 80s. Nevertheless, he got the job done, retiring Carpenter, Beltran and Holliday in order. If Buchholz pitches like that all night, it’s only a matter of time before the Cardinals start to get their timing right, so any expectations that had Buchholz in the four-inning window might be best. You don’t want to give these guys three looks at Buchholz tonight.
Middle 1st, 0-0: Busch Staidum is rocking after a 1-2-3 inning by Lance Lynn. Ellsbury popped up the second pitch of his at-bat into shallow center, where Descalso made an easy catch, before Nava grounded out to first and Pedroia struck out swinging.
The home crowd is clearly still riding the high of last night, and they are fired up as the Cardinals come to the plate in the first.
Top 1st, 0-0: Lance Lynn’s first pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury is fouled off, and Game 4 is under way at St. Louis.
8:10 p.m.: The anthem was sung by Rascal Flatts, and we’re just a few minutes away from first pitch.
6:44 p.m.: This qualifies as some pretty big news here 90 minutes before game time: Shane Victorino is out.
Ken Rosenthal broke the news with a tweet, saying that the outfielder is suffering from “lower back tightness.” The Red Sox later announced it via Twitter. Jonny Gomes will start in left field, and Daniel Nava will start in right field.
The new Boston lineup is such:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Daniel Nava, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jonny Gomes, LF
6. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
7. Stephen Drew, SS
8. David Ross, C
9. Clay Buchholz, SP
Victorino has battled through all sorts of injuries all year long, so whatever it is that’s keeping him from being 100 percent tonight must be somewhat of a doozy. He was hit by a pitch in Game 3, but he remained in the game.
Victorino is 0-for-10 in the World Series and is hitting .188 in the postseason.
Gomes did not start in Game 3 after he started the first two games of the series. He is 0-for-8 this series and is hitting .152 in the postseason.
6:40 p.m.: John Farrell offered his opinion on the somewhat controversial call last night, saying it was called correctly but the league might want to rethink the wording of the rule.
“You know what, the call was made correctly,” Farrell said. The umpires ‑‑ Jim Joyce, Dana DeMuth, that call was made as it should have been. Probably the more issue personally that I have is with the type B obstruction. If there was the ability to have some measure in there in that portion of judgment, judgment on intent. Because right now there is none. It doesn’t matter if there is intent or not. When Will Middlebrooks is lying on his stomach, it’s hard to say that he was intending to impede that runner’s progress. So the way the obstruction rule is set up right now, the baserunner can be the aggressor and beneficiary on both sides. They can seek out an infielder, run into him, and benefit by advancing. So yesterday when there’s no intent, given the heightened importance of the game at the time and where we are, you’d like to see possibly the type B portion of that rule addressed.”
6:36 p.m.: Here’s what the Cardinals’ lineup will look like tonight.
1. Matt Carpenter, 2B
2. Carlos Beltran, RF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Matt Adams, 1B
5. Yadier Molina, C
6. Jon Jay, CF
7. David Freese, 3B
8. Daniel Descalso, SS
9. Lance Lynn, P
If Buchholz is strong enough, that’s a lineup he should be able to handle.
4:03 p.m.: Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be watching this one from the bench, as David Ross is officially in the starting lineup.
Stephen Drew is also still in at shortstop, as Middlebrooks didn’t exactly tear it up in his first opportunity last night.
Daniel Nava remains in left field after he had a good Game 3, and he should stay there for the rest of the series.
The full Boston lineup is:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Daniel Nava, LF
6. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
7. Stephen Drew, SS
8. David Ross, C
9. Clay Buchholz, SP
3:45 p.m.: A “must-win” is only a must-win for real when the season is actually hanging in the balance. So in the spirit of the true definition, tonight is not a must-win for the Red Sox.
But by just about every other measure, it pretty much is.
It’s really not a dire situation facing the Red Sox. As ugly as the ending to Game 3 was — for both the players and the manager — it was just one game. If Boston can tighten things up and play a solid nine innings, the World Series will be tied up at 2-2, and it’ll be a three-game series going forward to determine this year’s champion.
A few things need to happen for the Red Sox to achieve that outcome. Clay Buchholz is going to have to show some fortitude and pitch through his “soreness.” Stephen Drew, if he plays, is going to have to hit a baseball. Same goes for Jarrod Saltalamacchia if he plays. Will Middlebrooks is going to have to put his body in front of a ground ball if he plays. And John Farrell is going to have to remember that a relief pitcher should never bat in the ninth inning of a World Series game that is tied.
It’s kind of simple, really. If they all shake off the embarrassment of Game 3 and play and manage to their abilities, they should be OK.
But as we’ve seen from Craig Breslow’s wild throw and the adventure from Saltalamacchia and Middlebrooks last night as well as St. Louis’ series of miscues in Game 1, keeping cool is a lot easier said than done in the World Series.
For now, I’ll have the lineups posted here as soon as it’s public. It would make sense for David Ross to step in for Saltalamacchia, because Ross is superior defensively and Saltalamacchia can’t hit anything right now. Defense has proven to be pretty important thus far in the series, so its value shouldn’t be forgotten. Middlebrooks may have hurt his chances of earning a spot in the lineup by playing poor defense last night by going 0-for-2 and seeing just five pitches. Drew has been a trainwreck at the plate, but as soon as he was lifted from Saturday’s game, the Red Sox had problems on the left side of the infield for the first time all postseason.
I’ll have live updates all night, so check back with the live blog as the World Series hinges on Game 4 in St. Louis.