End 9, 10:07: 8-3. Manny Delcarmen plows through a 1-2-3 ninth. Sox win easily, 8-3.
End of 8, 10:00. 8-3: Duck of the commentariat is wondering if Bard's inherited run ends the scoreless streak. After a check with a Sox stats guy -- only if you want it to. The Sox bullpen hadn't given up an inhereted run or a run of its own in 22 innings. Now, it hasn't given up a run of its own in 23 innings. Outside of a Pedroia single, the Sox go down quietly in the eighth.
Middle 8, 9:54. 8-3: Bard continues to parade his velocity, fooling Mark Ellis on a ball in the dirt after a series of fastballs. Kurt Suzuki's groundout to Lowrie ended the scoreless streak and scored Hairston, but none of it will go on Bard's books. 8-3, Sox.
9:51: Varitek can't catch up to one of Bard's 99-mph fastballs and it catches home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom on the arm. That's up there with "I got punched in the face by Mike Tyson" and "I went in the paint when Isiah Thomas told me not to" in The Greatest Harrowing Stories to Tell Friends When You're 80.
9:46: No problems to start. Bard's 99-mph fastball sits down Jack Cust swinging.
Top 8, 9:44. 8-2: Beckett gives up a triple to Scott Hairston and is jettisoned for Daniel Bard. He'll have to whip out that 100-mph heat in order to preserve the 22-inning scoreless streak the bullpen has accrued since the All-Star Break.
Bottom 7, 9:37. 8-2: Lowrie inside-outs a meatball just out of reach of Orlando Cabrera and Adam Kennedy and it slices into the stands. That's a bases-loaded ground-rule double for Jed Lowrie, who leaves every ball cover-less with the bases loaded. He's a career .333 hitter with 15 RBI and, now, three doubles when the bases are loaded. The Sox lead 8-2, and it looks like Josh Beckett will return, that ovation-hog.
Middle 7, 9:20. 6-2: With Bard warming and a somewhat tricky inning behind him -- one run on a double, a single and a deep sac fly -- Beckett should be done. He threw his 99th pitch to end the inning, but the crowd senses a departure and rises to lend some props. This should vault Beckett to 7-0 at Fenway Park and the fanbase back to some level of consciousness resembling sanity.
Top 6, 8:55. 6-1: Oakland rallies on a series of singles and a walk -- they even break up the shutout with a Kurt Suzuki base hit -- but Beckett battles out and strikes out the side. The last pitch was a bases-loaded crippler, this inside fastball that buckled Ryan Sweeney so bad he was temporarily knee-less. 6-1, Sox, but Beckett remains dominant.
Bottom 5, 8:42. 6-0: The Sox rally with no outs. Jason Bay drives in Kevin Youkilis to push the lead up to 6-0. It's just his fourth RBI of the month, but every bat is working tonight.
Cahill gets a double-play to end the inning, but, with over 100 pitches and six runs allowed so far, he should be done. Santiago Casilla is warming.
Bottom 4, 8:25. 5-0 Adam LaRoche smacks his second double off the Monster, scoring Jason Bay from second. He was previously swooning at the thing. After two doubles today (this one high above the Covidien sign) and a home run over the Monster in his debut, he can live in it if he wants to, all Keebler Elf-like, for all the Sox care. (Or Manny Ramirez-like, for all we know.)
The double, a Varitek RBI base knock and an Ellsbury infield single brings the score up to 5-0, with no signs of struggle, at last.
Top 4, 8:06, 2-0. Beckett strikes out two more, throwing in some more breaking pitches as he progresses. He's making Scott Hairston -- who has swung over two strike threes tonight -- look almost as uncomfortable as a Mets press conference. Almost.
Top 3, 7:53. 2-0: Ellsbury drives a shot to the Rollerball corner in right field and it turns up an easy triple. It's his fourth this year. Pedroia's second RBI of the night came one sac fly later. This "scoring runners in scoring position" thing isn't so bad! 2-0, Sox.
Bottom 2, 7:48. 1-0: Beckett is both lucky and good tonight. Eric Patterson reached on an infield single. Trying to take second, he proceeded to run over the bag in a hurry to get back on a routine pop up to first. The post-play check at second turned up an out. One more pop-out later, Beckett was out of the inning clean again.
Top 2, 7:38, 1-0: Beckett is blowing by hitters left and right. He has only given up a one-out double to Ryan Sweeney and he's up to four Ks so far. The velocity show will be one-sided tonight. A's pitcher Trevor Cahill couldn't crack 84 mph in high school, and subsequently couldn't crack his high school team's rotation. Kind of like Michael Jordan, except not at all.
Bottom 1, 7:24. 1-0: The other oppressively heavy thing today is the trade talk centered around the Sox attaining another bat. Pedroia's solo blast to left, clanging off the left light tower, quiets the talk for a second. 1-0, Sox.
Middle 1, 7:15. 0-0: Josh Beckett is a heat factory already, as if we needed more of it in Boston today. Two strikeouts on six pitches. The inning was only slightly marred by his own error, but that turned up nothing. He's 6-0 at home this year so far.