The Red Sox welcomed a familiar face back into the lineup tonight as Mike Napoli returned from a stint on the disabled list. Napoli’s return gave the Red Sox a new-look lineup with a big power bat back in the middle of the lineup and the Red Sox took advantage of that in Sunday’s series finale against the Detroit Tigers. However, while Napoli certainly played a big part in the Red Sox’ improbable victory, the biggest impact in the game was felt by a different pair of contributors– one a familiar face and one not so much.
Though the Red Sox were down 3-2 entering the ninth inning, a comeback didn’t feel incredibly far out of reach. The Red Sox were down only one run and had the top of the lineup up to begin the inning. Things got off to a great start when Brock Holt bounced a 1-2 pitch right back up the middle for his fourth hit of the night. However, a Xander Bogaerts strikeout clouded the potential of the inning. The roller-coaster ride that was this game continued with the next batter, though, as Dustin Pedroia worked a walk to put two men on base with just one out for David Ortiz.
And Ortiz came through.
On a 1-1 count, Ortiz crushed a hanging slider for a no-doubt home run to right field to give the Red Sox a 5-3 lead and promptly silence a rowdy Detroit crowd. That was all the Red Sox would get in the inning, but it would also be all they would need, as Koji Uehara shut the Tigers down with a 1-2-3 inning to snap the Red Sox’ five-game losing skid.
While the game ended on a positive note, however, the game was a battle throughout for the Red Sox. Boston did push across the first run of the game in the third inning, when a Dustin Pedroia sacrifice fly scored Jackie Bradley Jr., but the Tigers countered with a run of their own in the bottom of the third.
The Tigers took the lead in the fourth inning when Miguel Cabrera doubled and Victor Martinez singled, pushing a run across just two pitches into the inning. However, a double play and fly out later and John Lackey had himself a five-pitch inning, further signifying the see-saw nature of this ballgame.
And that see-saw returned to even in the top of the sixth inning when Mike Napoli homered to right field to tie the game at 2-2, snapping a streak of 103 consecutive homer-less at bats– the longest such streak of his career. But the game wouldn’t stay even for long.
The Tigers started the seventh inning with a Nick Castellanos single followed by Austin Jackson reaching first on an error by third baseman Xander Bogaerts. John Lackey, still pitching in the seventh inning (Lackey would go on to pitch eight innings and actually remain in the game long enough to receive a win), inspired some hope with the strikeout of Alex Avila. However, rookie Eugenio Suarez– starting in just the second game of his career– hooked a single into left field to score Castellanos from second base and give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. But Lackey caught a break when Rajai Davis grounded into a tailor-made double play to end the inning.
Neither team scored in the eighth inning and the rest is history. The Red Sox busted off an improbable win (about time!) and will look to continue this success with their new-look lineup. The Red Sox’ next series will be against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore and Jake Peavy (1-3, 4.72 ERA) will face Bud Norris (4-5, 4.41 ERA) in the series opener tomorrow night.