While much of this homestand and season has been reminiscent of their dreadful 2012 season, the Red Sox evoked memories of 2013, when late-game dramatics were their hallmark on the way to the World Series, as they walked off with a 5-4 win in the bottom of the ninth over the White Sox at Fenway Park. The win snapped their four-game losing streak.
After scoring three runs in the eighth, the Sox tied the game with two outs in the ninth when pinch-hitter Daniel Nava’s double scored Mookie Betts, who was hit by a Javy Geurra pitch. Brock Holt’s first career walk-off hit scored Nava for the win.
The Sox, starting a lineup with five rookies for the first time since Aug. 16, 1987, were stymied for most of the game by Chicago ace Chris Sale. He went 7 2/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits with no walks, six strikeouts, and a hit batter. Lowering his ERA from 2.16 to 2.08, taking a no-decision.
Guerra took the loss, while Koji Uehara got the win with a scoreless ninth.
The Sox finally broke through against Sale with a run in the eighth. Mookie Betts led off with a rare infield double, beating out in infield grounder and taking second without breaking stride when no one covered the base. He went to third on Christian Vazquez’s groundout out to second baseman Gordon Beckham, ending Sale’s outing.
Jake Petricka entered, giving up a first-pitch single to Dustin Pedroia to score Betts. David Ortiz’s double scored Pedroia before Mike Napoli walked. Jonny Gomes’ double to left scored Ortiz, putting runners on second and third, ending Petricka’s outing. Right-hander Javy Guerra entered to face Mike Carp, pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, getting Carp to ground out to end the inning.
Righthander Rubby De La Rosa, called up to make a spot start took a no-decision, while his ERA rose from 2.51 to 2.89. He went fiving innings, giving up three runs on six hits, including two home runs, with no walks and three strikeouts.
De La Rosa gave up a run in each of the first two innings – a two-out solo home run to Jose Abreu to straightaway center in the first, and a lead-off home run to Conor Gillaspie (his second in as many nights) leading off the second to almost the same spot.
The White Sox got another run in the fourth when Gillaspie hit a one-out double, scoring when Dayan Viciedo reached on first baseman Mike Napoli’s error. But, Viciedo was thrown out on the play, trying to take second. After Alejandro De Aza tripled, when left fielder Jonny Gomes lost the ball against the sky, Tyler Flowers grounded out to end the inning.
The White Sox added another run in the seventh with three hits off Edward Mujica.
The loss snapped the Sox losing streak, improving them to 2-7 on the 10-game homestand that concludes on Thursday afternoon.
MVP: Mookie Betts
Betts went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored, for his first major league multi-hit game. His 11-pitch at-bat against Sale in the fifth ended with his first major league double. He added to that in the eighth with a rare infield double, and scoring the first run in the three-run inning. He also scored the game-tying run in the ninth, when he was hit by a Guerra pitch with one out, scoring on Daniel Nava’s pinch-hit double.
GOAT: Robin Ventura
The White Sox manager decision to pull his ace Sale with two outs in the eighth inning, Betts on third base, and no runs in, proved to be disastrous. That opened the flood gates for the White Sox’ shaky bullpen. The Chicago pen now has 16 losses, behind only Boston’s 17 in the AL.
Although Betts scored, with the run charged to Sale, it was just the second run he has allowed in two starts, spanning 14 2/3 innings, to the Red Sox this season.
While Jackie Bradley has picked it up at the plate lately, his offense is still lagging. His defense, however, has been superb all season. He made another highlight-reel play in the second inning, sprinting into a full-out layout to corral Tyler Flowers’ bid for extra bases.
QUOTE OF THE GAME:
“One of the best catches of the year, right? Golly.” Daniel Nava on Jackie Bradley’s second-inning gravity-defying catch.
NUMBERS TO KNOW:
The win was the Sox’ seventh in walk-off fashion this season. Both of the Sox wins on this homestand have been by walk-offs, along with their win over the Orioles in the first game of the July 5 doubleheader…They Sox improved to 5-38 when trailing after seven innings. Of their last 24 games, 14 have been decided by one run, with the Sox going 8-6 in those games…Jose Abreu’s first-inning solo homer snapped Rubby De La Rosa’s 14-inning scoreless streak at Fenway…Brock Holt’s RBI single in the ninth was the first walk-off hit of his career, and the first time in his career he drove in a go-ahead run in the eighth inning or later…With his first major league start at shortstop, Holt became just the second Sox player to start at first base, third base, short, left field, center, and right in the same season, along with Jack Rothrock in 1928…Daniel Nave drove in the game-tying run with a pinch-hit double in the ninth, scoring Mookie Betts. Nava is now just 5-for-28 in his career as a pinch-hitter (.179). He is the first Sox batter with a game-tying, pinch-hit RBI in the ninth inning or later since Rocco Baldelli on July 1, 2009, at Baltimore…In his last six games, David Ortiz is 9-for-23 (.391) with five doubles and four RBI…Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in eight of his last 11 games, batting .422, going 19-for-45 with seven RBI…Christian Vazquez became the first Sox player to make his major league debut as a catcher since John Flaherty on April 12, 1992, at Cleveland.
WHAT IT MEANS:
Despite the win, the Sox are just 2-7 on the current 10-game homestand, with the finale Thursday afternoon. With three of the other four teams in the division, including the Rays, losing, the Sox were able to gain a game on the Rays, and are now just a half-game from getting out of the AL East cellar.
Jon Lester (9-7, 2.73) gets the start in Thursday’s homestand finale, opposed by White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.44).
In his last start against the White Sox, April 17 at Chicago, Lester struck out nine in eight innings while giving up one run. The last time he faced the White Sox at Fenway was July 17, 2012, when he gave up six runs in four innings.
In his last five starts, Lester has posted a record of 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA, giving up nine runs, four earned, on 26 hits with six walks and 27 strikeouts over 37 2/3 innings.
The Sox will need their ace at the top of his game to salvage any respectability from the dreadful 10-game homestand, on which they enter the finale 1-8.
Quintana has thrown 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings since the seventh inning of his start on June 24 at Baltimore. In his last three starts he is 2-0 with a 0.42 ERA, allowing one earned run with 25 strikeouts over 21 2/3 innings.
In two career starts against Boston he is 1-0, throwing 14 1/3 scoreless innings, with just eight hits.