The high-hanging slider that Craig Breslow left for Robinson Cano was a mistake he knew he couldn’t afford to make.
Not just to that hitter — one of the most dangerous in the Yankees lineup even though he was just 4 of 18 against Breslow coming in — but in that particular situation.
The bases were loaded, the Sox were trying to protect a two-run lead, and the Yankees — so close to a wild-card spot that they could sniff it — were trying to hijack momentum.
Then Cano sent a line drive into the right-center gap on a zipline.
“It just comes down to executing pitches and when you don’t, you’re going to get beat regardless of the matchup and when you do, you’ve got to be able to take your chances,” Breslow said. “That Cano at-bat is obviously the one I’m the least happy with, falling behind, leaving a ball up over the plate and he’s obviously too good of a player to make those kinds of mistakes with.”
The game-tying double was costly, but with Jarrod Saltalamacchia immediately responding in the bottom of the inning with the grand slam that decided the Red Sox’ 8-4 win, the price wasn’t necessarily steep.
It meant that after going six innings for the 16th time in his past 17 starts, John Lackey would again leave without factoring into the decision.
“John threw the ball too well tonight to not get a win,” Breslow said. “Lackey was throwing the ball really, really well. Probably had something left in the tank and the Cano hit obviously cost him a win, but what’s important is winning the game.”
But the bullpen was able to keep the inning from unavailing completely.
Brandon Workman came in and got Alfonso Soriano to bounce out to third. Then Junichi Tazawa pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.
Workman bounced back after blowing the first save chance of his career on Wednesday.
“The one thing we’ve seen in a quick period of time with Brandon is that he’s got some presence out there,” Farrell said. “He doesn’t get too rattled. He might make a mistake every now and then, but he made a key pitch to Soriano with the go-ahead runs at second and third.”
If he could keep the game tight, Workman knew the offense could come through.
“That’s all I was trying to do was keep the game tied up so we could give our offense a chance,” Workman said. “You’ve seen all year, especially lately, if we keep them in the game, they’re going to find a way at the end of a game. That’s what I was trying to do, make sure that we didn’t give up the lead right there and kept our offense in the game.”