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Closing Time: Red Sox erupt for 7 runs in 11th inning to beat Blue Jays

08.26.14 at 11:42 pm ET
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Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia drove in five of the Sox' seven runs in the 11th innings. (Getty Images)

Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia drove in five of the Sox’ seven runs in the 11th innings. (Getty Images)

On Sunday, Mike Napoli talked about the importance of treating the remainder of the schedule as meaningful, of respecting the game in a fashion that maintained the integrity of the team’s who still have something to play for in 2014. The veteran said that the Red Sox were mindful of the teams that had fallen out of the race last year that nonetheless still fought for wins against contenders; the Sox, Napoli hoped, would do the same.

Through the first two games against the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Sox have done just that, delivering a potentially terminal pair of losses on the Jays, the latest an 11-7 victory in 11 innings on Tuesday. The Sox scored seven or more runs in an extra-inning frame for just the second time in at least the last 30 years, the previous such instance coming on August 16, 2005, then held on for dear life as reliever Heath Hembree struggled to secure the final three outs.

Still, secure them he did, as the Red Sox left the Blue Jays reeling, seven games out of the wild card race.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– For the second straight game, Dustin Pedroia went deep, launching a two-run homer in the top of the first against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. It was the first time since last July 30-31 that he’s gone deep in consecutive games. He later delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single in the 11th to set in motion the Sox’ victory. His four runs batted in matched a season high.

– Napoli smoked a three-run homer (his 16th of the year) to blow the game open as part of a 2-for-5 game.

– Yoenis Cespedes had his third straight multi-hit game, going 3-for-6 with a trio of singles including a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the seventh. He also now has a five-game hitting streak that has included at least one run in in each contest, a run during which he’s 10-for-22 with a pair of walks. His stretch of five straight games with a hit and RBI is the longest by a Red Sox this year. Cespedes is 10-for-31 with a walk and 18 RBIs with runners in scoring position since joining the Sox.

– Will Middlebrooks continued his tremendous success against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. He drove a first-inning RBI double to center against Dickey, improving to 4-for-11 against him, with all four of the hits (two doubles, two homers) having been for extra bases — the most extra-base hits Middlebrooks has against any big league pitcher. However, Middlebrooks’ strong night was somewhat qualified by the fact that in the 11th, he struck out against infielder-turned-pitcher Steve Tolleson.

– Brock Holt singled against tough left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, thus improving to .311/.360/.430 against southpaws this year.

Allen Craig hit his first homer since joining the Sox, a two-run shot in the 11th.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– For the first time in his 24 big league starts, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa did not strike out a batter. While he had plenty of velocity, he fooled no one over the course of his 4 2/3 innings in which he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks.

While it would be natural to wonder whether De La Rosa has fatigued due to a career-high innings log, he had struck out eight in his last outing and indeed in two of his prior three. Moreover, it’s worth noting that the Blue Jays have been all over De La Rosa this year, having whiffed just twice in a total of 14 2/3 innings spanning three starts against Toronto.

There’s been some discussion throughout the year about whether De La Rosa has been tipping his pitches. If so, it would appear that Toronto has developed a very keen sense of when he’s throwing his fastball.

It’s also worth noting that De La Rosa, whose success this year had derived largely from his ability to elicit ground balls and work down in the strike zone, operated at the top of the zone throughout the night. He got just four groundouts, and in some respects, was fortunate to limit the damage to just three runs during his outing.

– Alex Wilson’s streak of nine straight scoreless innings came to an end when he allowed a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the seventh. He also gave up a walk, the first free pass he’d given up since May 25. He’d made six subsequent appearances spanning 13 1/3 innings without walking anyone.

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