Red Sox Notes: ‘Filthy’ Craig Kimbrel Battles For Win As Sox Pull Out All Stops

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BOSTON — Thursday’s game meant more to the Red Sox than a late-June matchup typically would. John Farrell didn’t mind admitting it.

Boston came in having lost six of the first nine games of a 10-game homestand, including three in a row to the Chicago White Sox. Farrell’s club blew late leads in two of those White Sox wins, and with the team preparing to head out on a six-game road trip, the manager knew Thursday’s series finale was a contest his team absolutely needed to have.

“Very much so,” Farrell said when asked if he felt a greater sense of urgency than he would during an average midseason game. “We’re staring a four-game sweep at home, and that’s never a good thing. So, you find a way to pull out all the stops.”

He certainly did. Farrell used every position player on his bench, pinch-hit for his catcher in the sixth inning and milked two innings out of his closer, Craig Kimbrel, three days after Kimbrel had given up a game-winning double in a similar situation.

And, much to the delight of the 37,790 in attendance at Fenway Park, it all worked out.

Boston rallied from a three-run deficit, shook off what could have been a back-breaking three-run home run by White Sox slugger Jose Abreu in the seventh inning, got a clutch hit from backup catcher Sandy Leon and escaped bases loaded, nobody out jams in both the eighth and 10th innings en route to an 8-7 victory.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts finished off the afternoon with an RBI single in the bottom of the the 10th to give Boston its second walk-off win of the season.

“We all were (desperate for a win),” Bogaerts said. “… We’ve been one base hit away, or the home run calls (in Wednesday’s loss) — the Chris Young home run was just foul of being a potential game-winner right there. It’s just so close. But the things that were on their side, were on our side today.”

Some additional notes from a wild afternoon at Fenway:

— Kimbrel, who seldom pitches more than one inning, kept Chicago off the board in both the ninth and 10th to pick up his first win in a Red Sox uniform. He retired the side on eight pitches in his first frame but had to labor in his second, allowing the first three White Sox hitters to reach before dispatching the next three in a row.

Kimbrel culminated his outing with a strikeout of Adam Eaton that prompted an emphatic celebration on the mound.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Craig Kimbrel

?He shut it down,” Bogaerts said. “That?s how nasty he is. He?s pretty filthy. One of the best closers in the game. Obviously, that?s what we all expect from him. He?s human also, but more chances than not, you?re going to get a performance like that.”

— An second-inning injury to left fielder Chris Young forced the Red Sox to scramble and ultimately resulted in first/third baseman Travis Shaw playing the final three innings in left.

Shaw didn’t even start the game after leaving Wednesday’s with a bruised shin, but he assured Farrell he’d be good to go if called upon — even if it happened to be in a position he’d played just once before in his major league career.

“It was kind of spur of the moment,” Shaw said. “They asked me a little earlier in the game if I could go out there, and why not? I felt good enough.”

Shaw, who pinch-hit for Ryan LaMarre in the seventh inning and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, said he hadn’t played in the outfield since the second week of spring training. The one ball hit his way came with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth.

“It’s different, but it’s something that I’ve practiced before,” he said. “And (the man on third) didn’t run, so apparently the scouting report’s out: Don’t run.”

Photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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