It was yet another crazy, epic game in a rivalry like no other in sports. Jake Peavy and the Boston bullpen blew a 7-2 lead in the seventh inning and the Red Sox clearly looked to be going down to an excruciating 8-7 loss in the Bronx Thursday night in game one of their three game set against the Yankees.
The Yankees scored six times in the seventh to take the lead. The Red Sox went down in order in the eighth with Mariano Rivera on tap to close out the game. With two outs in the ninth Mike Napoli singled to keep the Sox alive and hanging by a thread. Pinch runner Quintin Berry replaced Napoli, swiped second base (shades of Dave Roberts) and took third on the errant throw to second that squirted just far enough into center field to allow him to scamper head first into third base. Stephen Drew‘s soft liner to right center tied the game 8-8 handing Rivera his seventh blown save in 2013.
The night got more bizarre in the ninth. Craig Breslow walked Alfonso Soriano. As Soriano broke for second on a halting steal attempt, Breslow picked it up at the last second but flipped an awkward, meek toss to first baseman Daniel Nava and they couldn’t get Soriano.
With Curtis Granderson at the plate and Soriano standing on second representing the winning run, Soriano inexplicably broke for third base and Breslow picked him off dead to rights as he tried get back to second base. The blunder ran the Yankees out of a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. Free baseball!
In the 10th Jacoby Ellsbury singled off Joba Chamberlain, stole second and was driven home by Shane Victorino to give the Sox the 9-8 lead that would eventually prove to be the winning margin. I have a Yankee friend who calls Chamberlain “soap dish”. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions but in any event it personally makes me gleeful when this thrower – not to be mistaken for a pitcher – gives it up in a crucial situation.
Koji Uehara, as he has done to so many opponents in 2013, shut down the Yankees to nail down the Red Sox win. It was a lengthy, agonizing but nonetheless rewarding win that nearly broke Boston’s back but in the end humbled the Yankees, a team desperately trying to secure a wild card spot.
The win stretched Boston’s lead to nine games over the third place Yankees, held their 9.5 game lead over the fourth place Orioles were six games over the second place Tampa Bay Rays with the Rays game still in question against the Angels on the west coast (Angels up 6-2 in the 7th). Boston’s magic number is 17.
Game Notes: Anatomy of a meltdown: How Peavey and the Sox bullpen imploded to make it much closer than it needed to be
After last night’s 20-4 drubbing of the Tigers all looked well in hand with a five run lead until Jake Peavey gave up a walk to Ichiro Suzuki and a hit to Vernon Wells. Peavey had thrown 117 pitches so Sox manager John Farrell opted to bring in Matt Thornton. That’s when the roof fell in. Thornton gave up a single to Brett Gardner to score Ichiro and walked Derek Jeter to load the bases, which brought Robinson Cano to the plate.
Cano bounced a ball to Dustin Pedroia in what appeared to be an easy double play. The bounce was too high and took too long to get to Pedey and although they got the force at second, Stephen Drew couldn’t get it to first in time to turn two and the Yankees scored another run to make it 7-4 Boston.
With Junichi Tazawa on the mound replacing Thornton and with the Red Sox shifted heavily to the left side of the infield for dead pull hitter Alfonso Soriano, Soriano went the other way and hit the ball right where Pedroia would normally play to plate another Yankee run. 7-5 Boston. After a double by Curtis Granderson it was 7-6 and all of sudden the Red Sox juggernaut had stalled with Alex Rodriguez at the plate with men on second and third and only one out.
Tazawa struck out Rodriguez but gave up two-run single to Lyle Overbay that scored Soriano and Granderson to put the Yankees up 8-7.