It's raining runs at Fenway bash
Bats full of thunder as Red Sox roar back
It all started with a round of boos. With Mike Lowell on first base and David Ortiz on second, J.D. Drew stood at the plate looking at a third strike to end the first inning. The late-arriving crowd, which would eventually swell to 36,640, didn't much like it.
Later on? Much better. Much more to their liking. Even Drew, the easy-to-bash right fielder, got cheers eventually.
Because tucked within a game in which every member of the Red Sox starting lineup recorded multiple hits (save Kevin Cash, who had three RBIs) were three for Drew, who scored four runs and performed a feat almost as rare as a comeback from a seven-run deficit: He hit a Fenway home run. It was his first since April 22, when he was part of the back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers against the Yankees' Chase Wright.
But, most certainly, he wasn't scoring alone. Mike Lowell (four hits, three runs) was the sole Boston starter not to drive in a run as the team saved Tim Wakefield against a team he almost always dominates, scoring a season high in runs for a 16-10 win over the Devil Rays one day after they couldn't score anything off Scott Kazmir.
"It was exciting," Cash said. "It was fun to be a part of. Not that this was a must-win game, but it was a big game for us to win."
As the Yankees were winning their sixth straight, the Red Sox faced an 8-1 deficit in the fourth inning, after Kyle Snyder was greeted with a three-run home run by Carlos Peña one batter after relieving Wakefield. Adding the four runs in that inning to four scored by the bottom of the Tampa Bay order in the second inning, Wakefield and Snyder had placed the Red Sox in a deep hole, just as Wakefield had with a 3 2/3-inning, six-run outing last Thursday against Baltimore.
"It didn't start out looking real great," manager Terry Francona said. "Down 8-1's not really the formula. But I don't think we really abandoned our approach."
With four runs in the fourth, three runs in the fifth, and six runs in the sixth inning, the Red Sox stormed back against a cadre of relievers, each of whom left with an inflated ERA and, perhaps, a deflated sense of self. Other than Jay Witasick, who worked the eighth, no Tampa Bay pitcher emerged unscathed. And no Red Sox batter failed to better his average.
"We could have quit and just played the rest of the game, but to see the guys' heart and the way we came back was fun," said Jacoby Ellsbury, who hit his third major league home run to provide the Red Sox' first run of the game, on his 24th birthday.
Not just the offense, though. It was the bullpen as well. Javier Lopez allowed an inherited runner to score, and Eric Gagné gave one up in his return to the mound, but no other runs crossed the plate on the five relievers who followed Snyder. That allowed the offense its chance to shine, and made the run scored against Gagne in the ninth moot.
In coming back to win from a seven-run hole for the first time since Sept. 21, 2000, against Cleveland, the Red Sox had to get contributions up and down the order. Which they did. Dustin Pedroia's home run, one of four solo shots last night (Ortiz hit the other), went up into the Monster seats off reliever Jon Switzer to lead off the sixth inning and tie the game at 9-9.
For the once water-logged house at Fenway, the game was restarted. For a minute or two. Because the deluge continued, even though the skies had cleared. Kevin Youkilis, the last player in the starting lineup to record a hit, smashed his with perfect timing. With the bases loaded in the sixth, Youkilis bashed a triple off the base of the wall by the 379-foot sign, bringing the score to 12-9, the first lead of the game for the Red Sox.
"It was early when they scored," Julio Lugo said. "We knew we had a chance to score. As soon as we scored a couple of runs, we knew we was right back in it. We have a good offensive team. I think the biggest thing about today was we had the heart."
With the number of games left rapidly shrinking, the importance of each is magnified. And after today's rubber game is in the books, a certain rival returns to town.
"They've been playing good," Ortiz said of the Yankees. "You don't want to face a situation where you are three games away or anything like that. You want to keep on winning. Those guys, see how they've been hitting, how they've been playing. It's good to keep the distance between us."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org