The Red Sox took advantage of a series of defensive gaffes from the Orioles to overcome a 5-0 deficit and earn their fourth win in five games.
With Jake Peavy riding a hot streak into Sunday night's game, the hope was that the Sox would only need to put together a few runs to earn the victory. Those hopes would be dashed in a hurry. Peavy struggled with his command, getting ahead of batters and then giving them meatballs in favorable counts. Nelson Cruz hit the third pitch of the game out of the park, and Peavy let the next three batters reach base to put the Sox in an early 3-0 hole.
Against the struggling Ubaldo Jimenez, that lead didn't exactly seem insurmountable. When the fourth was underway and the Red Sox were still waiting on their first hit, however? That was when it started seeming unlikely. And while Jonny Gomes did pick up their first hit with two outs, the upswing was quickly met by a two-out Baltimore rally in the fifth, leading to a fourth run for the Orioles. By the time Peavy's night came to an end in the sixth, the Sox trailed 5-0.
Finally, though, the bad Ubaldo showed up. A line drive single from David Ortiz led into a base on balls for Mike Napoli, giving Gomes a chance with two on and one out. The man who had given the Red Sox their first hit of the day did not disappoint in the least. jumping on a hanging slider and lifting it into the Monster seats. The near-blowout became a two-run game in the blink of an eye, giving the Red Sox and Fenway Park alike some much-needed life.
From there, the Orioles took over. Just...not in the way they might have hoped. Brock Holt did his own work in the seventh with a ground ball single, but with Grady Sizemore tapping one back to reliever Zach Britton on the mound, it was the Orioles, not the Red Sox who saved the day. Trying to turn two, Ryan Flaherty couldn't get the ball cleanly out of his glove, and with the league's convoluted transfer rules still in place, that meant Holt and Sizemore alike were safe. Britton could not recover from the mistake, surrendering hard-hit singles to Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz before leaving a 5-4 game and a bases loaded situation for Evan Meek.
And, to Meek's credit, he did what he was supposed to do. Mike Napoli hit a week ground ball to Jonathan Schoop at third, and Schoop fired the ball towards the ground in front of home plate. Matt Wieters couldn't save the throw, and Pedroia came in to score. A Daniel Nava strikeout would end the rally, but the damage had been done. It was a tie game headed to the eighth.
Nothing much would happen in the eighth, other than a curious one-pitch outing for Junichi Tazawa, replacing Chris Capuano after another effective outing and getting Nelson Cruz to pop up before turning the ball over to Andrew Miller. But with the Patriots' Day game just hours away, the Red Sox were hardly content to let the game go to extras. Dustin Pedroia should have ended it in the second at bat of the inning, but a fan reached over the ledge of the Monster. The umps called it a double, and the replay was deemed inconclusive (my take: it would have been gone anyway, but they weren't wrong to let the call stand).
That just delayed the inevitable, however. Pedroia advanced to third on a wild pitch, with David Ortiz being given a free pass behind him, and Mike Napoli taking a scary pitch to the knee to load the bases (he would remain in the game). With little needed to earn the win, the Red Sox turned to Mike Carp to pinch hit for Jonny Gomes against the right-handed pitcher. The result: a line drive to left field, but a line drive that David Lough was able to come in on to record the out. Once again, though, defense would cost the Orioles. This time, Lough's throw home was horribly errant, Jonathan Schoop was not properly placed to save it, and Dustin Pedroia was able to reverse course and head back towards home, sliding in very safe and making the game very much over.
The last game of the series is just 12 hours away, but for once the Red Sox don't really seem like they need a break. Winners of four of their last five games, these Sox might finally be waking up.