THAT’S ALL (3:51, END 9, 3-0 SOX)
Papelbon wrapped it up, allowing only a single to Wells. Scutaro grounded to short, Rios chopped a grounder to third, where Lowrie made a nice off-balance throw, Wells hit one up the midde, and Lind flied deep to Bay in left. Fitting that a Canadian makes the final Sox out of the season in Rogers Centre.
The Red Sox take the weekend series, 2-1, and square the season series with Toronto at 9-9. At worst, the Red Sox will tie for the wild card. The Sox clinch the wild card with a win or a Yankees loss. Dice-K is 18-2.
The Red Sox finish the season 39-42 on the road. Six teams — 1918 Red Sox, 1945 Tigers, 1987 Twins, 1997 Marlins, 2003 Marlins, and 2006 Cardinals — have won the World Series after finishing below .500 on the road.
The Rays lost, 4-1, to the Twins, moving the Red Sox within 1 1/2 games in the AL East, but it’s really 2 1/2 because the Rays have the tiebreaker.
HERE COMES PAPELBON (3:40, MID 9, 3-0 SOX)
The Red Sox went in order in the ninth, maintaining a save situation for Jonathan Papelbon. If he shuts down the Blue Jays, he’ll convert his 40th save of the year.
OKAJIMA PICKS UP WHERE DICE-K LEFT OFF (3:32, END 8, 3-0 SOX
Okajima rolled through the Blue Jays, not allowing a ball through the infield. Snider grounded to second, Thigpen struck out, and Inglett lined softly to Pedroia.
PEDROIA DOUBLES, GETS STRANDED (3:22, MID 8, 3-0 SOX)
Pedroia grounded a shot down the third-base line into the corner and strolled into second with a double. He stole third after Ortiz popped to the infield, but Youkilis couldn’t bring him home, lining softly to third. Jason Bay couldn’t either, breaking his bat on a 3-2 groundout to short.
Hideki Okajima is running in from the bullpen to pitch the eighth.
MATSUZAKA KEEPS IT ROLLING (3:16, END 7, 3-0 SOX)
Dice-K finished his fourth 1-2-3 inning and added another strikeout, giving him six. He’s thrown 109 pitches, so his day is probably done. He added another stellar outing to his outstanding season. In his last five starts, including today, he’s allowed seven earned runs in 31 innings. He yielded just two hits today.
DEFENSIVE CHANGES (3:08, BOT 7, 3-0 SOX)
Alex Cora is in the game for Sean Casey and playing shortstop. Jed Lowrie moved to third, and Youkilis moved to first.
SOX GO QUIETLY (3:06, MID 7, 3-0 SOX)
Some nice work by former Oriole John Parrish right now. Lowrie hit a weak grounder to third and Casey followed with a pop to second. Varitek crushed a single off the wall in left, a ball hit too hard to stretch to a double. Ellsbury couldn’t keep his extra-base hit run going against a lefty, though. He ripped a ball foul, then popped out.
DICE-K GETS IT DONE (2:58, END 6, 3-0 SOX)
Inglett never moved past second base. Scutaro flied to right, Rios popped up to third and Wells bounced one back to the mound. Quite an outing for Matsuzaka so far.
Brad Wilkerson is in at first and Jose Bautista is in at third. Scott Rolen and Lyle Overbay are out of the game.
HANSACK WARMING UP (2:53, BOT 6, 3-0 SOX)
Joe Inglett led off with a double to left-center, and Devern Hansack has started throwing in the bullpen. Given that Dice-K has a two-hitter and has thrown about 90 pitches, it’s possible Hansack is only getting some work in.
PARRISH IN FOR RICHMOND (2:43, TOP 6, 3-0 SOX)
Lefthander John Parrish has come in from the bullpen to begin the inning. Ortiz flied to right. He struck out Youkilis after Youkilis belted a pitch foul down the left-field line. Bay walked but Kotsay chopped to third to end the inning.
MATSUSAKA MOSTLY SHARP (2:39, END 5, 3-0 SOX)
Dice-K will carry a one-hitter (and two-walker) into the sixth inning. He walked Snider with two outs after going to 2-2. That’s what’s got to drive you nuts — judging by Snider’s swings, he has no chance aginast Matsuzaka today. And yet, ball four nearly hit him on his back foot. Dice-K could have got out of the inning having thrown 78 pitches total. He struck out Thigpen on three pitches, so that didn’t matter too much. But still …
ELLSBURY HAVING A DAY (2:30, MID 5, 3-0 SOX)
He hurt his chances for the cycle, but he’s putting together one of the his best games of the year. Ellsbury drilled a two-out double to right, making him 3 for 3 with three extra-base hits. Pedroia couldn’t bring him home, flying to right.
ANOTHER FAST DICE-K INNING (2:24, END 4, 3-0 SOX)
Matsuzaka has thrown 65 pitches through four, typically oppressive and atypically economical. He hasn’t thrown a pitch in the seventh inning since August, and he’s got a good chance to go deep. He just finished his third 1-2-3 inning of the day. Adam Lind hit the only hard shot, a liner to Bay in left.
STRIKE ‘EM OUT, THROW ‘EM OUT (2:16, MID 4, 3-0 SOX)
Mark Kotsay got things started with a single to center, his third hit in 28 at-bats. He ran on a 3-2 pitch to Jed Lowrie, but Lowrie flailed at strike three and Thigpen gunned down Kotsay at second to end the inning.
QUICK ONE FOR DICE-K (2:09, END 3, 3-0 SOX)
An unusually efficient inning for Matsusaka, 1-2-3 again. Curtis Thigpen flied to right, Joe Inglett bounced back to Dice-K, and Scutaro struck out for the second time. Stellar work by Dice-K so far. He might get his 18th win today.
HOMER FOR ORTIZ; CYCLE BREWING FOR ELLSBURY? ( 2:01, MID 3, 3-0 SOX)
Ellsbury bashed a one-out double to left-center, a ball that Vernon Wells nearly squeezed, but it popped out of his glove. Ellsbury made a big turn at second but had to stay. He needs a homer and a single for the cycle now. Ellsbury scored when Ortiz reached out for an 81-mph changeup — really, he only flicked his bat — and was strong enough to drive it into the Blue Jays bullpen in left. Ortiz might be the only hitter in the majors who could make that swing on that pitch and hit a home run. And you also can’t do that with a seriously hurt wrist. Very good sign for the Sox. That’s Ortiz’s fourth home run of the road trip.
It’s also his 230th home run with the Red Sox, tying him with Mo Vaughn for sixth in Boston history.
VINTAGE DICE-K (1:52, MID 2, 1-0 SOX)
Matsuzaka threw a mess of pitches (he’s fired 43 through two), got behind just about every hitter, gave up a leadoff double to Vernon Wells, and walked Lyle Overbay. Surprise, surprise, the Blue Jays didn’t score, anyway. Dice-K struck out Scott Rolen and Travis Snider back-to-back to end the inning.
RICHMOND SETTLES (1:36, MID 2, 1-0 SOX)
Mark Kotsay flied to left, Jed Lowrie struck out swinging, and Sean Casey ripped a sinking liner to right that Rios plucked at his shoelaces. The Mayor has been robbed a bunch of times this week.
DICE ROLLS (1:29, END 1, 1-0 SOX)
Sorry for that brutal pun. 1-2-3 for Daisuke Matsuzaka to start. Joe Inglett flied to center, Marco Scutaro struck out looking, and Alex Rios hit the ball hard (doesn’t he always?) but right at Jason Bay in left. Not too much nibbling for Dice either. By his standards, anyway.
TRIPLE FOR ELLSBURY, LEAD FOR SOX (1:21, MID 1, 1-0 SOX)
Jacoby Ellsbury greeted Scott Richmond by smoking a liner into the right-center gap. “That’s a triple,” Tony Mazz said instantly. And he was right; Ellsbury stood up heading into the third standing up for his seventh three-bagger of the year. Dustin Pedroia pushed him across by lining to left for a sacrifice fly. Kevin Youkilis walked, but the Sox couldn’t tack on anymore.