BOSTON — There’s no need to adjust your TV or call your local cable provider. The Red Sox you saw walk off with a dramatic, come-from-behind victory Sunday indeed was the 2014 edition of the club, not the 2013 version.
The Red Sox showed some of their trademark resilience by rallying from five runs down to defeat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 in walk-off fashion. The game, which was preceded by an emotional pregame ceremony honoring the victims and first responders of last April’s Boston Marathon bombing, featured some tense final moments and a wacky ending that looked eerily similar to something last year’s World Series-winning team might have whipped up.
“We won some crazy ones (last year) and this was a wild one,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “We’ll take it. We did some good things. They got some great starting pitching. We fought back and put some good at-bats together.”
Pedroia was at the heart of Sunday’s wild finish. He nearly homered with the score tied 5-5 and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, as his fly ball to deep left field appeared to hit the ledge in front of the seats atop the Green Monster. The ball bounced back onto the field and Pedroia cruised into second base with a double, but the umpires took another look at the play to ensure it wasn’t a game-winning home run.
Fans at Fenway Park chanted, “Home run! Home run!” as the umps reviewed Pedroia’s fly ball for two minutes, two seconds. There were several factors to consider on the controversial play, including whether a fan touched the ball, and the umpires ultimately decided there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the initial call. The play stood as a double.
“I thought mine was a bit more of a homer than (Nick) Markakis’ (challenged) double the first night,” Pedroia said. “But I’m not a doctor or anything.”
Pedroia soon found himself at third base after Brian Matusz uncorked a wild pitch with David Ortiz at the plate. It was an aggressive baserunning play that also was reminiscent of something you’d have seen last year.
The bases filled up when Mike Napoli got drilled on the knee with a pitch. Napoli hit the ground like a ton of bricks and stayed down for several seconds, briefly silencing the rambunctious Fenway Park crowd. He finally made his way to first base for the game’s nutty ending.
Mike Carp pinch-hit for Jonny Gomes, whose three-run homer in the sixth inning kickstarted the Red Sox’s offense, and hit a line drive to left field that stayed up long enough for David Lough to make the catch. Pedroia started home but needed to retreat once Lough made the grab, and the Orioles left fielder quickly fired toward third base. Lough’s errant throw ended up rattling around near the backstop, at which point Pedroia tagged up and raced home with the winning run.
“I don’t think it’s strange when you win. A win’s a win,” Gomes said. “It’s obviously nice to get the emotions up with the excitement of a walk-off. It’s not ideal. At the end of the day, you kind of want to win (by bringing closer) Koji (Uehara) in to slam the door. But it’s good to know we have that (type of win) in our pocket.”
The Red Sox, who trailed 5-0 entering the sixth inning, certainly showed character. It was a reminder that while this is a new team and a new year, there still are plenty of holdovers who aren’t ready to fold just because they have a target on their backs in the wake of a championship.