Last night was one of those Red Sox games that leaves you breathless — a real pitcher’s duel that ends in dramatic fashion. My hero of Friday night’s loss, Salty the Enforcer, was again the hero with a pinch hit, walk-off dinger in the ninth to give the Sox a 3-2 win over those dreaded Rays.
The Rays’ pitcher, David Price, managed to keep the Red Sox bats quite through the first five innings. In the bottom of the sixth, they finally broke the scoreless tie scoring one run to take a slim lead late in the game.
Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a walk and David Ortiz followed with a single, moving Pedroia to second. Adrian Gonzalez smacked a single to BJ Upton in center field who threw a BB to home cutting down Pedy trying to score from second. Will Middlebrooks then shot one up the middle that deflected off the second baseman and allowed Ortiz to score the first run of the game.
On the pitching side for the Sox, Josh Beckett pitched another beauty. He went seven innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs while striking out five. He pitched six innings of one-hit, shutout ball and seemed to be rolling right along. But in the top of the seventh, the Rays took advantage of a tiring Beckett and managed to plate two runs on a combination three singles and heads up base running. Rays up 2-1.
With one chance left for some do or die heroics, the Red Sox had a tough road ahead of them in the bottom of the ninth. The Rays sent in their closer Fernando Rodney who was going for his 16th save in 16 attempts. (Does it annoy anyone else that he wears he hat crooked, because in incenses me! Seriously…shouldn’t there be rule against that?)
Daniel Nava lead off the ninth with an eight-pitch walk. Pinch hitter Nick Punto came in and laid down a successful sacrifice moving Nava up to second. Jarrod Saltalamacchia came in to pinch hit for Marlon Byrd, who had been 0 for 3 with two strike outs, and hit the second pitch he saw from Rodney over the center field fence for his first career walk-off homerun. This happened to also be the first walk-off win for the Red Sox this season.
Needless to say Fenway Park went completely mental and Salty was mobbed at home plate as is the custom with the Red Sox for walk-off wins. He emerged from the pile missing his shirt which was ripped from his body by an exuberant Big Papi. Salty told reporters after the game:
“Well, obviously tonight was awesome. I met the shredder for the first time,” Saltalamacchia said.
The shredder is what the Red Sox call the mob of players who jump all over the walk-off hero.
“Well, the shredder got me good,” Saltalamacchia said. “It got my shirt and my necklace. He got it all tonight. That’s a great feeling.”
Click here for the heart-stopping box score, courtesy of the Red Sox. The Sox and Rays will finish up the series today at 1:35pm with Clay Buccholz (4-2, 7.84 ERA) facing off against Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 2.73 ERA).