NEW YORK — Every team in every sport likes to say they never quit. But over 162 baseball games, teams quit all the time.The schedule dictates that even a terrific team is going to lose 65 or so games. There are plenty of nights when it’s just not happening.
So when the Red Sox fell behind the Yankees 8-3 on Friday night, there was hardly any shock. The first-place Sox have been on a good roll lately and the Yankees are fighting for their postseason lives.
That’s what made the Red Sox winning 12-8 so shocking. Nine unanswered runs? That’s just not supposed to happen.
Mike Napoli’s grand slam in the seventh inning tied the game. Then Shane Victorino belted a two-run homer in the eighth off Preston Claiborne, part of a four-run inning.
At 86-57, the Sox have the most wins in baseball. They have 17 more victories than last season with 19 games left to play.
A few notes:
• Victorino has 14 home runs, nine since Aug. 1. Five have come batting righthanded against a righthanded pitcher. He is hitting .382 in his last 19 games with 19 RBIs.
A switch hitter, Victorino has been batting almost exclusively righthanded for the last five weeks to protect a sore left hamstring. Somehow that transformed him into a power hitter.
“Just doing an outstanding job,” manager John Farrell said.
Victorino won Thursday’s game with an RBI single. On Friday, as was the case Thursday, Victorino refused comment after the game.
• It was the 19th home run of the season for Napoli, his fourth in 11 games and sixth career grand slam. Three of the slams have come this season. The single-season franchise record is four slams by Babe Ruth in 1919.
“That’s pretty cool. Guys seem to be on base all the time when I’m up. I’ve had a lot of opportunities,” Napoli said. “Try to drive the ball somewhere and good things are happening.”
Napoli was 3 for 3 with two walks. He has reached safely in eight straight plate appearances.
• At 8-8, it was a new game. Rookie Brandon Workman retired the Yankees in order in the bottom of the inning. He’s turning himself into a viable late-inning arm.
• Closer Koji Uehara got the final three outs despite the four-run lead. Uehara has retired 27 consecutive batters, a perfect game spread over nine outings. He has not allowed a base runner since Aug. 17.
Through an interpreter, Uehara said he didn’t consider that a special accomplishment. But he acknowledged this is perhaps the best stretch of his career since he came to the majors from Japan.
Opponents are 6 of their last 85 against Uehara.
• Red Sox starter Felix Doubront lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up six runs on three hits and six walks. He has a 6.60 earned run average in his last six starts and could be pitching himself out of the postseason rotation.
“We’ve got some things we’ve got to work through and see what’s best for us and Felix as well,” Farrell said.
• Will Middlebrooks homered to left field in the fifth inning. It was his third home run in as many games and his fifth in 24 games since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket.