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John Smoltz (1-4, 7.04) vs. Jeremy “Woody” Guthrie (7-9, 5.21)
Today is Trade Deadline Day! The Red Sox beat the deadline to acquire Victor Martinez in exchange for Justin Masterson, and minor leaguers Nick Hagadone and Brian Price. (Cleveland will no doubt please their fans, as they made the trade on Victor Martinez Bobblehead Night.)
The new guys won’t be arriving in Baltimore in time to play tonight. The Red Sox have called up minor league pitcher Marcus McBeth and right fielder of the future Josh Reddick for tonight. As a live blogger who always needs material, I’m really hoping for a McBeth appearance tonight. Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires.
So is John Smoltz pitching for his spot in the rotation tonight? If he gets rocked again, he could be moved to the bullpen, as there is a spot open there with Masterson gone. Michael Bowden could come up and join the rotation. Or maybe Schmoltz will finally get it together. He looked like he was on his way to doing that last time he started in Baltimore, until the rains came down and he had to leave the game, and the bullpen blew the 10-1 lead in that nightmarish game.
Ellsbury steps in against Guthrie. Jacoby has a big bandage wrapped around his forearm– did he give blood today or something? Anyway, he cracks a base hit to right field to start things off.
More Red Sox garb than Orioles gear visible in the crowd near home plate. Pedroia swings and misses at a 93-mph fastball for the first out. Youks is next, and he works the count to 2-2. Guthrie misses with ball 3 as Ellsbury takes off for second! The throw bounces away as Ellsbury slides in with the stolen base, but he doesn’t notice in time, and has to stay at second.
Youks pops to shallow right, bringing up Ortiz. He gets a mix of loud cheers and boos, unsurprisingly. He takes three straight balls from Guthrie, then a called strike, then misses with a big hack at a curveball. On a full count, he is caught looking at a curve on the outside corner for strike three, to end the inning. He gripes at the ump, but that’s not going to help. 0-0 midway through the first.
B. Roberts leads off for the O’s, and works the count full, then bounces out softly to Pedroia. Next is the second-greatest baseball player named Nolan of all time. Smoltz drills him in the back with a fastball for some reason.
One on, one out for Adam “I am not Pacman Dammit!” Jones. He smacks one hard at Lowell, who grabs it and starts the around-the-horn 5-4-3 inning-ending DP. Scoreless after 1.
Jason Bay (19 home runs as a Canadian this year, only 1 as an American) leads off with a walk. Lowell follows with a sharp grounder up the middle that Izturis can only deflect into center field for a hit.
Two on, no one out for Varitek. And Guthrie walks him on 5 pitches to load the bases. Rocco Baldelli with a big RBI opportunity. He’s got to come through here, with the slumping Nick Green on deck.
Guthrie is drenched in sweat now, as he gets the count to 2-2. Baldy pops one to shallow left that Reimold runs in on and grabs, and the runners have to hold. Rico not Suave. Could be a big squander here.
Greenzo picks him up though, and knocks a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Bay from third with the first run of the night.
Ellsbury follows with a chopper that Izturis charges. He grabs it and fires on the run, but Ellsbury clearly beats it by about 5 steps. But the umpire calls him out, ending the inning. Francona’s out to argue, but this is one that he won’t win. 1-0 Sox after 1 and a half.
The NESN replay shows Ellsbury was clearly safe, but it’s too late now. Nick Markakis steps in. Smoltz falls behind 3-0, battles back to 3-2, then gives up a base hit up the middle.
Grand Ol’ Aubrey Huff is next, and he bloops one into shallow center. Ellsbury comes racing in and dives, but he just misses it. Mark Acres holds second base. Two on and no one out for Ty Wigginton.
Smoltz has been really susceptible to big innings this year, he must avoid one here. He’s allowed 4 or more runs in a single inning in 3 of his 6 starts, and also a 3-run inning in another. That’s 15 of his 24 runs allowed this season coming in just 4 innings.
This time he gets Wigginton to ground back to the mound– Smoltz grabs it and starts a 1-4-3 double play!
Markakis on third and two out now for Luke Scott. Don’t use the force, Luke.
He doesn’t, instead Smoltz whiffs him for the third out. Nice work to get out of that one by Smoltz. 1-0 good guys after 2.
Pedroia, Youks and Ortiz for the Sox this inning. Pedroia starts things by bashing one to deep right, but Markakis runs back to the wall, leaps, and grabs it for the out. Wouldn’t have been a home run, but it would’ve been extra bases if not for the nice grab.
Youks flares one into shallow right center that falls for a hit.
Ortiz is next, and he gets ahead 3-0. He swings away at the 3-0 pitch, and belts one to deep right center. Markakis can’t get this one, it’s gone for a 2-run shot!
Guthrie is going through some Hard Times now. He’s got the Worried Man Blues. It’s like a Dust Storm Disaster for him. He’s Going Down that Road Feelin’ Bad.
Bay follows by cracking a sharp grounder in the hole between third and short, but Izturis dives and grabs it, then throws out Bay at first. Hail Cesar for the nice play.
Lowell belts a shot to deep left, but Reimold goes back to the wall, and reaches up over the top of the fence to make the catch! So close, yet so close. The Sox almost had 4 runs that inning, but they’ll settle for 2. Guthrie was very fortunate, the Red Sox, not so much. We’re Talkin’ Hard Rock Blues. 3-0 Boston in the third.
Matt Wieters starts the inning for the Orioles by banging a base hit to left. For some reason, Izturis decides to bunt. Smoltz charges in, barehands it and fires off-balance to get the out, nice athleticism from the old man.
Roberts grounds one to Green, who moves to his right to grab it in the hole. Greenzo has a great chance to get the runner at third, but he hurries his throw, bouncing it past Lowell for a run-scoring error.
Nolan Rye Mold is up, with a man on first and one out. Smoltz leaves one belt-high, and Reimold crushes it to deep right– it hits high off the top of the electric scoreboard and bounces back– did it go out? The umps say yes! It’s a 2-run shot, and suddenly the game is tied. Good god, this has turned horrible very quickly.
Francona is out to argue, and he gets the umps to agree to check the video on the call. Francona is the best manager I’ve ever seen at arguing with umpires, he routinely gets them to change their calls or at least review them.
Alas, this one’s not going to be overturned. It’s 3-3, and it’s Smoltz’s 5th inning of 3 or more runs allowed in 7 starts. As Woody Guthrie used to sing, “It was sad when that great ship went down.”
Not-Pacman is next, and Smoltz gets him to ground out to Green, who this time doesn’t throw it away. Smoltz works to a full count against Nick Mark Acres, then gives up a one-hop smash that Youkilis flags down. He trots to first for the out, but the damage has been done. 3-3 after 3.
Varitek flies out to right on the second pitch, and then Baldelli is quickly called out on strikes for the second out, bringing up our new Lugo. Green has fallen down to .243 on the season now, in addition to his fielding woes. He does nothing to help himself or the team by popping to left on the second pitch. Nice 8-pitch inning against a pitcher who was on the ropes. Just awful hitting. What’s the hurry? Still 3-3 in the 4th.
Huff Daddy leads off for Baltimore by chopping one behind the bag at first. Youkilis handles it easliy, and flips to Smoltz for the first out. Wigginton follows by flying out to Baldelli, who runs over toward center and grabs it in front of the track.
Luke Scott is next. Smoltz falls behind 2-0. Come on Smoltz, don’t be a Luke Scottwalker. He battles back, getting the count to 2-2, then Scott dinks a roller between the mound and first. Youks charges, but Smoltz dives for it and grabs it, but there’s no one left to cover first, and it’s a stupid lucky cheap hit for Scott.
Matt Wieters steps in. He hits another grounder to the right side, but Pedroia is there and makes the play to end the inning. 3-3 after 4.
Ellsbury starts things by ripping a blast to deep right, and it goes over the scoreboard for a leadoff home run! It’s Ellsbury’s 6th home run of the year.
Pedroia falls behind 0-2, but ends up flaring a base hit to left, as Brian Bass starts warming up in the bullepn for the O’s.
Youkilis up with a man on and one out. Oops, make that no one on and one out, as Pedroia tries to steal but is gunned down by Wieters, who has a cannon for an arm. Seems pretty foolish to run into an out when you have the pitcher really struggling like this. Why give him a free out?
Youkilis makes the caught-stealing look even worse, as he clangs a base hit to left. Ortiz follows with a routine flyout to Markakis in right.
Bay follows by popping out to Roberts to end the inning. Guthrie survives the inning, and is only down one run despite looking really unimpressive so far. 4-3 Boston in the 5th.
Cesar Izturis starts the inning by flying out to Ellsbury in shallow center, and Roberts quickly does the same. Young Reimold is next. Smoltz gets ahead 1-2, then apparently misses with a slider that must have been… I don’t know, maybe inside somehow? The next pitch is not as good, but still over the plate, and Reimold is called out on strikes. Still 4-3 Boston after 5.
Guthrie is still in the game, as the Sox have let him off the hook all night. he gets Lowell to fly out to shallow left for the first out. Varitek does the same for the second out, as Guthrie is settling down now. Baldelli does nothing to change that, grounding out weakly to end the inning. Guthrie’s hung around and hung around, and still can win this game. Why can’t a dish break a hammer?
Why oh why oh why? ‘Cause a hammer’s a hard head. Goodbye goodbye goodbye. 4-3 Sox in the 6th.
Mr. Jones starts the home half of the 6th by flying out easily to Ellsbury. But Markakis drills one to deep right, off the top of the scoreboard, just barely staying in the park. Goes for a double.
Grand Ol’ Aubrey Huff follows and quickly crushes one to deep center. It’s out of here, a 2-run homer, and very quickly the Orioles are winning. Yet another crooked number allowed by Smoltz.
Wigginton grounds one to Green, who doesn’t throw it away this time, but instead gets the out at first. Luke Scott drills one deep to center field, over the fence for– NO! Ellsbury races back, leaps, and catches the ball over the fence for the out! He turns a home run into the inning-ending out. Fantastic, run-saving catch. Still, the Sox trail 5-4 after 6.
Guthrie is still in there. Down one in the 7th, Green leads off, and is not pinch-hit for. I don’t understand things sometimes.
Green predictably rolls a weak grounder to the right side, and is out as Guthrie covers the bag. Ellsbury is due next. How often does the guy who makes a fantastic catch bat second the next inning? I don’t know. Who cares anyway?
Ellsbury cracks a base hit to left, his third hit of the game. Boston would be down by 3 or 4 runs if not for Ellsbury tonight.
Guthrie at 104 pitches, and Brian “Largemouth” Bass and Matt “Prince” Albers are warming in the bullpen. Yet Guthrie stays in to face MVP Pedroia. Eh, if you’re Baltimore, why not? A tired Guthrie is probably still better than most of their relievers. Also, if you’re Baltimore, you have way bigger problems than this.
And Guthrie fans Pedroia. I can’t remember the last time that Pedroia has gone down swinging twice in the same game. It’s a rare occurrence, I would guess.
In the NESN booth, commentator Dave Roberts is pleading with Ellsbury to steal second. 2-1 count to Youkilis, Ellsbury might be going here.
He does not. Instead of running into the inning-ending out, he stays put and has a real good view of Youkilis crushing a shot to deep left, way out for a two-run home run! And that’s finally going to be it for Guthrie. So long, it’s been good to know ya. Pitching change.
The O’s bring in right-hander Matt Albers to face Ortiz. According to his myspace page, he’s Acoustic, Alternative and Lyrical. Okay. Ortiz greets him by ripping a shot to deep center. It hits halfway up on the wall, for a double– no, it’s Ortiz running, and Jones fires to second, where third baseman Ty Wigginton is covering, and Ortiz is out by five feet. Guess steroids don’t help you run faster. With the second baseman and shortstop both playing right field, he bashes one off the centerfield fence and is still thrown out at second by a mile? Really? 6-5 Boston in the 7th.
Ramon Ramirez is in to pitch for the Sox. Wieters greets him by cracking a base hit to left. Weak hitting Cesar Izturis will surely sacrifice here. But no! He swings away, and flies out to left.
Ramirez, who hasn’t been sharp lately, gets ahead 0-2 on Brian Roberts. Roberts grounds one back to the mound that Ramirez knocks into the air. He grabs the ball, looks at second, decides to throw there, and heaves the ball into center field.
Another error, now there are two on with one out for Reimold. He cracks a sharp grounder down the third baseline that Lowell backhands nicely. He gets the force out at third on the lead runner– big play there, as a hit would’ve been really damaging.
Now there are two on and two out for Adam Jones. He grounds one to short. The runner on second, Roberts, stops to get in the way, but Green handles it anyway and flips to Pedroia for the force to end the inning! What a wild game this has been. Now let’s score about 6 more runs and make it boring. 6-5 Sox after 7.
Bay starts the 8th by rolling one to short. Izturis charges and tries to barehand it, but he can’t come up with it. It’s a cheap little single for Bay.
Lowell is next, and he cracks a hard grounder to the left side, but it’s right at Wigginton. The Orioles have about 6 minutes to turn the 5-4-3 DP with Lowell running. They only need about 3 and a half minutes though, so Lowell’s out by 20 feet.
Varitek ends the inning with a routine flyout to Jones in center. 6-5 Sox in the 8th.
Okajima comes in to face the dangerous lefty Nick Mark Acres. I’m not getting a great feeling about this game– there have been some really weird things happening in games between these teams this year, and Okajima historically has been horrible against Baltimore, 0-3, 6.75 in 20 career innings against the birds.
Oki scoffs at history by whiffing Markakis. Grand Ol’ Aubrey is next, and he works the count full. Okajima misses with a breaking ball in the dirt, and the tying run is on base.
Ty Wigginton is up. If a 9-run lead isn’t safe in Baltimore, then this one-run lead can’t be. Okajima walks Wigginton. Please stop using him against the Orioles, pleaseIambeggingyouplease.
The dangerous Luke Scott is next, with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. The Immortal Bard is warming in the bullpen for Boston. (They should get McBeth warming up next to him, just as a tribute to William Shakespeare.)
Okajima gets Scott to foul out on a pop to Youkilis for the second out. For some reason the Camden Yards music guy starts playing Hell’s Bells by AC-DC. Is it because the hot-hitting future superstar Matt Wieters is up next? Or did a Sox fan break into the music system and assume that Bard is coming into the game?
Well he’s not, so you hacked into their PA system for nothing. Okajima stays in the game. Wieters greets him by crushing a liner back up the middle, but Okajima snags it for the inning-ending out! Wow, that was close, and scary in several ways, but Okajima got the job done. 6-5 Boston after 8.
Former Sox reliever Cla “Sometimes Y” Meredith is in to pitch for Baltimore. And pinch-hitting for Baldelli is Josh Reddick, making his big league debut! Alas, he can only roll out to Izturis for the first out.
So we pinch hit for Baldelli, but not Green. Lowrie must really need the night off. Meredith fans Green, as Greenzo chases a pitch out of the zone for the 4,000th time this month.
Ellsbury up next. He cracks one to left, but can’t get it over the head of big Reimold, who reaches up to make the catch in front of the track. 6-5 Sox in the 9th.
Bottom of the 9th
Papelbon is in to try to close this out. Oh boy, grab your rosaries. Reddick stays in the game in RF.
Felix Pie will pinch hit for Izturis. That’s pronounced P.A., not pie. Papelbon gets ahead 0-2. His next pitch catches a lot of the plate, but P.A. just fouls it straight back. Papelbon does his pouty-lipped stare thing, and fires. His pitch is just a bit outside. He misses again, by a lot, evening the count.
Pie fouls off another one– he’s starting to become really annoying. Papelbon fires again, and this time PA’s foul goes into Varitek’s mitt for a strikeout.
Roberts is next. Papelbon is heaving fastball after fastball this inning. He gets ahead 1-2, then misses badly with another heater. Roberts fouls off another, and Papelbon misses high and tight. On a full-count pitch, Roberts skies one to left center. Ellsbury is over easily to make the grab for the second out.
It all comes down to young Reimold. Papelbon gets ahead 1-2. He stares in with his mouth gaping for about 4 and a half minutes. He finally fires a high heater, and Rye Mold swings and misses! Sox win! Boston 6, Baltimore 5 is the final.
This is a good start to the road trip, as the Sox have a lot of ground to make up. But they have reinforcements on the way tomorrow.
The big contributors tonight were Youkilis with the huge game-winning two-run homer, and Ellsbury, who had three hits (really four, thanks ump) a stolen base, and an incredible game-saving catch. Smoltz gets a rather undeserved win, so maybe that will get him going.
The White Sox lead the Yankees 6-5 so far. Could we please have two games tonight ending with 6-5 Sox wins?