A walk-off hit is a hard act to follow, but Jacoby Ellsbury outdid himself Wednesday night, breaking a 3-3 tie with two outs in the ninth with a walk-off home run.
For all that this game finished on a happy note, it was one of frustration for much of the last three innings. Tim Wakefield had throw six strong innings, allowing just two earned runs, and seemed in line for his 200th win thanks to a two-out, two-run single from David Ortiz in the first, and an RBI groundout from Marco Scutaro in the fourth (the only production of another largely-wasted bases loaded situation).
The defense had had his back for most of the night, too. While Marco Scutaro allowed the first Indians baserunner of the game to reach in the third on an error, Dustin Pedroia made an amazing play on a bunt when Wakefield fell down trying to change directions, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned one of the inevitable passed balls/wild pitches of a Tim Wakefield start into a positive, gunning down Travis Hafner from a good few feet behind home plate after chasing the ball down.
But, despite the evidence from the rest of the season that Tim Wakefield wasn't much one for long outings, Terry Francona decided to stick with the Knuckleballer into the seventh. A decision for which he was burned, as a pair of doubles set the game back to even at 3-3. This came despite Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, and Matt Albers having just 5.2 innings on their collective arms in the past week. What's worse, Francona didn't even have anyone other than Williams and Aceves warming up, suggesting that Wakefield was in it until the game was tied from the very beginning. Baffling? Definitely. Inexcusable? If you ask me.
Thankfully, though, the Red Sox had Jacoby Ellsbury to pick them up. After wasting a leadoff walk in the eight, Darnell McDonald and Marco Scutaro provided quick outs for Joe Smith. The third out wouldn't prove quite so simple. Smith got ahead 0-1 with a slider that caught the outside edge, but his next pitch caught just enough of the plate. Ellsbury leaned out just a bit, swung hard, and launched the ball well over Ezequiel Carrera's head and into the stands in dead-away center for the walk-off shot.