Closing Time: Mike Napoli leads Red Sox to walk-off win over Yankees
|07.22.13 at 12:58 am ET|
Mike Napoli kept getting his chance, and he finally took it in the 11th inning when he blasted his second home run of the game to deep center field to help the Red Sox walk off with an 8-7 win over the Yankees at Fenway Park on Sunday night.
Napoli, who finished 2-for-6 in the game with four runners left in scoring position with two outs, also hit a three-run shot in the third inning, which gave Boston a 4-3 lead and swung momentum to Boston’s dugout. Napoli had not hit a home run off of a lefty since May 1 and was batting .247/.340/.355 with only one homer against lefties on the season entering Sunday night.
The right-handed hitter started the season red hot with 18 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs in April, but struggled at the plate in June, only hitting two extra-base hits and 14 RBIs while striking out 25 times in 76 at-bats. However, he has rediscovered his power swing since the beginning of July, and has seven extra-base hits and seven RBIs in only 13 games this month.
It was the ninth walk-off win of the season for the Red Sox (four of which have come via home run), who are now 33-17 at Fenway Park and 14-9 in one-run games. The Sox are already tied for their most walk-off wins in a season since they had 10 in 2006. The victory also allowed the team to stay 1½ games in front of the Rays, who come to Fenway Park on Monday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
— The Red Sox continue to do damage to left-hander CC Sabathia. The Yankees ace has allowed six or more runs in seven starts over the last three years. Five of those have come against the Red Sox. Sabathia was hit hard for seven runs on nine hits (two homers) in five innings on Sunday.
— While Jonny Gomes did not have anyone on base while he did it, Gomes hit a similar long ball to Napoli’s first as he crushed a pitch high over the Green Monster in the fifth inning. Like Napoli, Gomes has been hot at the plate as of late. In his previous 29 games entering Sunday night, Gomes was batting .311/.330/.567 with five homers, eight doubles and 15 RBIs.
— Jacoby Ellsbury took a while to get going this season, but he is finally back to being one of the top leadoff hitters in baseball this season. Ellsbury went 2-for-4 Sunday with a single, a double, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. In the month of July entering Sunday, Ellsbury was batting .358/.414/.566 with two doubles and four stolen bases. He’s had eight games this year in which he’s reached base at least four times, including five since the start of June.
— A questionable decision to sacrifice bunt with a runner on second and nobody out down by three runs ended up paying off for the Red Sox, as Ellsbury advanced to third on the bunt and then scored on a Dustin Pedroia single during the next at-bat. While the move was a surprise because of the situation, the fact that it was Shane Victorino performing the sacrifice should not have been a surprise. Victorino now leads the Red Sox with six sacrifice hits on the season.
— The Red Sox got a pair of key contributions from members of their bullpen who were recently summoned from Pawtucket. In the tenth inning, rookie Drake Britton forced Lyle Overbay to ground out into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and second to maintain the tie. Pedro Beato pitched a scoreless 11th for the victory.
— Ortiz stole second base in the bottom of the sixth inning for his fourth steal on the season. Four steals in a season is a career high for Ortiz, who recorded three steals in 2007.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— The Red Sox bullpen once again proved a vulnerability. Entrusted with a 7-4 lead in the top of the sixth, Craig Breslow allowed one inherited runner to score and then was charged with two of his own (one earned) when he gave up a walk and a single while retiring just one batter in the seventh. The blown save was the Sox’ 15th of the year.
— A couple of fielding miscues gave the Yankees an opportunity to tack on two runs in the first inning, as both Dempster and Jarrod Saltalamacchia made errant throws to second base. Dempster’s error was on a grounder back to the pitcher, as he hurried the ball to second in the hopes of doubling up Ichiro Suzuki at first base. Then with Suzuki attempting to steal second, Saltalamacchia’s throw passed into centerfield and allowed Brett Gardner to score from third base. When Suzuki scored later in the inning, Dempster was left with two unearned runs on the board.
This type of poor fielding is nothing new from the Red Sox though. Boston’s pitchers are tied for second most throwing errors in the American League with six on the season. Red Sox catchers have been equally as bad, as they are tied for second worst in the American League with seven throwing errors.
— More poor fielding hurt the Red Sox in the top of the seventh inning, when a bunt single from Stewart drew an errant throw from Jose Iglesias and led to the Yankees tying the game at 7. Iglesias, who is adjusting to playing third base, had to make a hard charge at the ball and a throw at an odd angle, which likely led to the error.
Iglesias now has three errors in 227 innings at third base, compared to one error through 231 innings at shortstop.
— Ryan Dempster did not have a great night on the mound, only lasting 5 1/3 innings and allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits and four walks. Dempster’s control was a big part of his struggle on the night, as he only threw 57 of his 98 pitches (58.2 percent) for strikes. He walked the Yankees No. 8 hitter Chris Stewart (batting .239/.312/.307 entering Sunday) twice.
— The Red Sox had no answer for Shawn Kelley, who struck out five of the six hitters he faced in the ninth and 10th innings.
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