ANGELS WIN, FORCE GAME 4 (12:47, END 12, 5-4 ANGELS)
Ortiz walked to begin the 12th inning, but he never advanced past first. Youkilis flied to deep center, Bay struck out looking, and Cora grounded to third. Weaver gets the win, Lopez the loss.
Game 4 starts in less than 20 hours, today at 8:37 p.m. Jon Lester vs. John Lackey.
MATTER OF THE HEART (12:38, MID 12, 5-4 ANGELS)
Despite a single by Anderson that sent Aybar to third, Lopez got out of the inning with no more damage. If the Sox are to win or extend this game, it will be done by the heart of the order. Ortiz — who, you’ll recall, was not pinch run for in the 10th — will lead off, followed by Youkilis and Bay.
ANGELS TAKE LEAD (12:33, TOP 12, 5-4 ANGELS)
The hit that may win this game for the Angels came on an 0-2 pitch to the nine hitter. Erick Aybar flared a one-out single to center off of Lopez, enough to score Napoli to second with the go-ahead run.
Napoli, already with two home runs under his belt, ripped a single to left to lead off the inning. Kendrick pushed a sacrifice bunt to the left side, moving Napoli to second.
SOX STRAND ANOTHER (12:25, END 11, 4-4)
Pedroia’s rough series got rougher thanks to a bit of bad luck. With Crisp on second, he smoked a one-hopper to the left side, but right at Figgins at third. Figgins threw across the diamond for the out, making Pedroia, a leading MVP candidate, 0 for 13 in the series.
Kotsay opened the inning by striking out. Crisp flared a single to shallow center. Ellsbury struck out, looking at two consecutive borderline strikes. After both, he pleaded his case. With two outs, Weaver tried hard to keep Crisp from stealing. He therw over twice. He stepped off. He pitched out. Crisp still swiped second on the next pitch. He stayed there.
David Ross is catching now, and Javier Lopez is pitching.
KOTSAY PINCH HITS (12:15, BOT 11, 4-4)
To lead off, Kotsay is pinch-hitting for Kevin Cash.
PAPELBON TURNS IT ON (12:13, MID 11, 4-4)
A recurring problem for the Angels transpired again: Teixeira and Guerrero got on base (walk and a single), and then they stayed there. With one out, Hunter popped to right, and Matthews Jr. struck out on a 96-mph fastball. Papelbon flexed and screamed Matthews flailed. That makes 19 2/3 career scoreless innings in the postseason, one out behind all-time leader Joe Niekro.
The Angels have stranded 14 men. Papelbon struck out three in two innings.
Jered Weaver is in for the Angels, making his first ever major league relief appearance. Byrd, if you’re wondering, pitched four seasons as a middle reliever.
BYRD WARMING (12:05, TOP 11, 4-4)
Papelbon is still going strong — he struck out Anderson on a 97-mph fastball and then walked Teixeira on a 3-2 pitch. But Paul Byrd, a starter all season, is getting loose in the bullpen.
LOWRIE LEAVES THEM LOADED (11:57, END 10, 4-4)
On to the 11th. The Red Sox nearly won in the 10th. Lowrie came to the plate with the bases loaded and lined a shot to right field, right at Gary Matthews Jr.
The Red Sox got the rally going after Pedroia struck out on a nasty, down-and-in changeup. Ortiz walked on a 3-2 pitch. Youkilis submitted a tremendous at-bat. He went to 0-2 and fouled off a couple pitches before lacing a single to center.
Francona declined to pinch run for Ortiz even after he reached second, perhaps because his hands were tied — only David Ross, Sean Casey, Mark Kotsay, and Alex Cora remained on the bench. The first two are not pinch-running candidates. Francona probably has to save Cora in case Lowell has to come out. He probably wants Kotsay’s bat available for a righty. And he also probably was thinking about Ortiz’s spot coming up again in the 12th or so.
The decision ended up working in a way — it wouldn’t have mattered who was on second. Bay struck out on an 82-mph slider. Lowell checked his swing on an 83-mph slider, and first base umpire Ed Rapuano rang him up for a close call on strike two. On the 3-2 pitch, Lowell fouled one back, then took a fastball that looked to be a strike for ball four. Cora pinch ran for Lowell, explaining Francona’s rationale for not sending him in for Ortiz.
After Lowrie’s line out, Cora moved to short and Lowrie moved to third. Papelbon is still pitching.
PAPELBON DOMINANT, K-ROD ENTERS (11:35, MID 10, 4-4)
Papelbon used 11 pitches to shut down the Angels in a vintage performance. Kendrick tried to test Lowell with a bunt, but he pushed it too high and too hard. The ball one-hopped to Lowell, who barely had to move before he fired to Youkilis. Papelbon made a nice play himself on a bouncer back to the mound by Aybar. He struck out Figgins on 2-2, 98-mph outside fastball on the black, a filthy pitch.
The Red Sox star closer did his job. Can Francisco Rodrgieuz, the 60-save Game 2 goat, do his? Pedroia, Ortiz, and Youkilis are due up.
SHIELDS FORCES EXTRAS (11:25, END 9, 4-4)
Angels releivers have been tremendous, retiring 12 of the 14 batters they’ve faced; Shields and Arrendondo have retired 12 of 13. Shields began the ninth by blowing away Drew. He swung at one fastball so late it bordered on comical, and Shields struck out Drew on a 94-mph fastball. Crisp flied to center, and Ellsbury flied to right.
Papelbon has replaced Masterson, and owner John Henry has moved into the seats by the Red Sox dugout. Getting ready for a celebration, perhaps. Drew is out, and Kevin Cash is catching.
MASTERSON CRUISES (11:17, MID 9, 4-4)
Masterson went 1-2-3, dominating for the most part. Bay erased a single down the left field line by Hunter to start the inning. The ball bounced off the jutting wall and into shallow left. Bay hustled to it and fired a one-hop strike to Pedroia at second to nail Hunter by a good three or four steps. Kendry Morales, pinch-hitting for defensive replacement Reggie Willits, grounded to first. Masterson went 3-1 to Napoli, who had already hit two homers. Masterson fired a 92-mph. Napoli shattered his bat in hitting a grounder to Pedroia up the middle. Excellent performance by Masterson, who has retired all four hitters he faced (with help from Bay).
When the inning ended, Jonathan Papelbon was warming up. If the Sox can’t walk-off in the ninth, expect Papelbon in the 10th.
Gary Matthews Jr. entered the game in right field. J.D. Drew has come out to the on-deck circle to bat against Shields. Can he be the hero twice in two-games?
THAT WAS QUICK (11:09, END 8, 4-4)
Shields shut down the Sox efficiently. Bay lofted a high fly to left that looked like it had a chance to leave, but the ball died and fell into Anderson’s glove by the left-field line. Lowell grounded to second then hobbled to first — again, he looks like he’s in a lot of pain and not mobile at all. Lowrie, in a total mismatch batting lefty against Shields, struck out on three pitches, swinging over a curveball.
Masterson still in.
MASTERSON GETS HIS MAN (11:03, MID 8, 4-4)
Great job in a big spot for Masterrson. He started Guerrero 1-2. Guerrero worked the count to 3-2, taking the 1-2 pitch high, hard, and inside. On the most important pitch of his young career, Masterson unleashed a 96-mph fastball. Guerrero swung through it, giving the Red Sox a chance to take the lead with Bay, Lowell, and Lowrie due up.
OKAJIMA OUT, MASTERSON IN (10:58, TOP 8, 4-4)
Francona just trudged to the mound to bring Masterson in from the bullpen to face Guerrero, who destroyed a single off Masterson in Game 1.
Youkilis helped Okajima get two outs with a slick play on a bouncer behind first, grabbing a ball that handcuffed him with a high hop at his waist and flipping to Okajima. Lowell could not provide the same help at third when Teixeira nailed a ball to the left side. Lowell took a slow step to his left and lunged, but the ball deflected off his glove. He is clearly not himself; on that play, he looked really slow moving side-to-side.
SHIELDS GETS YOUKILIS (10:47, END 7, 4-4)
Shields struck out Youkilis on four pitches, getting him to look at two fastballs over the plate and then flail at strike three, stranding Ortiz at first. Okajima is still in for the Red Sox, and Masterson is warming up in the bullpen.
A LOST OPPORTUNITY AND A NEW PITCHER (10:42, BOT 7, 4-4)
Ellsbury tried stealing second to get himself in scoring position for Ortiz, and it seemed like it had worked — he got a decent jump and ran on a curve from Oliver. But he slid past the base, allowing Aybar to tag him out. Ortiz walked on a full count, and Scioscia summoned Shields. The Angels have no left-handed pitchers left.
OLIVER IN FOR ARREDONDO (10:37, BOT 7, 4-4)
After Arredondo got Pedroia (now 0 for 11 this series) to pop to center, Mike Scioscia called on Oliver, the only left-handed in his bullpen, to pitch to Ortiz. As the game goes forward, the Red Sox, chocked with lefties on the bench, will be able to work left-right matchups at their will. The game could end up being decided by that.
The attendance tonight is 39,067, the largest crowd at Fenway post-World War II.
SHIELDS, OLIVER UP (10:33, BOT 7, 4-4)
After a leadoff walk by Jacoby Ellsbury, Scot Shields and Darren Oliver are throwing in the Angels bullpen.
OKAJIMA GETS IT DONE (10:27, MID 7, 4-4)
Aybar chopped weakly to Lowell at third, and he stepped on the bag to end the inning. The Angels have stranded 11 runners this game, 31 in the series.
OKAJIMA IN (10:24, TOP 7, 4-4)
Delcarmen seemed to be cruising through his second inning after he got a groundout from Rivera. Delcarmen fired a first-pitch fastball inside to Napoli, who had hit two home runs. The pitch grazed him, and, perhaps thinking the buzz was intentional, Napoli stared toward the mound before he walked to first.
Kendrick followed with a single to right, and with the switch-hitting Aybar coming up, Francona summoned Okajima. Two on, two outs.
OKAJIMA WARMING UP (10:18, TOP 7, 4-4)
With Juan Rivera coming to the plate with one out — a strike out of Hunter by Delcarmen — Hideki Okajima is getting loose.
ARREDONDO CRUISES (10:15, END 6, 4-4)
If and when the Angels lose this series, it will be despite the great work of Jose Arredondo. He struck out the first three batters he faced, getting Lowrie swinging and Varitek looking to start the sixth. Crisp grounded to second to end the inning.
DELCARMEN IMPRESSIVE (10:07, MID 6, 4-4)
Anderson, Teixeira, and Guerrero — hitters with a combined 13 hits this series — went down in order, all groundballs to the right side. Youkilis made a great, sliding play on Anderson’s ball. Delcarmen more than aced his first test of these playoffs.
One more note on Beckett: Tonight’s start was the shortest in his postseason career, and he also allowed his most hits in any postseason game.
DELCARMEN IN (10:01, END 5, 4-4)
Beckett did not bolster his reputation as a historically great postseason pitcher tonight. He threw 106 pitches, only 59 strikes, and surrendered 13 base runners.
Delcarmen is making his first appearance of this postseason. “Before this is all said and done, he will have pitched some pretty big innings,” Terry Francona said before the game. Here’s one now.
ARREDONDO BEATS LOWELL (9:57, END 5, 4-4)
On a 3-2 pitch, Arrendondo fired a 95-mph fastball on the black that froze Lowell. Home plate umpire Kerwin Danely rang him up. “Six inches outside,” Dan Shaugnessy said. “You got to figure, a veteran like Lowell takes it, it’s not a strike.”
Saunders, really, should still be in the game working on a two-hitter. The Angels should have caught both of Ellsbury’s hits, and if Anderson came up with that last ball, Youkilis never would have come the plate. Saunders nibbled a bit, but he deserved much better.
YOUKILIS COMES THROUGH, ARREDONDO IN (9:51, BOT 5, 4-4)
The Red Sox surged ahead in the series by consistently capitalizing on their scoring chances and nailing clutch hits with two outs. Youkilis became the latest to do so and tied the game. Ellsbury led off with a double to left, a ball that went off the top of Anderson’s glove and could have been an error.
Saunders seemed to be unraveling when he went 3-0 on Pedroia and threw a borderline strike. Pedroia thought he had walked; two pitches later, he popped foul to catcher Napoli. Ortiz struck out, and Youkilis followed. He crushed a line-drive double over Hunter’s head and off the centerfield wall. The Red Sox have scored 12 of their 15 runs this series with two outs.
Bay missed an RBI by inches by lining a ball down the left field line jsut foul. On a 3-2 count, he fouled off one pitch and then walked. That was enough for Saunders, who threw 96 pitches. Jose Arredondo just entered to face Lowell with two men on and two outs.
BECKETT FINISHES FIVE (9:36, MID 5, 4-3)
Having thrown 105 pitches, Beckett’s night might be over. If so, he at least ended it on a strong note, striking out nemesis Figgins on a 93-mph fastball to end the fifth inning.
That was the kind of challenging, fierce pitching Beckett was missing for the rest of the night. The reigning king of the fall, Beckett looked more like the bad version of Daisuke Matsuzaka. He allowed 13 baserunners — four walks, nine hits — and was fortunate not to have allowed more runs.
Here’s a great fact from Tony Mazz: In their last eight innings, Red Sox starters have thrown 185 pitches, roughly 23 pitches per inning. Matsuzaka threw 80 in his last three innings two nights ago.
NAPOLI GOES DEEP AGAIN (9:27, TOP 5, 4-3 ANGELS)
On Beckett’s 97th pitch of the night, Napoli rocked a 92-mph cutter over the Green Monster, not quite as majestic as his first and little closer to center field. The Angels took the lead with one out. And then Howie Kendrick grounded the first pitch he saw up the middle. Man on first, one out.
DOWN IN ORDER (9:21, END 4, 3-3)
Another nothing inning for the Sox. Lowrie led off the inning with a single — you could have made a lot of money betting Lowrie would have two more hits than Pedroia at this point in the series. Lowrie, though, was erased a 5-4-3 double play initiated by Varitek’s grounder to Figgins. Crisp ended the inning with another grounder.
BECKETT ESCAPES (9:16, MID 4, 3-3)
For the second time tonight, the Angels left the bases loaded, and this time came away with nothing. The Angels have four walks and seven hits and only three runs to show for it. They have stranded eight men tonight, 28 for the series. The culprit this time was Hunter, who grounded to second. Pedroia flipped to Lowrie to kill the threat.
Manny Delcarmen was warming up when the inning ended. Beckett climbed over 90 pitches. He’s not himself, whether it has to do with his oblique injury or not.
FIGGINS STAYS HOT, BASES LOADED, DELCARMEN WARMING (9:11, TOP 4, 3-3)
Figgins laced a one-out single to right, his third hit of the night. Anderson followed with a deep drive to center, sending Crisp to the warning track. He caught the ball with his back nearly hitting the wall. Beckett got Teixeira to ground weakly to the right side. Youkilis ranged far to his right to field the ball, then flipped to Beckett at an odd angle. The toss was fine, but Beckett missed the bag with his right foot, and Teixeira reached with an RBI single. Beckett then walked Guerrero on four pitches, bringing John Ferrell to the mound and Hunter to the plate. Beckett has thrown 89 pitches total.
SOX GO QUIETLY (8:58, END 3, 3-3)
The Red Sox did not answer Napoli’s home run. Youkilis walked with one out, but Ortiz, Bay, and Lowell all flied out.
By the way: Ellsbury’s three-RBI single was the first in postseason history.
TIED UP (8:50, MID 3, 3-3)
Mike Napoli slammed a 3-2 pitch over the Green Monster, through the light tower, for a two-run, game-tying homer. It was Napoli’s first career postseason home run and the Angels’ first postseason homer in 68 innings.
Beckett endured another heavy load, needing 20 pitches to finish the inning, which he ended by striking out Kendrick. He’s up to 71 now.
Guerrero doubled down the right field line to start the inning.
A GIFT FROM THE ANGELS (8:35, END 2, 3-1 SOX)
How many three-run singles have you seen? The way the Angels are playing right now, anything is possible. Ellsbury came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and popped up to shallow center. Howie Kendrick backpedaled and Torii Hunter jogged slowly in. Hunter, it seemed, never called for the ball, but Kendrick back off and let the ball fall harmlessly to the ground. It was a 3-2 pitch, so every runner, spriting with the pitch, scored.
Jason Bay began the inning with a grounder to third. Lowell struck out, taking an ugly swing at a 94-mph fastball. He seems clearly affected by his hip injury.
Jed Lowrie walked, and Jason Varitek continued the Red Sox’ two-out success with a sharp single to left. Coco Crisp came to the plate, the Red Sox’ first opportunity to score resting on him. Saunders walked him on four pitches, bringing Ellsbury to the plate. Saunders worked the outside, getting two called strikes and thrwoing two balls. Ellsbury lashed a foul ball down the thrid-base line. Saunders threw an outside curve that just missed. On 3-2, with the runners sprinting with the pitch, Ellsbury popped up, and Saunders thought he got his man. But no. Saunders put his hands on his and stared toward centerfield; Lowrie bounced into the dugout mouthing, “Yeah, baby.”
BECKETT LABORING (8:15, MID 2, 1-0 ANGELS)
Beckett allowed no runs in the second, but not without yielding a couple base runners and ratcheting his pitch count up to 51 after only two innings. It seemed Beckett had settled when he got easy grounders from Howie Kendrick (now 0 for 10) and Erick Aybar.
Then he went 3-0 to Figgins and came back to 3-2 only to give up a hars single to center. Anderson followed with a walk. Beckett got Teixeira to ground to Mike Lowell at third. The Red Sox bullpen, it seems, will have a stiff test in front of it.
SAUNDERS SHARP (7:59, END 1, 1-0 ANGELS)
Joe Saunders, making his first career playoff appearance, retired the Red Sox with only a small blip. He hit Pedroia on the lower, which gave the Sox a scare. He yelled in pain and stayed down for a moment. He limped a little when he first got up, but he stayed in the game and appears to be OK.
Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to first, David Ortiz flied to center, and Youkils grounded to short. Saunders needed only nine pitches.
BECKETT OUT OF IT (7:53, MID 1, 1-0 ANGELS)
It was not a promising start for Beckett, but it could have been much worse. The Angels left the bases loaded when Mike Napoli grounded out. Beckett walked two and threw 30 pitches, only 14 strikes.
RUDE GREETING (7:49, TOP 1, 1-0 ANGELS)
Josh Beckett’s playoffs have gotten off to a rocky start. Chone Figgins lashed the first pitch he threw down the right-field line, over Kevin Youkilis’s head at first. The ball bounced off the fence and seemingly off of a fan in the crowd, causing umpire Bill Miller to call a ground-rule double.
Figgins kept running. Replays showed the ball may have only hit the top of the fence, then bounced over the jutting corner of seats and into the right-field corner. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia came out to talk with Miller.
Figgins setteld for a double, the Angels’ second extra-base hit of the series. Figgins is the only Angel with an extra-base hit.
Beckett responded by striking out Garrett Anderson looking on a 75-mph curveball, and then by striking out Mark Teixeira swinging on a 91-mph cutter after missing out on several close strike calls. Beckett walked Guerrero to bring Torii Hunter to the plate.
Hunter grounded to the right side, past the dive of Youkilis, but Pedroia slid on the outfield grass and stopped the ball. Beckett hustled to cover, but Pedroia used caution and held the ball, ensuring Guerrero would stop at third.
With the bases loaded, up came Juan Rivera. Beckett went to a 3-0 count. Rivera swung at a fastball and fouled it back. Then he looked at a fastball for an RBI walk.
There have been several visits between Beckett and catcher Jason Varitek. Beckett, working more deliberately than usual, has thrown 27 pitches already in his first inning since Sept. 22.
RICE AND ICE (7:25, PRE 1, 0-0)
Welcome to a chilly night at Fenway Park. It really feels like fall out there. A lot of fans are walking around in winter jackets, gloves, and winter caps. The cold breeze is blowing out to left.
The entire Red Sox clubhouse and field staff were introduced before the game. The two biggest heros from Anaheim — Jon Lester and J.D. Drew — received the loudest ovations. Jason Bay, who is probably on pace to win ALDS MVP, was close.
Jim Rice threw out the first pitch. We are moments away from Josh Beckett throwing the first pitch to Choce Figgins. Playoff baseball is back at Fenway.