|Closing Time: Pedro Ciriaco plays hero role again as Sox win in extras over Yankees||07.29.12 at 11:49 pm ET|
Pedro Ciriaco continued his unlikely emergence as a Yankee killer, fighting off a fastball from reliever David Robertson and dropping it into shallow right field for a game-winning RBI in the 10th inning, as the Red Sox persevered for a 3-2 victory over the Yankees in extra innings.
The Sox appeared poised for an impressive victory predicated on a dominant outing from left-hander Felix Doubront, but a bullpen hiccup in the eighth allowed New York to tie the contest and set the stage for a potentially devastating defeat. However, after permitting the game-tying hit, close Alfredo Aceves responded by retiring the next seven hitters he faced, and an unlikely rally in the 10th allowed the Sox to return to Boston with a .500 record with less than 48 hours remaining until the trade deadline.
A leadoff walk by Jarrod Saltalamacchia preceded a controversial play, as Will Middlebrooks squared to bunt but was hit on his hand by a pitch. However, the umpires ruled the play a foul ball, an interpretation disputed by Bobby Valentine, who was ejected.
However, down 0-2 in the count, Middlebrooks grounded a single through the left side of the infield to advance Saltalamacchia to second. That preceded Ciriaco’s bloop single, which gave the Sox a series win.
Ciriaco is now 11-for-22 (.500) against the Yankees this year. It was his second game-winning hit of good fortune in as many days, following his knuckling triple to center in the ninth inning on Saturday.
With the victory, the Sox are now four games out of the second spot in the wild card race.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Felix Doubront is now reaching a time of the season where it would be perfectly understandable if he was to hit a wall. In his first full season in a big league rotation — after being limited by a number of injuries in 2011 — the left-hander entered Sunday night having logged 107 innings, more than he had in any season since 2009, and nearing his career high of 129 1/3 frames set in 2008.
But on Sunday night, Doubront rendered such concerns moot, at least for a time. In a dominant start in Yankee Stadium, he logged 6 1/3 innings while striking out eight.
Doubront elicited a colossal 15 swings and misses among his 108 pitches, getting a handful of whiffs on both his fastball (which he pumped at up to 95 mph) and changeup, and his cutter and curve were also at times swing-and-miss offerings. Though he walked five, he permitted just four hits — three singles (one of the infield variety) and a solo homer in the seventh by Russell Martin — during the course of his outing, continuing a year in which he has been overpowering against the Yankees.
Doubront has three quality starts against the Yankees this year; no other Red Sox starter has one. In fact, in six non-Doubront starts, the Sox rotation has a 9.73 ERA. Doubront, meanwhile, has a 2.41 ERA in three starts against New York, and he has left the game with his team leading in every one of his starts. While the bullpen has blown two of those games (potential wins that would have left Doubront with a dozen wins at this point), his performance against an elite AL team has underscored the notion that he has the potential to be a key contributor to the Red Sox rotation for years to come.
– Ryan Sweeney, in his first start in six days, delivered a two-run, two-out double to left-center in the top of the second inning. It was Sweeney’s first RBIs of the second half; prior to that, he was 1-for-16 with three walks and a line of .063/.211/.125/.336 since the All-Star break. In fact, more broadly, Sweeney was hitting just .170/.228/.245/.472 with three runs batted in over his previous 33 games dating to May 12. It was also Sweeney’s second hit that resulted in two runs all season.
– Andrew Miller delivered what was, at the time, a game-saving relief appearance, entering the contest with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh and escaping the jam. He promptly got a soft fly out from Curtis Granderson and then elicited an inning-ending groundout from Mark Teixeira. Of the 27 baserunners he’s inherited this year, just three (11 percent) have scored.
However, after retiring the first two batters of the eighth, he permitted a double to Andruw Jones that ended his night. That turned into the game-tying run, as closer Alfredo Aceves gave up Martin’s game-tying single.
– Adrian Gonzalez continued his strong career showing against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda, delivering a pair of singles in three at-bats against the longtime Dodgers right-hander. Gonzalez is now 10-for-29 (.345) against Kuroda in his career.
– Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked a pair of walks, the third time this year that he has walked multiple batters in the same game. After enduring a drastic slide for much of July, Saltalamacchia has bounced back with a vastly improved approach in his last six games,
WHAT WENT RIGHT AND WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Alfredo Aceves, brought in for a four-out save with the Sox clinging to a 2-1 lead with two outs in the eighth inning and a runner on second, required just one pitch to blow the save opportunity. He gave up a first-pitch, game-tying single to Russell Martin on a 95 mph fastball down the middle. Aceves has permitted half (5 of 10) of his inherited runners to score this season. It was his fifth blown save in 27 opportunities this season.
However, that hit was the only one allowed by the Red Sox closer, who recorded seven outs for the victory. In the process, after hitting a batter with two outs in the 10th, he beamed while banishing Bob McClure to the dugout after the Sox’ pitching coach emerged came out for a mound conference.
The 2 1/3 inning outing was tied for the second longest of the year for the Sox closer.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– The Sox grounded into five double plays, including a particularly costly one by Adrian Gonzalez to end the sixth inning, when he grounded into a twin-killing with runners on the corners and one out. The Red Sox had entered the night having grounded into the second lowest rate of double plays with runners in scoring position, having done so just once every 48 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. Only the Athletics, who had grounded into one double play for every 58 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, had a lower rate.
– Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-4, the only member of the Red Sox lineup not to reach base.
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