We have confirmed reports: Ryan Lavarnway, despite making nary an appearance in September, is alive.
He's also, as it turns out, kicking.
In a must-win scenario, with all the pressure on, Ryan Lavarnway made his first start behind the plate and thrived.
With their options being between a slumping and beat-up Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the walking corpse of Jason Varitek, and with lefty Zach Britton on the mound in opposition, the Red Sox turned at long last to their top hitting prospect in Ryan Lavarnway. And boy, did he ever leave his stamp on this game.
First, though, there was Jacoby Ellsbury. Facing a 1-0 deficit in the third, the Red Sox' MVP candidate added to his resume with a go-ahead homer in the biggest game of the year, bringing Marco Scutaro home as well as he went deep to right.
Then, in the fourth, it was time for Lavarnway. After surviving a questionable checked swing on a 2-2 pitch, Lavarnway got a high fastball and knocked it out to left for his first career homer--a three-run shot that put the Sox up 5-1.
The Orioles would get back in the game and chase Bedard from it as Matt Wieters launched a two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth. The Sox would turn to Alfredo Aceves, who would provide another impressive, long outing from the pen. Recording 11 outs on under 40 pitches, Aceves got the Sox through the end of the seventh.
That was when Lavarnway struck again, this time with the bases empty. A flat, high changeup from Zach Phillips was no challenge for the night's catcher, who left the park for the second time that night.
It was a run that shouldn't have been needed, but alas, the back-end of the pen was once again a mess. Daniel Bard gave up a pair of runs to let the Orioles come back within two, and Jonathan Papelbon let the tying run get to second base before he finally picked up the last out of the game.
So for now the Red Sox live on, and perhaps do so with a bit of life from Ryan Lavarnway. They'll need that tomorrow, as they face yet another must-win game, likely with a third coming right behind it.