ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Perhaps it’s time to stop trying to figure out how the Red Sox are doing this. Because you won’t have much luck.
Mike Carp’s game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning Wednesday night was the seventh pinch-hit home run of the season for the Sox. No other American League team has more than four. The Sox are tied with the Nationals for the most in baseball.
Carp was designated for assignment just before spring training by the Seattle Mariners, the team with the third-worst offense in the American League. The Red Sox picked him up for what amounts to loose change.
In 211 plate appearances, Carp is hitting .314 with a .938 OPS. He has nine home runs and 37 RBIs. Of his 59 hits, 27 have been for extra bases. Few players have done more with their opportunities than Carp has.
Wednesday was Carp’s crowning moment.
“To sit there for nearly four hours and come up and swing at the first pitch you see for a grand slam is pretty remarkable,” John Farrell said.
When the Rays called in righthander Roberto Hernandez with two on, Farrell told Carp to get ready to pinch hit for Johnny Gomes, who was 0 for 8 in his career against Hernandez.
Hernandez walked Mike Napoli to load the bases. Carp came up, swung at the first pitch he saw and drilled it out to center.
“Get a run in,” Carp said. “I was looking for something out over the plate that I could put a good swing on and he hung a slider. I ended up doing a lot of more than I expected to do with it.”
A few other notes:
• The Red Sox have won 22 times in their final at-bat. “It’s a never-say-die attitude,” Carp said. “We play until the last out. It has been that way all season.”
• Because the Rays had the top of their order coming up in the ninth, Farrell said he went to closer Koji Uehara. He also had a feeling the Sox could scratch across a run in the next inning. Little did he guess it would be four.
Uehara’s statistics seem like Bernard Malamud fiction at this point. He has retired 34 in a row. The last runner to reach base on Uehara was Lyle Overbay on Aug. 17. In his last 26 appearances, Uehara has thrown 29 1/3 scoreless innings and put seven runners on base. Opponents are 6 for 94 against him in those 29 1/3 innings.
Uehara’s streak of batters retired is the longest in team history. Ellis Kinder had the old record of 32 in 1952. His scoreless innings streak is the longest for a Sox reliever since Dick Radatz went 33 innings in 1963. The 26 consecutive appearances without a run are a team record. Daniel Bard had the old record of 25 in 2011.
“We don’t talk about it what he’s doing,” John McDonald said. “We just watch.”
• The Rays have dropped 13 of 17, a collapse that now has them one game ahead of the Yankees. The Indians and Orioles are 1.5 behind and the Royals are two out. The Rangers are only percentage points ahead of the Rays.
If the Red Sox finish with the top record in the American League, they’ll get the wild card winner. All these teams fighting through a do-or-die September would seem advantageous for the Sox
• The Sox have won nine of their last 12 road games. They are 42-33 on the road.
• The Sox are 8-2 in September. They were 7-19 last season. In 10 games, they scored nearly as many runs this month (75) as they did all of September last season (78).