Red Sox Notes: ‘Old-School Baseball’ Key To ALDS Victory Over Rays

A sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly made the difference in the ninth


October 11, 2021

For the second consecutive night, the Boston Red Sox walked it off to earn a win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series. Of course, Monday’s victory was a bit different than Sunday’s, when Christian Vázquez launched a two-run home run to win it.

And no, it’s not different just because the Red Sox punched their ticket to the American League Championship Series with the 6-5 win, winning their third straight game after dropping Game 1 of the series. And not different just because it was on Marathon Monday, or because it ended in nine innings rather than 13.

It was because the Red Sox returned to fundamentals to come away with the Game 4 win at Fenway Park.

Vázquez got aboard with a single, Christian Arroyo moved him over to second with a perfect sacrifice bunt. Travis Shaw reached on a hard-hit single to third when he ran it out as Ji-Man Choi bobbled the catch at the bag, then Kiké Hernández had a sacrifice fly to bring home the winning run.

“We didn’t need to score four runs in the ninth,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “We only needed to score one. Christian (Vázquez) did a good job getting on base, Christian (Arroyo) did a good job putting the bunt down. Travis did a good job putting the ball in play. It’s something we always talk about. Then Kiké put the ball in the air.

“Old-school baseball right there. Fundamental baseball. We won the ALDS playing good, fundamental baseball.”

Here are other notes from Monday’s Red Sox-Rays game:

— Garrett Whitlock added another chapter to his Cinderella story on Monday. The rookie — a Rule 5 draft pick out of the New York Yankees organization — had never played above the Double-A level before 2021, but he was calm, cool and collected through crucial innings for the Red Sox in Game 4.

The Rays stormed back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game, and Whitlock entered in the eighth inning. He got three outs to limit the damage while also making a crucial play backing up a throw to third base. He came back out for the ninth and retired the side in order to set up the walk-off situation.

— Eduardo Rodriguez struggled through his Game 1 start in the series, but he more than made up for it Monday. After all, he wasn’t supposed to get the ball for this one, with Nick Pivetta slated to be the starter — but after Pivetta was needed to get through Sunday’s 13-inning thriller, the Red Sox had to find someone fresh.

Rodriguez went five innings, striking out six and giving up two runs on three hits. He threw 57 of his 78 pitches for strikes and maintained his composure in high-pressure situations — notably in a 17-pitch at-bat to Austin Meadows, which ended in a strikeout.

“After the last start, today was just really special for me,” Rodriguez said after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “It was just amazing to go up there and have the opportunity to do what I did today.”

— The Red Sox await the winner of the ongoing series between the Astros and the Chicago White Sox, which Houston currently leads 2-1. Game 1 of the American League Championship Series is Friday, and the Red Sox — as the Wild Card team — will be on the road.

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