IT’S OVER (10:27, MID 9, 10-3 RAYS)
And mercifully so. Chad Bradford slammed the door on the Red Sox in the ninth. He hit Sean Casey and allowed no other base runners. Not a pretty ballgame tonight. The Rays paid the Sox back for that thumping Monday to move ahead by two games in the AL East. Silver lining: The Twins are losing, 6-4, in the top of the eighth in Cleveland. If that result holds, Boston’s magic number for the wild card will be four.
TAMPA RUNS IT UP (10:15, BOT 8, 10-3)
David Pauley couldn’t keep the truncated mojo created by Delcarmen and Okajima going, allowing a mess of hits and two more runs. John Farrell came out to talk with Pauley, which only led to an RBI single by Pena and an early exit. Pauley recorded only one before Chris Smith came on.
ROLLING ALONG (10:03, MID 8, 8-3 RAYS)
Not much action here as the Red Sox try to come back. It’s now David Pauley, replacing Hideki Okajima, vs. the impressive J.P. Howell. Ortiz flew out this inning, likely ending his bid for a three-homer night. Okajima pitched one inning, recording two strike outs. Pauley is Boston’s seventh pitcher.
SEVEN UP, SIX DOWN FOR DELCARMEN (9:35, END 6, 8-3 RAYS)
With pitches, Delcarmed restored some order to the game for the Red Sox. He retired the first five batters he faced, getting groundball outs from Iwamura and Barlett to begin the inning, before issuing a walk to Carlos Pena. He limited the damage to only that walk, striking out Longoria on an 82-mph changeup. Just imagine what the score might be tonight without David Ortiz and Manny Delcarmen.
YOUKILIS STRANDED (9:25, MID 6, 8-3 RAYS)
Kevin Youkils led off with a bloop double down the right field line, Mark Kotsay followed with a pop to short, the exact kind of out you don’t want with a man at second and none out. He is now 1 for his last 23. Before the game, Francona was asked if there might be any options beside Kotsay, even though the only other option seemed to be call-up Jonathan Van Every. Francona’s respose: Kotsay is “going to play. We’re not going to play Pawtucket down the stretch. I have no intention of not playing. He’ll hit himself right out of this one.” Not yet. Jed Lowrie struck out, then Casey hit another pretty hard ball, but to center for out three.
DELCARMEN MOWS THEM DOWN (9:16, END 5, 8-3 RAYS)
Three easy for outs Delcarmen, whose sharp performance have come a bit too late. Three up, three down. Ruggiano, Gross, and Perez.
DELCARMEN ENTERS (9:12, MID 5, 8-3 RAYS)
The Sox use their fifth pitcher of the night as Manny Delcarmen enters the game. Ortiz nearly got the Sox back in the game, but his deep fly died in the outfield. With the off day tomorrow, Francona is free to use his bullpen will less of a penalty than usual.
SOX KNOCK OUT GARZA (9:03, TOP 5, 8-3)
Pedroia singled with two outs in the fifth, pushing Ellsbury, who reached on a fielder’s choice, to second base. Rays manager Joe Maddon had had enough, and Garza, who had been acting as the ace of sorts for the Rays, is now on the bench. Grant Balfour is in.
AT LAST, A ZERO (8:49, END 4, 8-3 RAYS)
The Rays didn’t score in an inning for the first time tonight. The inning did included some more fielding adventures by the Sox pitchers. Aybar hit a strange, looping pop directly over the mound. Aardsma stumbled off the back of the hill, stuck his glove out and awkwardly stabbed at the ball, which fell harmlessly to the turf. Lowrie or Pedroia maybe could have been more aggressive and saved Aardsma from making a tricky play. That was the Red Sox third error tonight the official scorer changed it to a hit. I agree — it was just too funky of a hit. This is still turning into one of the Red Sox most unsightly games of the year.
Manny Delcarmen is waming up in the Boston bullpen.
TOUGH NIGHT FOR THE MAYOR (8:41, MID 4, 8-3 RAYS)
The Red Sox couldn’t push any more across, in part because Casey was robbed for the second time tonight. He lashed a ball to the right side that one-hopped as Iwamaura dove and made a backhanded stab. He didn’t field the ball cleanly, but he knocked it down, picked it up and fired to first in plenty of time.
Aardsma is still in the game.
ORTIZ UNLOADS (8:33, TOP 4, 8-3 RAYS)
If they awarded runs based on how far a home run travels, the Red Sox might be ahead. Ortiz jacked another home run, an absoulte bomb. It looked like it flew over the D Ring catwalk, but really it just hit it and stayed in the catwalk. That’s the fourth ball that has ever been lodged in a cat walk; two have happened this series. On Monday, Jason Bay hit the C Ring catwalk for a home run. Anyway, good Lord, what a shot by Ortiz. This is his third multi-homer game this season, the 33d of his career.
THE THIRD INNING IS OVER! (8:27, END 3, 8-2 RAYS)
Aardsma got Bartlett to bounce back to him. He successfully fielded the ball and threw to third. That was ugly. That half inning took 27 minutes, needed four pitchers, and saw nine batters. And now the Red Sox get to try to chip away at a six-run defecit against Matt Garza.
A WALK, AND A NEW PITCHER (8:24, BOT 3, 8-2 RAYS)
Lopez walked Iwamura to load the bases with two outs, and Francona called for Aardsma, the Red Sox fourth pitcher of the inning. It’s getting ugly. The Red Sox might try to forget about this game before it’s even over.
Lopez did not get an out, made an error, walked a batter, and gave up a hit. That might be the bizzaro pitching equivalent of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Jason Bartlett is up.
EGADS (8:20, BOT 3, 8-2 RAYS)
Lopez made a shield-your-eyes error that gave the Rays another run. Gross topped a bounding ball toward the mound, moving at about the speed a 10-year-old throws a baseball. Lopez stabbed at it with his glove, and the ball kept on bouncing — somehow, he totally missed the ball. Longoria trotted home when Lopez’s throw, after he recovered, was late. Perez compounded the issues when he roped a single to right. It’s really not your night when Fernando Perez has two RBIs before the third inning is over.
Iwamura is up. David Aardsma is throwing in the ‘pen.
HANSACK OUT, LOPEZ IN (8:13, BOT 3, 6-2 RAYS)
Devern Hansack recorded one out, a strike out of Justin Ruggiano, before Terry Francona called for Javier Lopez. He enters with two outs and men on first and third. All those fans are making some headache-inducing noise right now, even as Lopez throws his warm-ups. Gabe Gross is up.
RAYS PILE ON (6-2, BOT 3, 6-2 RAYS)
Aybar hit a bouncer up the middle, which Pedroia, somehow, tracked down in shallow center with a dive. Rays third base coach Tom Foley windmilled Longoria home, anyway, and Pedroia buzzed the ball home. The throw tailed a bit toward the third base side, and Longoria made a great slide, inside of the plate, to avoid Cash’s tag and score a run. Aybar scampered to second. He went to third when Hansack’s pick-off attempt rolled into center field. He’s still on third, and Navarro, who walked, is on first.
Wakefiled threw 51 pitches, 34 of them strikes. Unlike in Texas about 11 days, control was not the problem. The Rays just smacked him around. He is charged with six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, and he allowed three home runs.
This game is the Rays’ sixth sellout of the year, with 36,048 in attendance.
WAKEFIELD DONE, HANSACK IN (8:03, BOT 3, 5-2 RAYS)
Tim Wakefield is through after he allowed a double to Evan Longoria with one out in the third inning. Wakefiled, so far, has allowed five runs on six hits; he’s responsible for Longoria, too. For the second time in three starts, Wakefield did not make it out of the third inning. To be fair, the start in between he threw eight shutout innings against the Blue Jays at Fenway. Still, this is troubling sign. Will the inconsistency give Paul Byrd an advantage for becoming the fourth playoff starter?
DOUBLING UP (8:00, MID 3, 5-2 RAYS)
Garza struck out Kevin Cash with a nice slider to open the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury beat out his second hit of the night, a smash to first off Carlos Pena’s glove. He was erased, though, when Dustin Pedroia hit into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play.
MORE FIREWORKS (7:48, BOT 2, 5-2 RAYS)
The knuckleball doesn’t seem to be knucling tonight, dome or no dome. With one out, Gabe Gross and Fernando Perez — the eighth and ninth batters — slammed back-to-back home runs, Gross’s to right, Perez’s to left. Devern Hansack is throwing in the bullpen already. Iwamura is up with the bases empty, still one out.
NOTHIN’ DOIN’ (7:42, MID 2, 3-2 RAYS)
Things quieted down as Garza retired Jed Lowrie, Sean Casey, and Coco Crisp in order. Casey had some tough luck in a rare start, lining to center and getting robbed by Fernando Perez’s great diving catch.
Of note: Wakefield’s rocky first comes as a surprise. He’s always excelled in domes, and Tropicana Field is no different. Before tonight, he had a 9-2 record and a 2.45 ERA here. He also had three saves in four chances.
SOX LOSE LEAD QUICK (7:36, END 1, 3-2 RAYS)
Pena came through with a sacrifice fly to center field. After Bartlett stole second and Wakefield retired Evan Longoria, Willy Aybar, making his first start this series and first career at-bat against Wakefield, clobbered a home run well over the left field fence. Wakefiled escaped with no further, which isn’t saying much.
ORTIZ CRUSHES ONE (7:26, BOT 1, 2-0 SOX)
David Ortiz destoryed his second home run of the series in the top of the first, pummelling a 1-1 change from Matt Garza well over the right field fence. It was a classic Ortiz shot — he spun slowly, flicked his bat toward the Red Sox dug out, then began his home run lumber around the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury, who led off with a single, scored on the blast.
The Rays are trying to respond in the bottom half. Akinori Iwamura led off with a single, stole second and wen to third on Jason Bartlett’s opposite-field single off Tim Wakefield. Carlos Pena, a developing Sox killer, is up now with no outs.