As the old saying goes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. There is, perhaps, a much lesser known saying but one that probably goes something like this: “Sighted squirrels are much better at finding nuts than blind ones.”
As the Yankees set up shop in Fenway for a three-game set against the Sox with the Orioles and Rays in hot pursuit, it was up to Jon Lester to stop the Sox latest losing skid. One win sandwiched in between seven and three-game beat downs had landed Boston in the AL East cellar. All that was left was pride and having something to say about the AL East playoff picture since Boston plays the Yankees for the last time this year and finishes out the month by playing the Orioles and Rays twice.
To say that Lester has had a sub par season is like saying Jerry Sandusky got in a little bit of a scrape.
He has pitched better of late and has notched a couple wins along the way. In sum total, however, this is a season of frustration that Lester would sooner forget. It has left him talking to himself, the media and essentially anyone that will listen.
As would be expected in this ugliest of seasons, none of it was pretty. Through 6.1 innings Lester had given up only three hits but had walked seven. Amazingly – perhaps nuttily – he was up 2-1. Eventually, his luck ran out. He walked Curtis Granderson to open the frame and then gave up a single to Andruw Jones. Jayson Nix moved Granderson and Jones to second and third with a sacrifice bunt. Derek Jeter put New York up 3-2 with a ground rule double that blooped down the right field line and then plopped into the stands. Bobby Valentine had seen enough. Junichi Tazawa was summoned and stopped the bleeding with two Ks to end the inning.
The Sox broke back in the bottom of the sixth on Dustin Pedroia‘s 15th home run of the season to knot the contest at 3-3.
In the eighth things got a little, well, nuts. Ryan Kalish squared to bunt to lead off the inning and ended up slashing a blooper over the head of pitcher Hiroki Kuroda that died and nestled neatly between Jeter, second baseman Robinson Cano and third baseman Nix. In Boston’s next at bat Pedro Ciriaco bunted a ball with so much backspin that Yankee catcher Russell Martin could have easily let it go foul but inexplicably scooped it up after hesitating, leaving him no chance to get the speedy Ciriaco. Kuroda was jammed up with two on and nobody out. After Mike Aviles struck out, Kuroda was gone, giving way to Boone Logan.
With Kalish and Ciriaco aboard, Jacoby Ellsbury grounded weakly between first and second. Logan failed to cover first base and suddenly the Sox had the bases loaded with one out on two terrible bunts and a muffed play at first on a lame hit. Yankee reliever Joba Chamberlain got Daniel Nava to ground to Nick Swisher to force out Kaslih at the plate. Pedoria popped out to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded and the score still tied at 3-3. It was a bizarre inning that ended with a thud.
After giving up a single to Swisher with one out in the ninth Sox closer Andrew Bailey pitched out of jam and got some defensive help after Swisher’s pinch runner replacement, Eduardo Nunez, was gunned down by Ryan Lavarnway trying to steal second and Alex Rodriguez struck out on a Bailey 96-mph fastball.
Ciriaco singled with one out in the ninth and Aviles followed with a ground ball too deep in the hole for Jeter to make a play. The Sox were in business with Ellsbury at the plate.
In one swing Ellsbury got a 29th birthday present, plating Ciriaco with the winning run on a hit that sliced between Cano and Swisher and into right field, Ellsbury’s fourth hit of the night.
And so the squirrel found his nut, the hated Yankees were thwarted, the Birds beat the Rays 9-2 to pull even with the Bombers for the division lead and there was happiness for once in Beantown. Let’s see if the squirrel can perhaps find some glasses down the stretch.
Takes my fishing boat on Monday morning
If we all believe in the things you believe you’re seeing
Oh we’d never drop our nets in the crazy water, crazy water
- Crazy Water, Elton John