Closing Time: Jon Lester’s excellence doesn’t go to waste thanks to Red Sox’ 9th-inning rally
|04.17.14 at 11:04 pm ET|
The Red Sox had entered the ninth with just one hit before Napoli delivered an infield single against Ronald Belisario. Mike Carp followed with a pinch-hit single, with the Red Sox catcher then coming through with the go-ahead RBI.
After an intentional walk to Daniel Nava, Jonathan Herrera greeted Scott Downs with a perfectly executed bunt single, handing the visitors an insurance run.
Both Red Sox starter Jon Lester and his White Sox counterpart, Chris Sale, saw no-hitters broken up with one out in their respective half of the sixth inning. For Lester, the Tyler Flowers single — just out of the reach of shortstop Xander Bogaerts — ended a perfect game.
In the visitors half of the sixth, Bogaerts broke up Sale’s no-hit bid, rocketing a solo home run over the left-field wall. The homer was the first surrendered by the lefty this season, and the rookie’s first of his 2014 campaign. Prior to giving up the long ball on his 95th pitch, Sale had struck out nine batters through 5 1/3 innings.
The Red Sox’ lead was short-lived, however. Leury Garcia followed Flowers with a ground-rule double over the head of Nava. Adam Eaton proceeded to knot things up with an infield hit, beating Lester to the bag on a grounder to Napoli.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
— The Red Sox cut down the potential go-ahead run in the seventh inning thanks to a stellar relay from Nava to second baseman Dustin Pedroia to Ross. The play came as a result of an Alejandro De Aza liner into the right field corner, with Adam Dunn coming all the way around from first base. Dunn would be tagged out by Ross on a close play at the plate, ending the seventh.
— The Red Sox continued to pick up their pace when it comes to drawing walks, following a 15-walk night with four more. Prior to Wednesday night, the Sox had gone five straight contests without notching more than three free passes. The patience helped force Sale to throw a career-high 127 pitches through his seven innings.
— Carp also helped alter the issues facing Red Sox pinch-hitters this season, coming away with the team’s second pinch hit of the season. The Sox now are 2-for-10 with a walk in such situations.
— Koji Uehara looked like the same old Koji Uehara in making his return to the mound, allowing just one ninth-inning hit in picking up the save.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— Since the Red Sox left Fenway just more than a week ago, their offense has been the worst in baseball. They came into the series finale tied with Houston for fewest hits (36) over the previous six games, and Thursday night’s production didn’t do much to push their way up the list.
— It looked as though the Red Sox would get to Sale in the first inning when David Ortiz launched a deep fly ball to center field. But Eaton raced back, leaped up and grabbed the blast just before it went over the wall. It would be the closest the Red Sox would come to claiming a hit off Sale until Bogaerts’ homer.
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