Baseball can be a funny game. On Thursday night, it was the Red Sox establishing a big lead early on, the Yankees rallying in the seventh, and then the Red Sox putting together some late heroics to take home the win. Friday night, they followed almost the exact same script, only the parts got all jumbled.
For acts one and two, the roles switched. This time it was the Yankees going up big early on, thanks largely to a control-free Felix Doubront who looks to be hitting that same wall he hit in 2012, only about a month later this time. That fact hopefully means that he, as a young pitcher, is building the stamina to go a full year in the near future, but for tonight all it meant was a lot of runs for New York. Alfonso Soriano would take advantage of a meatball offered to him in the first, launching a two-run shot to left, and an Edwardo Nunez triple was the main catalyst in another two-run frame in the second.
While Doubront battled back in the third, he would ultimately walk Mark Reynolds and Chris Stewart in the third before surrendering a triple to Brett Gardner that just eluded a diving Shane Victorino. Rubby De La Rosa came in to replace the struggling lefty, with his job being to see the Red Sox through to the late innings, be it through shut-down relief pitching, or three-run catastrophe innings. Rubby ended up going half-and-half for his part, struggling with two outs in the fifth, surrendering two runs in the span of five pitches.
The Red Sox had not been completely quiet, pushing across three runs with Will Middlebrooks' third homer in three nights the most noteworthy contribution. Still, with the Yankees up 8-3, the Red Sox were looking pretty out of it, right up until the seventh came, bringing Phil Hughes with it.
From 8-3 down, the Red Sox roared back against New York's struggling pitcher. David Ross and Shane Victorino would get the inning started, hitting ground ball singles around a fly ball out from Will Middlebrooks. Then, in one of the night's pivotal at bats, Mike Carp fell behind 0-2, fouled off pitch three, took three straight balls, and after fouling off another pair, drew a walk on the ninth pitch of the at bat to load the bases.
The next at bat would not be quite as impressive, but ultimately ended up slightly more productive, as Dustin Pedroia hit a soft roller towards third. Alex Rodriguez charged, but his throw to first was low, and Mark Reynolds could not dig it out, reloading the bases for David Ortiz with one out. Finally, Hughes was lifted from he game for Boone Logan--a move which paid immediate dividends, as Ortiz struck out looking on a nasty slider. And, really, Logan might have gotten the Yankees out of it had it not been for Yankee Stadium's shortest of porches. Down to his last strike, Mike Napoli got underneath a fastball from Logan, and hit a lazy fly ball to right. Ichiro sized it up, drifted back, to the wall, leaped...and had the ball bounce right behind his glove, off the top of the wall, and into the stands. In any other park, an out. In New Yankee Stadium, a game-tying grand slam.
Now, based on Thursday's script, this would be the part where the Yankees rallied to ultimately leave with the win. This, however, is where the role-swapping stopped. The Red Sox had clawed their way back up, and as has been their tendency this year, were not going to let their hard work go to waste. And it only took them three batters into the eighth to get it done. With Will MIddlebrooks at first by way of a single, one out, and Preston Claiborne on the mound, Shane Victorino continued his incredible run of righty-on-righty hitting by slamming a two-run shot into the left-field bleachers, putting the Red Sox up 10-8.
The Sox would tack on a pair of insurance runs against Joba Chamberlain just for good measure, but with most of their reliable relief pitching unavailable or used up earlier in the game (Brandon Workman in particular pitched a very impressive seventh inning), John Farrell decided to turn to Koji Uehara to hold the four-run lead. It sounds a little silly, but consider where the Sox would have been if Thornton or Britton had given up a few baserunners, which is hardly unlikely. Koji would have been in anyways, with the game suddenly in doubt.
Instead of dealing with all that, the Sox got their automatic 1-2-3 inning from the man who has now retired 27 straight batters. If only they counted perfect games for relievers.
Read more Red Sox:
- Jon Lester's velocity is back, and so is he
- The myth of the 'must-win' game
- Koji Uehara approaching Red Sox history
- The Red Sox don't have a Junichi Tazawa problem
- Should the Red Sox convert prospect Rubby De La Rosa to relief permanently?