Every walk off win is both exciting and relieving, but this one was more relieving than most. When Jonathan Diaz crossed the plate to give the Red Sox the fifth and winning run, it erased the evidence that this game could have gone a wildly different direction. The Red Sox had had everything going for them early on in the game, taking a 3-0 lead in the second with Ryan Dempster dealing through the first three innings. However, the Blue Jays fought back to tie the game in the ninth and things could have gone quite differently indeed.
The Red Sox went down fairly quietly in the first inning, but their bats really burst out against Mark Buehrle (4-5, 4.73) in the second inning. Mike Napoli started things off with a line drive single to center and Daniel Nava followed him with a single of his own. Ryan Lavarnway came up next and lifted a well-placed pop up down the first base line which barely eluded first baseman Adam Lind, falling fair before bouncing into the seats to add insult to injury with a ground-rule double. That pushed across the first run of the game for the Red Sox, but they weren’t done yet. After Jose Iglesias struck out, Brandon Snyder– making his first start in a Red Sox uniform– drove a hard double into the gap in left-center to score two and give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
With Ryan Dempster dealing, everything was looking bright on a sunny afternoon in Boston. However, Dempster’s control began to desert him in the fourth inning. Three of the first four batters in the inning singled to score one run for the Blue Jays and then they went on to load the bases with just one out in the inning. Maicer Izturis bounced a funky two-hopper to Daniel Nava, playing an unfamiliar first base, who was able to get an out but not the necessary double play. A run scored on the play, but that’s all that the Blue Jays would score in the inning, cutting the Red Sox’ lead to 3-2.
Dempster got back to work in the fifth, and the Red Sox gave him an insurance run to back up his work. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off the inning and reached second on a groundout from Shane Victorino. Ellsbury would score when Jonny Gomes lifted a fly ball about two thirds of the way up the wall in left field for an RBI double to make it 4-2.
However, things looked bleak again in the sixth inning. Dempster loaded the bases and worked one popup before John Farrell pulled him in favor of Craig Breslow. Breslow marvelously worked his way out of the inning with no runs scoring and the score stayed 4-2. However, Breslow would be tagged with a run when Jose Reyes led off the seventh with a home run. After two scoreless innings worked by the corps of Alex Wilson (.1 inning) and Andrew Miller (1.2 innings), Jose Bautista tied the game with a blast in the ninth inning.
However, Koji Uehara worked his way out of the inning with the game still tied. After Jose Iglesias bounced out to start the ninth, the Red Sox got to work on win number fifty. Brandon Snyder lined a leadoff single into right, and was promptly replaced by Jonathan Diaz as a pinch-runner. Jacoby Ellsbury walked to put runners at first and second for Shane Victorino. It didn’t look good off the bat when Victorino bounced a ball to first; however, Josh Thole– not a natural first baseman– misplayed the ball and it got by him. Diaz raced around third, easily scoring the winning run to give the Red Sox a 50-34 record on a great day at Fenway.