Closing Time: Jacoby Ellsbury plays hero as Red Sox claim come-from-behind win
|05.26.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
Jacoby Ellsbury finished Sunday’s game in most dramatic — and unusual — fashion.
With the bases-loaded and two outs in the ninth, Ellsbury rifled Joe Smith’s first and only pitch into the left-center field gap for a game-winning double. It handed the Sox a 6-5 win over the Indians, giving John Farrell’s team the series win.
Smith had come on for closer Chris Perez, who was forced to leave the game with the count 2-1 on Ellsbury due to a shoulder injury. Perez had already allowed two runs to the Sox in the ninth while loading the bases, with Jonny Gomes representing the tying run at third.
After Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had both scored in the ninth to bring the hosts within a run, Gomes walked. The outfielder was followed by Stephen Drew’s single and Jose Iglesias’ walk.
After seeing three pitches from Perez, Ellsbury jumped all over Smith’s first-pitch fastball for the game-winner. It locked down the Red Sox’ fourth walk-off win of the season, pushing them 11 games over .500 for first time since May 3.
“I’ve never really been in that situation, but I know him coming in, his mindset is to throw a strike and try to make it 2-2,” Ellsbury said. “I figured, be aggressive if I got my pitch.”
“I think the biggest thing is that we didn’t abandon the plan,” Farrell said. “We continued to stay with, I think, a pretty strict strike zone. Perez threw a number of quality pitches that were just off the edge. We were able to bunch some hits and the three walks combined. When David hits the double, I think we felt like we had life in the ninth inning, but certainly it elevated it a notch or two. And really, when you think back to the ninth inning, the key at-bat to me was Iglesias’ walk. He fouls off a tough two-strike pitch, takes a close 3-2 pitch to walk. Unfortunately for them, Perez goes out with an injury. We felt like when smith came in, that arm slot fit jake’s swing pretty well and we saw the reason for it.”
Early on, the Sox couldn’t solve Cleveland starter Corey Kluber, who struck out 10 while walking one while allowing just one run on three hits. The strikeouts were a career-high for the righty, who came in with a 5.76 ERA over 29 2/3 innings as a starter. (He had totaled five innings in relief.) The Red Sox came into the game boasting the third-best OPS (.828) in the majors against right-handed starters.
Felix Doubront had trouble carrying over the momentum of his last start, allowing two, first-inning runs. The lefty somewhat rebounded, finishing a 112-pitch outing having given up four runs on five hits, striking out eight and walking two.
“I’ll tell you, with this team, I think it is a nice little character-builder,” Gomes said. “I mean, win or lose, you got to clear the slate when you leave these doors right here. We come in tomorrow, zero-zero. You know, that one game in this series, we lost by a bunch, cleaned the slate, came in ready. With a new team and a new day tomorrow, there’s no momentum. It’s a clean slate, so I think the team’s done a good job of that.”
Here is what went right in the Red Sox’ 31st win of the season:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Daniel Nava clubbed a ball off the base of the left field wall in the third inning, scoring Drew, who had led off the frame with a ground-rule double to right. It was the 16th RBI for Nava, which is second-best on the team. Unfortunately for the outfielder, Michael Brantley made a perfect transfer on the play off the wall, ultimately gunning down Nava at second for the inning’s final out.
- Drew would also score the Red Sox’ second run, coming in on Jose Iglesias’ eighth-inning sacrifice fly.
“It was just a good day overall,” said the Sox shortstop. “I felt like I’ve been swinging the bat well, I just haven’t had any results. It was one of those days you kind of look back, hit the ball well and this time they didn’t catch it. Right place at the right time.”
- The Red Sox managed to cut the lead to one in the ninth as Pedroia led off with a walk and was followed by double off the bat of Ortiz. Both runners would score on ground outs.
- Saltalamacchia threw out his fourth attempted base-stealer (in 25 chances), gunning down Bourn in the seventh. The play resulted in an argument between the Indians’ outfielder and second base umpire Tom Halion, leading to Cleveland manager Terry Francona running on the field to join the dispute. While the three were arguing, the singing of ‘God Bless America’ began, forcing the trio to pause their argument, take off theirs hats and thereby ending the disagreement.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Doubront had issues out of the gate. After Michael Bourn led off with a single, and stole second base, Jason Kipnis reached when Ellsbury dropped a shallow pop-up (with Stephen Drew offering somewhat of a distraction while also chasing after the hit). Nick Swisher loaded the bases with a single, leading to Carlos Santana’s two-run single. Three hits were the most allowed by Doubront in a first inning this season.
“It was pretty slow the first two innings,” Doubront said. “Overall, I feel good. I feel good. That happens. A couple mistakes. There were two homers and an 0-2 mistake to Santana to drive in the first two runs. Other than that, keep working, keep working the other innings and try to get outs. I think everything went well. It doesn’t matter what happens, you just have to keep working and be more efficient and try to do better next time.”
- The Red Sox starter allowed Cleveland to add some cushion thanks to a pair of solo home runs. The first came in the fifth, when Kipnis’ line-drive curled around the right-field foul pole. The Indians then made it 4-1 as Swisher deposited a 2-2 fastball from Doubront over the left field wall. It marked the first time this season the lefty has allowed multiple home runs.
- Ellsbury experienced another miscue in the field when he allowed Kipnis’ ball to right-center field drop between himself and Nava, who made a desperate lunge at what resulted in a leadoff double. The base-hit ultimately led to the visitors’ fifth run when Swisher’s sacrifice fly to left plated Kipnis. (The Red Sox did manager a double-play on the scoring play, with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia taking the throw from Daniel Nava and firing it to first in time to get Asdrubal Cabrera cheating off first base.)
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