|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
Down 5-3 in the ninth inning and armed with a 2-7 record in September, the reeling Red Sox were in desperate need of a comeback.
The Red Sox got exactly what they needed when Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury each delivered solo home runs off Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth to tie the game 5-5. After Dustin Pedroia doubled and Adrian Gonzalez walked, David Ortiz grounded into a critical, rally-killing double play to end the 9th.
Jonathan Papelbon was absolutely dominant in the bottom half of the 9th, and when the Sox failed to score in the 10th, he pitched another perfect inning of relief in the bottom of the 10th. He did not come out for the 11th inning…
After the Red Sox failed to score in the top of the 11th, Terry Francona called upon Daniel Bard, who subsequently allowed a leadoff triple to Desmond Jennings on a ball that barely fell between Ellsbury and Darnell McDonald. After BJ Upton grounded out, Evan Longoria laced a game-winning walkoff single to center field to give the Rays a 6-5 win and bring them within 4.5 games of the Red Sox for the Wild Card lead.
Rookie Kyle Weiland started for the Red Sox and allowed three runs in 4.0 innings. Alfredo Aceves pitched the next 4.0 innings and allowed two runs on three hits. Aceves was on the hook for the loss until the Red Sox bailed him out in the ninth.
Ellsbury has come up big all season, and did so again Saturday night. Down by one run in the 9th, Ellsbury hit a no-doubt home run to right field to tie the game. He now has 26 (!!) home runs this season.
It’s hard to totally blame Bard, but he did allow Jennings’ triple and Longoria’s single to take his seventh loss this season.
W: Brandon Gomes (2-1)
L: Daniel Bard (2-7)