"Now batting for Boston, shortstop Stephen F. Drew."
Expect to be hearing that this weekend over the PA system at Yankee Stadium as the Red Sox and Yankees continue their four-game series in the Bronx.
The Red Sox displayed flashbacks to 1978, 1986, 2003 and 2004 in Thursday night's 9-8 win over the Yankees. In the end, it was a Duck Boater. The Red Sox pulled off an improvised re-enactment of their ninth-inning comeback against Mariano Rivera in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.
This time Mike Napoli starred as Kevin Millar. Instead of drawing a walk, Napoli singled to center. Pinch-runner Quintin Berry played the role of Dave Roberts. And Drew flawlessly performed his best as Bill Mueller, except his back-breaking, game-tying, two-out basehit, was gently roped into right field instead of drilled up the middle.
It was the 15th blown save Rivera has had against the Red Sox in his stellar career, by far the most against any club. Of course, he's saved plenty of games pitching against Boston, but the Sandman may have to admit on the day he enters Cooperstown that indeed, the "Red Sox are my daddy."
The Red Sox heroics in the ninth and Jacoby Ellsbury's speed in the 10th erased a six-run seventh inning from the Yankees. Red Sox starter Jake Peavy was plenty peeved after being taken out in the seventh after the first two runners reached base. He had thrown 117 pitches, but certainly appeared like he had another 117 in the tank. He was shown storming out of the dugout toward the clubhouse and looked like he was about to go into full Ortiz mode. No word if any phones were destroyed in the making of his outrage.
There were several historic Red Sox flashbacks manifested during this wild affair. Matt Thornton's disastrous outing in the seventh was the beginning of the end for Boston's 7-2 lead, although Peavy ended up being charged for four runs. Thornton threw 12 pitches and was charged with two earned runs, all the while trying unsuccessfully to contain the spirit of Calvin Schiraldi that seemed to possess and paralyze him before every pitch. It was the dirtiest dozen pitches of the season.
John Farrell, whose decision to remove Peavy may have blown up the message boards and phone lines today had Boston lost, showed some flashes of Grady Little by putting on a hard shift against Alfonso Soriano, who promptly singled on an outside fastball that would have otherwise been an inning-ending double-play. Instead, Brett Gardner scored and the Yankees were half-way to their six-run inning that almost doomed the Red Sox.
There would be no letdown or letting up Thursday. While Boston has had issues with front-line starters this season, the Red Sox somehow have managed to win 85 games, three straight against the Tigers and Yankees and score 29 runs in two games facing a pair of starting pitchers who had a combined record of 27-5 before the week started.
With 20 games left in the season, Boston's magic number now to clinch a playoff spot is . . . 13.
When did that happen? Must have happened between the Stanley Cup playoffs and Tim Tebow's departure from the Patriots.
Last season, the only numbers that were counted down in September were the days until Bobby Valentine was going to be fired. Magic numbers of a different sort.
The magic number to win the division was at 17 after the game, pending Tampa Bay's outcome in Anaheim. Since the Red Sox finished about 623 games out last season, pulled off the biggest September collapse in baseball history the year before, haven't made the playoffs since 2009 and haven't won a playoff game since Jason Varitek's home run beat the Rays in Game 6 of the 2008 ALCS, we'll work on the lowest magic number possible for now.
The Red Sox, despite the questionable managerial moves and the bullpen's capitulation in the seventh inning, were able to win because that same bullpen shut down the Yankees over their final three at bats. Soriano gave the Red Sox a boost when tried to steal third in the ninth inning, getting caught in a run down after he should have been thrown out trying to steal second.
To absolutely no one's surprise, there was no retaliation for Ryan Dempster's plunking/war crime committed against Alex Rodriguez. The Red Sox are having a "Say Yes To The Dress" bridal exhibition at Fenway on Sunday. I'm surprised A-Rod's never guest-starred on the show.
The winning run came off Joba Chamberlain, who is what Roger Clemens would have been without jogging, talent or PEDs. Joe West was smiling on the Red Sox, giving Shane Victorino life after a "could have gone either way" checked swing against Chamberlain that should have been strike three. But as they have so many times this season, the Red Sox and Victorino turned that sudden life into sudden death for their opponents. The Flyin' Hawaiian's line-drive single scored the Flyin' Ellsbury from second base, which he had swiped for his 52nd theft of the season.
The Red Sox are a team of emerging characters and character. There are still three games left in the Bronx this weekend, which in this Looking Glass World of the 2013 Red Sox means three more chances to bury the Yankees once and for all this weekend.
Keep waiting people, but this isn't 2011. And it ain't coming back. There will be no Boston Massacre, or Boston Massacre II or III this year, either.
The Red Sox continue to demonstrate grit and baseballs that have not been seen in by baseball fans in New England since 2008.
They are a franchise buried in caveats and, save for the 2004-07 Renaissance, were always trapped by their history, especially when it came to crunch time. One way or another, the Yankees would get them. Now, in the wake to the reversion to Our Father's [or Grandfather's] Red Sox, fans and media alike are weary of a second cleat dropping.
Thursday night's game was destined to be the gate back to 2011, or maybe even back to 1978. But clutch moments delivered by unheralded players like Drew and Berry - sounds like an ice cream shoppe in Faneuil Hall - wouldn't allow that to happen. And when it was Koji Uehara time, it was a Uehorror Show for the Yankees, especially after his 12-pitch strikeout of Lyle Overbay, who had been cut by the Red Sox after spring training.
Red Sox fans may never again be the optimistic, giddy Pink Hatted lot that packed Fenway and sang "Sweet Caroline" with Ben Wrightman and Lindsey Meeks. Thank goodness. On the other hand, waiting for Doomsday to arrive in September of 2013 might be a fruitless task, unless you happen to be in New York, Baltimore or St. Petersburg.
As long as Matt Thornton isn't pitching for the Red Sox.
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