NEW YORK — Pedro Ciriaco beat the Yankees with a drive to deep center field on Saturday. A day later, a 120-foot bloop was all he needed.
“I guess I got a little bit lucky again,” said Ciriaco, the latest unlikely hero of baseball’s best rivalry after his single in the 10th inning beat the Yankees, 3-2, on Sunday night.
The Red Sox are hoping that two dramatic late-inning victories against the Yankees are what finally propels them into the thick of the playoff chase after a season of frustration.
“We basically have two months of playoff baseball left,” Adrian Gonzalez said. “We’re going to try to make it happen that way. Guys are stepping in and stepping up. It’s awesome.”
It was an unusual game-winning rally for the Sox against David Robertson.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a leadoff walk before Will Middlebrooks squared to bunt. The pitch struck Middlebrooks in the hand then hit umpire Brian O’Nora, knocking him back.
As Middlebrooks went to first, the umpires called him back, saying the pitch hit his bat. Manager Bobby Valentine argued the call and was ejected. Josh Beckett was then ejected from the dugout.
Middlebrooks showed the umpires the seam marks on his hand to no avail.
“I had to re-focus and get back in the at-bat,” Middlebrooks said. “I had been hit, but what are you going to do?”
Middlebrooks, bruise and all, singled to left field. Ryan Sweeney couldn’t get a bunt down but moved the runners over when he grounded to second.
With the infield in, Ciriaco then dropped a softly hit ball onto the grass just beyond first base.
“We’ll take bloops. We need them,” Valentine said.
Ciriaco is 11 of 22 in five games against the Yankees this season with six RBIs. On Saturday, he had an RBI triple in the ninth inning to win the game, the ball eluding Curtis Granderson after he misplayed it.
“I try and have fun every time I come to the plate and make it happen,” Ciriaco said. “We’re happy we got a win. We pitched very good, we played good defense and we scored one more run.”
Alfredo Aceves finished off the Yankees in the bottom of the inning. He had blown the save in the eighth inning. Aceves struck out Raul Ibanez to end the game and pumped his fist in celebration.
A few notes:
• Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Red Sox have indicated a willingness to trade Josh Beckett.
Obviously there are hurdles. Beckett (5-9, 4.57) has not pitched well. He also has 10-5 no-trade rights, meaning he has the right to decline any trade. Finally, he is owed approximately $37.3 million on his contract.
As of 1 a.m., there are no indications the Sox were closing in on any deal. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Sox contacted the Braves and Rangers on Beckett.
• Felix Doubront in three starts against the Yankees this season: 18.2 IP, 12 H, 5 ER. That’s very impressive. Tonight was his first start in the Stadium.
• Ryan Sweeney, who the Red Sox are willing to deal, had a two-run double, a few nice plays in right and moved the runners in the 10th.
• Aceves has blown 5 saves. But his ability to pitch multiple innings (2.2 tonight) was huge for the Sox. That’s somewhat rare for closers.
• The Red Sox grounded into five double plays, their most since Aug. 17, 2005 at Detroit (also five). It’s the most against the Yankees since at least 1940 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
That’s it for tonight. Thanks for reading and all the comments. Much appreciated. Back at it tomorrow. Great to spend the weekend at the Stadium with Dan, Nick and Alex, too. Saw some interesting baseball.