It's been five minutes since the game ended, and it's still hard to really grasp what just happened.
It was the ninth inning. The game was tied, 3-3. Andrew Bailey had just worked around a bad-luck leadoff blooper from Jurickson Profar to get the Sox to the bottom of the inning needing just one run for a walkoff. Ron Washington brought in Michael Kirkman, a lefty, to face a surprisingly hot Jonny Gomes, whose only job is to hit lefties. He'd done that through the first eight innings, collecting three hits, and sure enough, the first offering didn't get quite inside enough, and Gomes launched a double to the gap in left-center for a double.
Gomes struck a strong man pose at second while Dustin Pedroia walked to the plate. At this point, there were no good options for Ron Washington and the Rangers. A man at second, Pedroia at bat, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli behind him. The one piece of info there that really stands out in a 3-3 game in the ninth is David Ortiz up next.
So, what does Ron Washington do? He calls for the intentional walk.
To get to Ortiz.
What did he think was going to happen?
David Ortiz stepped up to the plate, chip firmly on shoulder, and took the first pitch he saw--a low, inside fastball--and cleaned it out. The only question was whether or not Nelson Cruz would have an opportunity to make some sort of miracle play, and it took all of about a second for it to become clear that wasn't going to happen. The ball landed well into the bullpens, and the Red Sox won, 6-3.
The first eight innings, not so much. It was one of those games of wasted chances that plagued the Red Sox so through that early May slump. After three rough innings for Jon Lester put them down 3-0, the Sox would capitalize on their fourth and fifth baserunners of the night in the bottom of the third. A walk from Jose Iglesias (the first of three on the night) and single from Jacoby Ellsbury (his second hit of four) set up Dustin Pedroia for a two-RBI double off the wall in dead center, bringing the Sox within one run.
And then came the stranded runners. Two in the fourth. Jacoby Ellsbury reaching third with no outs, but being thrown out on a fielder's choice before a double play ended the inning. The sixth saw Nava and Iglesias left on second and third as Pedro Ciriaco chased an awful pitch.
The seventh started well, as Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonny Gomes gave the Sox runners at first and third with three outs to work with, but seemed ready to provide further frustration when Dustin Pedroia struck out and, after a walk to David Ortiz, Mike Napoli fell behind 0-2. And when the fourth pitch to Napoli was cued out to first in what looked like a tailor-made double play, Sox fans were on the verge of a meltdown. But all did not go according to plan for Texas. Berkman had to pop backwards as the ball exploded on him, then bounced the throw to second. Elvis Andrus' return throw to Jason Frasor wasn't fast enough, and Mike Napoli waved himself safe as Ellsbury scored the equalizing run.
You know the rest of the story, minus some Koji high fives.Yes, Ortiz had struggled at the plate to that point. Yes, it was a lefty-lefty matchup. Yes, it set up the double play.
But it was David Ortiz. In the ninth inning. Of a tie game. He would've gotten a chance no matter what, but it's hard to ever justify giving him added motivation.
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