Game over, crisis continues: Rays 9, Red Sox 1
The Sox have lost five straight for the first time since they started 0-6. They also have lost seven of eight and nine of 11.
The Rays are now 3.5 games behind in the wild card. They have 17 games left, the Sox 16. The teams start a four-game series in Fenway on Thursday.
The odds say the Sox will be OK. What we're seeing on the field suggests otherwise. This is a dead team playing poor baseball.
Meanwhile the Yankees are losing 5-4 in Anaheim. Maybe the Rays will threaten for the division, too.
Top of the 9th: Rays 9, Red Sox 1
The Sox have subbed out Pedroia, Gonzalez, Crawford and Varitek. Conor Jackson pinch hit and lined out. Did you know he's hitless in 26 at-bat going back to Aug. 12.
Shields is staying in
Top of the 8th: Rays 9, Red Sox 1
The had a single from Scutaro but that was it. In the bottom of the inning, a throwing error by Pedroia helped give the Rays a run off Doubront. The Sox aren't just losing, they're playing a poor brand of baseball.
Top of the 7th: Rays 8, Red Sox 1
The Sox went in order in the top of the sixth. The Rays loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but didn't score. This could very easily be 11-1.
Sox pitchers have hit three batters in the series, the Rays none. Wonder if that changes in the next inning or two?
Top of the 6th: Rays 8, Red Sox 1
Bowden loaded the bases with two outs. Francona then called in Matt Albers. You'll recall that on Wednesday Albers came into the game with the bases loaded and allowed a three-run double by Edwin Encarnacion. This time it was a grand slam by B.J. Upton.
It's all over today barring a miracle. Meanwhile the Yankees are already losing in Anaheim.
Middle of the 5th: Rays 4, Red Sox 1
Aviles singled and got picked off. Ellsbury then walked but that was it.
Lester is done. Bowden in to pitch.
Top of the 5th: Rays 4, Red Sox 1
Lester out two more runners on but left them there as Damon lined to right to end the inning. If the Sox come back to win this game, the Rays will regret letting Lester off the hook to some degree. They've scored four runs against him but also left three runners in scoring position.
Lester is at 111 pitches. Have to think that's it. But nobody is warming right now.
Middle of the 4th: Rays 4, Red Sox 1
Quick inning for Shields after the long third inning. Crawford (center), Varitek (left) and Scutaro (right) had the fly ball cycle.
Top of the 4th: Ray 4, Red Sox 1
Lester just doesn't have it today. Damon tripled and scored on a double by Rodriguez. Lester through 3 innings: 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 85 pitches.
Middle of the 3rd: Rays 3, Red Sox 1
Marco Scutaro homered to get the Sox on the board. But they should have done more damage.
Aviles followed the homer with a single and Ellsbury walked. Pedroia had a good at-bat but struck out. He is 3 of his last 33 with no RBIs and has struck out nine times with one walk.
Gonzalez walked to load the bases. But David Ortiz (2 for 10 in the series) popped to left. Reddick then fouled out on a 3-1 pitch.
Top of the 3rd: Rays 3, Red Sox 0
Lester put two runners on but escaped without letting up a run. He has thrown 69 pitches. Doubront was down in the bullpen stretching.
Sox starters have allowed 20 earned runs over 19 innings in the last five games.
Middle of the 2nd: Rays 3, Red Sox 0
Reddick and Crawford had singles with one out. Then Varitek bounced into a 4-6-3 double play. This is the second time in three starts that Lester needed 43 pitches to get through the first inning. The same thing happened against the Yankees on Sept. 1. But he gave up one run in that game.
Top of the second: Rays 3, Red Sox 0
Lobaton struck out. Lester threw 43 pitches in that inning. Now seems like the time:
Bottom of the 1st: Rays 3, Red Sox 0
So Jon Lester is about to throw his 39th pitch. Damon reached on a fieder's choice. Rodriguez then had a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. A single by Kotchman drove Damon to third and now Jose Lobaton is up. He's 1 for 14 this season.
Bottom of the 1st: Rays 2, Red Sox 0
So a funny thing has happened to the idea of Jon Lester being a stopper: He can't get anybody out.
Jennings singled. Upton reached on an infield single. Longoria walked on four pitches. Then the criminally underrated Zobrist ripped a two-run single to left. This is a disaster in the making.
Lester had gone five consecutive starts without giving up more than one earned run. That streak ended in four batters.
Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0
Easy inning for Shields. Ellsbury and Pedroia grounded to first before Gonzalez struck out.
Pre-game: Good afternoon from Tropicana Field, where the Red Sox will try and end their four-game losing streak with Jon Lester on the mound. We're checking with baseball historians to see if any team has ever made the playoffs after having a 3.5 game lead in the wild card with 16 left.
We'll have updates all game long, so hang out here for observations and feel free to add your comments.
By the way, according to Baseball Prospectus, the Red Sox have a 98.7 percent chance of making the playoffs. Somehow that doesn't seem possible, But those guys are very smart.