Turning off the TV shouldn’t be an option.
The Red Sox once again fought until the very end Thursday, and the result was a long, eventful, ugly and dramatic 9-8, 10-inning victory over the Yankees that further solidified Boston’s status as a must-watch team.
The Red Sox looked to be well on their way to another victory Thursday, as Jake Peavy took the mound in the seventh inning with a 7-2 lead. Peavy allowed the first two hitters of the inning to reach before departing, though, and the Yankees ultimately struck for six runs to grab an 8-7 advantage.
At that point, most teams would have crumbled. And if they didn’t, David Robertson’s scoreless eighth inning against the top of the order to bridge the gap to the greatest closer of all time surely would have been enough to start the crumbling. As we’ve seen countless times this season, though, the Red Sox aren’t like most teams.
Mariano Rivera recorded two quick outs in the ninth inning, which typically means that it’s time to start packing up the equipment. But after laying off a 3-1 cutter just off the inside corner, Mike Napoli lined Rivera’s 3-2 offering into right-center field for a two-out single to keep the game alive. The Red Sox then called upon Quintin Berry to pinch run, and he immediately swiped second base and advanced to third base when Austin Romine’s throw ended up in left field. Stephen Drew knotted the game up at eight apiece with a single on the next pitch.
“Scramble. Do what you can,” manager John Farrell said when asked how to approach facing Rivera with two outs and nobody on. “Mike comes up with the big base hit and then, as we said, the stolen base by Berry was key. They throw the ball away, and then Stephen gets just enough on it to dump a ball into right-center field. It was more exemplary of maybe the grit and playing until the 27th out that has been the case many times over this year.”
The Red Sox’ two-out rally against Rivera in the ninth inning was impressive, but there was still work to be done as the two teams headed for bonus baseball. Jacoby Ellsbury singled with one out in the 10th inning, and he — like Berry an inning prior — moved up into scoring position via a big theft. Shane Victorino, who homered to kick off Boston’s three-run fifth inning, drove in Ellsbury with a single into right field.
Joba Chamberlain nearly struck out Victorino before the go-ahead single. He threw him a 1-2 slider out of the strike zone, and it looked like Victorino might have offered at it. First plate umpire Joe West ruled that Victorino checked his swing, though, and The Flyin’ Hawaiian took advantage of his second life by sending the next pitch over the infield.
“It’s a borderline call. We may have caught a break there,” Farrell said. “I don’t know without seeing a replay. But in the end, it gives him a breath of life still, and he fights off a fastball up from Chamberlain for the go-ahead run.”
Koji Uehara closed out the Red Sox’ 9-8 win with yet another perfect save, and Boston has now won 10 of its last 12 games. But as consistent as the Red Sox have been, their victories have come in all different shapes and sizes. It’s a recipe that not only makes the Red Sox dangerous, but it also makes them worth watching from start to finish on any given night.