Dice-K was in rare form tonight, pitching the way we had been expecting him to pitch ever since the Sox signed him: 8 IP, 4 H’s, 2 R’s, 1 BB, and 7 K’s on 110 pitches; numbers worthy of a gem nomination. However, Phil Hughes was one run better: 6 IP, 3 H’s, 1 R, 4 BB’s, 4 K’s. Robertson and Wood kept the Sox in check before handing the ball over to Mo for a 4 out save opportunity. Mo put Beltre down to end the 8th, Score NYY 2, BOS 1. Not looking good, I’m thinking. I highly doubted Mo would go belly-up on the Sox again in another high pressure situation as he did in the 2004 ALCS. But with these 2 teams, you never know what can happen. The situations are endless, no lead is ever safe.
On to the 9th inning, Jed Lowrie flies out to lead off. Ryan Kalish singles. OK, we’re not dead yet. With Bill Hall batting, Kalish steals 2nd base. Yes! With Bill Hall batting, Kalish steals 3rd base! Holy Crap! Bill Hall singles, scoring Kalish! YES! Tie score! In comes Mike Lowell to pinch hit for Lars. With Mike Lowell batting, Bill Hall steals 2nd base! I don’t believe this! They got into Mo’s head! With Mike Lowell batting, Bill Hall steals 3rd base! This is unbelievable! There’s only 1 out so far. Mike Lowell hits a long fly ball, caught by Granderson, but Hall scores- sac fly and an RBI for Mike, and the Sox take the lead!
Scutaro flied out to centerfield to end the inning, but this has to be some kind of record. I’ve seen the Sox hit 4 home runs in a row against the Yankees, and I’ve seen Jacoby Ellsbury steal home from Pettitte and Posada, but 4 stolen bases in a row? Against the same pitcher? And said pitcher being Mo? That has to be some sort of record. I’ll let the folks at RedSox.com and BaseballReference.com deal with checking into that and I’ll report back later.
Papelbon comes into pitch the bottom of the 9th inning. Now there is absolutely no way he can blow his 8th game this season. Jeter flies out before Swisher singles. (Shift positions in my chair.) Teixeira singles. (No, no, no.) Nunez was sent in to pinch run for Swisher and steals 3B. (No, this is not happening.) A-Rod walks. Bases loaded. (Groan.) Pap is still missing with his splitter. and now he has absolutely no room for error. A fly ball, hit, balk, walk, HBP… all of them will score a run. Posada strikes out. 2 outs. Pap’s not out of this mess yet, despite the huge K by Posada. Lance Berkman flies out to end the inning, but Pap just earned his 8th blown save and saw his ERA go over the 4.00 mark for the first time in his career. Into extra innings we go. Thanks, Pap. (For comparison, Mo earned his 5th BS of the year.)
Chamberlain and Logan pitch a scoreless 10th. Bard is on the shelf for the night, as he had thrown 28 pitches the night before. Atchison? No, he’s in a rut right now. The rookies? No, too much of a pressure cooker right now. Tito goes with Okajima. Except for one pitch the night before, Oki has been looking much better ever since he came of the DL. Deep breath, let’s hope his resurgence is for real. It’s not. Single, single, IBB, bases loaded, as Oki looks as if he’s taking Papelbon’s “Closing for Idiots” book. Thames grounds into a force out at home. OK, a double play will work now. Juan Miranda, he of all of 63 AB’s this season and a dismal .222 BA steps up to the plate. This should be an easy out, a rookie in a high pressure situation such as this. There aren’t many situations in all of pro sports with this much tension. Ball 1. ($#!t!) Swinging strike. Better. Ball 2, ball 3, ball 4. Game over.
Some have noted David Ortiz’s remarks about being underpaid and possibly not getting an extension to be a little over the edge. They will pale in comparison to whatever Papelbon dares to ask for this winter. Just as I was beginning to think Oki has pitched his way back onto the 2011 roster, he puts himself perilously close to being non-tendered for next year.
The Yankees pitching staff held the Sox batters to a scattered 6 hits, 2 by Martinez and 2 by Hall. But those 4 steals… I’d still trade them for a win, though.
Tampa Bay won today and remain 1 game ahead of the Yankees. The Sox remain 5.5 GB the Yankees for the wild card spot. The Yankees take off for 3 games in Toronto before heading for Boston. They have 1 off day remaining. The Red Sox are on a plane to Chicago for 4 games with the White Sox before coming home for the last stand against the Yankees. The Yankees need only win 3 of their last 7 games to eliminate the Sox, even if the Sox win all 8 of their remaining games. Had Papelbon not crapped in his bed for the 8th time this season, the Yankees would have had to win 5 of their last 7 games. Papelbon, you just cost the Red Sox a playoff spot. Don’t even think about asking for a penny more than what you’re getting already.
Sox 3 Yankees 4 BOX SCORE