Every swing Mike Napoli took was huge. The one that finally connected gave the Sox a 8-7 walk of win in their series finale with the Yankees.
Napoli launched a solo shot to straight away center field to give him two for the night and give the Sox their ninth walkoff win of the season.
The homer, Napoli’s second career walkoff, capped a 2-for-6, four-RBI day for the slugging first baseman. He came to the late in the eight with the bases loaded and a chance to give the Sox the lead with closer Koji Uehara warming up for the ninth, but grounded into an inning-ending double play.
With starter Ryan Demspter going just 5.1 innings, the=Sox bullpen combined to throw 4.2 innings of two-run ball. Pedro Beato pitched a scoreless 11th to earn the win, his first of the season.
With the win, the Sox lead in the AL East remains at 1.5 games over the Tampa Bay Rays, who come to Fenway Monday.
End of the 10th, Red Sox 7, Yankees 7:In a tight, tense extra-innings battle, Shawn Kelley’s been lights out. He struck out the side, making it six straight batters he’s sat down in two innings of work with five straight strikeouts.
He hasn’t given up a run since June 15. In his past 12 appearances, he’s thrown 10.1, fanning 16.
End of the ninth, Red Sox 7, Yankees 7: Shawn Kelley came in and quickly sawed through the Sox’s 6-7-8 hitters to send the game to extra innings.
He got Jonny Gomes to pop up behind the plate, fanned Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a slider on a full count and caught Stephen Drew staring at a 2-and-2 fastball.
Drake Britton will pitch the 10th for the Sox, who are 5-4 in extra inning games (2-1 in extras at home), while the Yankees are 2-3.
End of the eighth, Red Sox 7, Yankees 7:Bases loaded. One out. Mike Napoli at the plate with one homer already tonight.
It was the kind of situation Napoli had feasted on all season. He was 7 for 12 with two homers and 20 RBIs with the bases loaded.
He just happened to be facing a pitcher that thrived just as much in with the bases jammed. In the last 22 times he faced batters with the bases loaded, Robertson had given up just one hit.
Napoli didn’t fare any better.
He fell behind 1-and-2 to David Robertson, who pumped him full of cutters, and ultimately reached for a pitch high out of the zone and chopped it to Eduardo Nunez at shortstop for a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play that killed the Sox’s shot at taking the lead with close Koji Uehara coming on to pitch in the ninth.
End of the seventh, Red Sox 7, Yankees 7:A leadoff walk by Vernon Wells, a one-out single by Eduardo Nunez set the stage for a two-run inning that helped the Yankees knot things up.
The inning turned on a disastrous throwing error by Jose Iglesias. Chris Stewart dropped a bunt down, Iglesias charged in to grab it, but his throw whizzed by first base and into the photographer’s well next to the Red Sox’s dugout.
Iglesias came into the game with just three errors on 166 chances, but the wild throw allowed Wells to score and Nunez to move to third, where all he needed was a Luis Cruz ground ball to short to stroll home as the tying run.
The most dramatic moment of the inning was easily the 15-pitch walk that Brett Gardner work out of Junichi Tazawa. It was so grueling that Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves paid him a visit at the mound after it was over.
The next at-bat wasn’t nearly as stressful. Tazawa got Ichiro Suzuki to bounce one back to the mound on three pitches. But it seemed clear that his work for the night was done.
End of the sixth, Red Sox 7, Yankees 5: Brett Gardner has feasted on Red Sox pitching this series. With three hits today, he has six total today. He and Robinson Cano both came up with RBI singles in the sixth to help the Yankees eat into the Sox’s lead.
Gardner’s liner to right knocked Sox starter Ryan Dempster out of the game after 5.1 innings (He’s still never gone longer than 6.1 against the Yankees. He left after walking as many Yankees as he struck out (4). He gave up five runs, two of which were unearned coming in that sloppy first inning.
CC Sabathia didn’t last much longer. After walking Jacoby Ellsbury on four pitches, he got the hook. His 33d birthday was a rough one. The seven runs he gave up matched a season high and the two homers he gave up made it six straight starts in which he’s been taken deep.
End of the fifth, Red Sox 7, Yankees 3: Add another homer CC Sabathia’s tab this season. Jonny Gomes tagged his 3-and-2 change up, shipping it over the Monster for a solo shot to lead off the inning.
It was Gomes’ eight homer of the season and his fifth off left-handed pitching. It was also his fifth home run in is past 19 games after hitting just three in his first 50.
End of the fourth, Red Sox 6, Yankees 3: Jose Iglesias is turning the infield hit into its own little art form.
After Stephen Drew took one off the hand to lead off the inning, Iglesias legged out a bunt single for his 21st infield hit of the season. Jacoby Ellsbury followed up with a liner to right to load the bases with no outs.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia got a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild, but it did nothing to keep the inning from getting worse. Shane Victorino shot a ground ball to left field that scored Drew and Iglesias and gave the Sox a three-run lead.
As for Iglesias, he’s currently in a race for the team lead with Dustin Pedroia, who has 19 so far this year and led the team with 24 last season.
If you’re into minutia: Going back to 1987, which is as far back as Stats Inc. can track the numbers for infield hits, no ones hit more than the Dodger’s Brett Butler, who legged out 72 in 1997. The most infield hits by an American League hitter since 1987 is 63 by Ichiro Suzki in 2001.
End of the third, Red Sox 4, Yankees 3: There was a point when Mike Napoli was starving for extra-base hits. But quietly, he’s got seven in his past 12 games.
His most recent one was a three-run shot that went speeding over the Monster to give lift the Sox out of an early hole. The shot was so much of a no-doubter that Yankees left fielder Vernon Wells didn’t even bother moving.
The homer gave Napoli 12 for the season and upped his RBI total to 61. CC Sabathia gave up his 13th homer his past 11 starts, and watched a nice three-run cushion go up in smoke after a four run inning that had trouble written all over it after he gave up a leadoff double to Jacoby Ellsbury and an RBI single to Dustin Pedroia two batters later.
End of the second, Yankees 3, Red Sox 0: The Yankees were able to turn Chris Stewart’s leadoff single into another run. Ground balls by Luis Cruz and Brett Garnder moved Stewart into scoring position. Then, after Ryan Dempster pegged Ichiro Suzuki with a 3-and-2 fastball, Robinson Can cashed in with a two-out single up the middle.
Obviously, Dempster’s struggled so far. He’s thrown almost as many balls (22) as strikes (28). He kept a dubious streak alive. He had given up at least three runs in all six of his career starts against the Yankees. However, another number is still out there. He’s never gone more than 6.1 innings against the Yankees.
End of the first, Yankees 2, Red Sox 0: The Sox paid for a couple of ugly throwing errors.
Sniffing a double play when Ichiro Suzuki bounced on back to the mound, Ryan Dempster whipped around and fired to second trying to cut down Brett Gardner. His throw, however sailed way left of the bag and into center field, making if first and third.
The next at-bat, with Robinson Cano at the plate, Suzuki decided to test Jarrod Saltalamacchia and make a break for second. Saltalamacchia came up gunning, but his throw skipped into center field, and Gardner scored easily from third.
Coming in, Saltalamcchia had thrown out 19 percent of runners trying to steal on him. But he had also been charged with five errors. This was his second of the series.
Pregame: The Red Sox’s lead in the AL East got slimmer with the Tampa Bay Rays’ 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, which makes this series finale with the Yankees a little more interesting with the Ray coming in on Monday.
Tampa has won 17 of 19 and Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged that they can hear the Rays’ footsteps. But he also said they clearly can’t overlook tonights game.
With Jon Lester getting two days to rest, Ryan Dempster will take the mound for the Sox. Weirdly, Dempster is 0-5 in six career starts against the Yankees. They’re one of just two major league teams he hasn’t notched a win against in his career.
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