It’s late September in Baltimore and there is meaningful baseball being played at Camden Yards. Granted, it’s not the O’s who have their playoff hopes on the line, but rather their AL East rivals, the Boston Red Sox. I’ve only been here for about 15 minutes, but I already feel that the atmosphere here tonight is going to be electric. It’s sad to say, but this is the closest thing the O’s have had to being a part of postseason baseball in a long while. Even though the O’s aren’t the ones trying to play themselves into the postseason, it is still exciting to be able to witness what is going to transpire here tonight and give me at least a little taste of what it would be like if the O’s were able to someday make the playoffs again.
But we are here today because of what is becoming a historic Red Sox late season collapse. Back on Sept. 3, the Sox had what looked to be a stranglehold on the AL wild card as they led the Tampa Bay Rays by nine games with just under a month to play. Since then, the Red Sox have lost 20 of 27 games and have squandered their once comfortable lead with just two games left to play. The Sox are now tied with the Rays for the final wild card spot and, depending on what happens in the next two games, could possibly face each other in a one game playoff to decide who makes the postseason. The Rays, who have won 15 of 23 games since Sept. 2, face the Yankees at home tonight and tomorrow.
The Red Sox send former Oriole Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50 ERA) to the mound to try and save their postseason hopes. Bedard will face O’s rookie Zach Britton (11-10, 4.44 ERA), who is having and up-and-down first season in the majors. Britton was tagged for six hits and seven earned runs in his last outing against the Red Sox as he last just two-thirds of an inning. He hopes to give a much better effort tonight and close out his rookie season with a bang against a potential playoff contender. But however this one plays out, I feel confident saying it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Like I said before, even though this game doesn’t have any playoff implications for the O’s, it will still be a great experience for the young guys to be able to play in this type of atmosphere. It will give them a little taste of playing meaningful baseball in September.
The rain showed its face for a few brief minutes at the start of the inning, but tapered off as Britton got David Ortiz to ground into a double play to end the inning. Now the O’s get to take their first crack at their former teammate, Bedard.
After a two-out walk to Nick Markakis, Vladimir Guerrero delivered an RBI-double to give the O’s a 1-0 lead. I have a feeling the O’s are going to need all the runs they can get tonight because I don’t see the Sox going down without a fight.
Britton is looking strong so far and has only thrown 21 pitches threw two innings. He has the potential to be a lights-out pitcher, I just hope he’s able to reach his potential unlike some of the other young O’s pitchers who have failed to build on successful seasons.
A leadoff double by Adam Jones in the bottom of the second was negated after he was caught trying to steal third. Chris Davis then struck out on a pitch that appeared to hit him, but actually grazed right under his arm. Jacoby Ellsbury gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the top of the third with a two-run homer with two outs, extending his hitting streak against the O’s to 35 games. Ellsbury now has eight home runs in September and has been the lone bright spot for the Sox in this dreadful month. The out-of-town scoreboard shows that the Rays have a 2-0 lead on the Yankees at the end of the second. I’ll be updating that score throughout this blog for obvious reasons.
A very long bottom of the third didn’t produce any runs for the O’s, who have now made Bedard throw 65 pitches through three innings. There is still plenty of game left to play, so hopefully the O’s can string together a few hits and put some runs on the board. The Rays now lead the Yankees 2-1 after a Russell Martin solo homer.
Catcher Ryan Lavarnway blasted a three-run homer to left to give the Red Sox a 5-1 in the top of the fourth. Britton has now allowed seven hits, two of which were home runs, and is visibly struggling. There have been a few instances where the Red Sox fans in the crowd have tried starting the “Let’s go Red Sox” chants, only to be overtaken by boos from O’s fans. It’s good to see that our fans still have at least a little bit of pride left.
After a Vlad single, Matt Wieters cut the Red Sox lead to two runs after a two-run line drive home run to center. Mark Reynolds then drew a walk and Chris Davis followed with a single, which chased Bedard out of the contest after 3 1/3 innings. Alfredo Aceves came into relieve Bedard and retired the final two batters of the inning without any further damage.
Consecutive walks to Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz was enough to bring Jason Berken into the game to replace Britton with one out in the top of the fifth. After walking Gonzalez to load the bases, Markakis absolutely robbed Lavarnway, diving into foul territory to snag a ball that looked to a sure hit. That’s why we love you, Nick.
The O’s couldn’t take advantage of a leadoff single by Hardy and still trail 5-3 heading into the top of the sixth. The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth of their game and it looked as if they were going to add to their lead as they had bases loaded with no outs. But Martin grounded into a triple play to end the inning and keep the Rays within a run.
Carl Crawford hit a triple with one out and Marco Scutaro followed with a two-run homer off Berken to once again extend the Sox lead to four. Zach Phillips relieved Berken and was able to record the final two outs of the inning. The O’s now have a long way to go if they want to get back into this one.
Jones led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot to cut the Red Sox lead to 7-4. That’s the fifth home run that has been hit in this game. The problem for the O’s in this one has been that every time they cut into the lead, the Sox strike right back and negate what the O’s just did. If our pitching can just get through the last few innings untouched, we may have a fighting chance. The Yankees still lead the Rays 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh and have just brought Rafael Soriano into the game.
We just had a streaker who forgot to take his pants off just run on the field. After getting his 3o seconds of glory, he was wrestled to the ground and taken out by police. Now it’s a party.
Matt Joyce just hit a three-run homer to give the Rays a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh. That’s good news to hear since the Sox look like they are going to get out of here with a win.
I really hope there is a one-game playoff between the Red Sox and the Rays. At this point, you have to give the Rays the edge simply based on how well they’ve been playing as of late. But it would surely be a great game however you look at it.
Lavarnway added to the home run derby at Camden Yards, hitting his second shot of the game to give the Sox an 8-4 lead. Once again, the O’s pitchers aren’t helping the cause any, as they’ve now allowed four homers in the game, all of which have been the source of Boston’s runs.
Well, I can say one thing about the O’s, they have a lot of fight in them. Wieters led off the inning with a single and after a two-out Davis single and a Nolan Reimold triple, the O’s are now only down 8-6. They aren’t going away easily. They have two runs, as of now, to make up in the bottom of the ninth. It’s not very likely, but it’s certainly possible. Good news is the Rays beat the Yankees 5-3, so at least the Sox can’t gain any ground in the wild card race.
Kevin Gregg did his job in the ninth. Now it’s time for the bats to come alive against Jonathan Papelbon. They’ve done it to him before, let’s do it again and make them sweat out tomorrow’s game.
What an effort by the O’s. I give our guys a lot of credit for battling back numerous times after being down as many as four runs. They could’ve just gave up, but they showed a lot of character to hang in there. Jon Lester (Oriole killer) will take the mound for the Sox against Alfredo Simon in the regular season finale. Hopefully the O’s can do what the Yankees did to Lester and knock him around a bit. Let’s end the season on a high note and help keep the Red Sox OUT of the playoffs.
Submitted by Steve Giles