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HERNANDEZ SAVES SOX AFTER EMBARRASSING COLLAPSE TO ADVANCE TO ALCS

October 11-GAME 4

Rodriguez pitches for Boston against McHugh. Renfroe robs Arozarena of a triple to start the evening with a catch in right field. Martinez is robbed in center by Kiermaier in much the same way in the bottom of the second. Rodriguez strikes out Austin Meadows, the first man of the third after an interminable and nearly intolerable 17-pitch at-bat! That leaves one wondering what the postseason record is for longest plate appearance and whether or not that was it! It’s at least the sixth-longest at-bat ever, according to mlb.com. E-Rod gets a standing ovation when he goes back to the dugout, and it’s well-deserved after Red Sox Nation held its collective breath for an eternity. The Sox put two on with one out in the bottom of the frame. After a fly out, Devers gets the scoring going by hitting a three-run homer to dead center. It’s 3-0 Boston as the Sox get the first runs, a crucial advantage, especially when the Rays are now playing with their backs against the wall. After a single by Bogaerts, Verdugo drives him in with a two-out double off the Monster to make it 4-0. He only has to wait for a moment before Martinez sends him home with a single off the Monster to open it up at 5-0 and make the fans in the park go wild. Kevin Cash comes in for a pitching change, and on the first pitch, Renfroe doubles to the gap to put two men in scoring position and compound Tampa’s woes. Now the Sox have batted around. A strikeout ends a long inning for the Rays, but one not nearly long enough for Boston fans.

Luplow leads off the top of the fifth with a double to left before moving to third on a sacrifice fly, just barely beating out the throw. He scores right after on a groundout to put the Rays on the board at 5-1. Kiermaier leads off the top of the sixth with a double to left that’s just barely out of Verdugo’s reach. Rodriguez is pulled after that batter to a standing ovation from a roaring, very appreciative Boston crowd. Kiermaier moves to third on a sacrifice fly before Franco takes Houck deep to center and puts the Rays back in it at 5-3. Looking to get their insurance back, the Red Sox put runners at the corners with one out in the bottom of the seventh. The cheers from the crowd turn to boos when Fleming is pulled by the Rays in favor of Fairbanks, who induces a double play immediately to get out of the inning. Another leadoff double starts the eighth for the Rays, with Zunino immediately scoring on a double to the gap by Kiermaier to make it 5-4. Arozarena singles him home as the Tampa Bay Rays come all the way back from the depths of despair to tie it at 5-5! Arozarena takes second on the throw home. Naturally, the Sox have a pitching change, after which the Sox miraculously escape the inning tied.

Verdugo starts the bottom of the eighth at second after a routine ground ball ends up in the dugout and he is awarded the extra base on the throwing error. What a time for an error! Verdugo is eventually thrown out at third on a double play to end the inning as the Sox waste a huge opportunity. They put a runner at second with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Shaw’s infield single puts runners at the corners, and Santana pinch-runs for Vázquez at third. Shaw moves to second on defensive indifference before Hernández’s sac fly brings in Vázquez to end the series! Red Sox pull out a 6-5 win! Boston will face either Houston or Chicago in the ALCS.