Red Sox Return To .500 On Salty’s Pinch-Hit Blast
By Conor Duffy
One has to wonder if this current year is shaping up like 2004. There was the bench clearing brawl two nights ago and then the walk-off win after being behind last night; one has to think that this could be turning point of the year, where the Red Sox really come together. It’ll be hard for the Red Sox not to continue to momentum from last night’s win, even with Clay Buchholz pitching today. The Red Sox played a pretty strong game on all facets, and eventually the runs came to prove that they had outplayed the Rays.
Josh Beckett was awesome last night– as he has been so many times against the Rays in his career. He started the game off by striking out Carlos Pena on a wicked curve, and he never really looked back. He didn’t allow a hit until the third and even so, his pitches were really working. Even though his velocity is down from years past, his low-90’s fastball is still effective when paired with his mid-80’s change and high-70’s curveball. He lasted seven innings total– allowing just two runs and throwing 91 pitches (69 of them strikes).
The Red Sox finally broke out of the scoreless tie in the sixth inning, when on a walk and a single, they put runners at first and second to lead off the frame. Kevin Youkilis lined out before Adrian Gonzalez lined a ball into center. However, when coming home, Dustin Pedroia was gunned on a strong throw by Upton to put their scoring chances in jeopardy with two outs and two on. However, Will Middlebrooks came through with a ground ball up the middle to score David Ortiz and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
The Rays stung the Red Sox for two runs in the top of the seventh, however. They put runners at the corners to start the inning, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Luke Scott to give them a 2-1 lead. That would be Josh Beckett’s last inning– as Andrew Miller came in to pitch the eighth, striking out a batter in a perfect frame. Rich Hill pitched a scoreless ninth to keep it at 2-1 heading to the bottom of the ninth. Daniel Nava walked to lead off the inning and Scott Podsednik bunted him to second with one out. Marlon Byrd was 0-3 with two strikeouts on the day, so Bobby Valentine put Jarrod Saltalamacchia in to pinch-hit. It’s fair to say that Salty delivered when he took an inside fastball over the wall to win a 3-2 ballgame in dramatic fashion.