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He’s hitting .183 on the season. His slugging percentage (.310) would be good if it were his batting average. The supposed lefty-masher has just six hits (albeit two home runs) in 37 at-bats against left-handed pitching – in other words, half his strikeout total in those plate appearances (12).
Nonetheless, despite going hitless last night, Jonny Gomes still sacrificed (terrible pun intended) personal statistics for the sake of the team on Friday night, driving in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 3-2 victory in 10 innings over the Minnesota Twins. He also scored the game-tying run earlier in the contest to set up his extra inning heroics.
Dustin Pedroia led off the 10th inning against Twins right-handed reliever Josh Roenicke with a base hit through the right side of the infield. After David Ortiz followed with a walk, Will Middlebrooks laid down a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. It was the first sacrifice of his major league career, one night after delivering a bases-clearing, game-winning RBI double in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. With the lefty-swinging Stephen Drew at the plate and one out in the inning, the Twins elected to load the bases by intentionally walking him, leaving open the possibility of a double play and bringing up the right-handed, struggling Gomes.
Gomes didn’t waste the opportunity. He lofted a fly ball to left-center field, where miscommunication between Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks and left fielder Oswaldo Arcia nearly led to a collision between the two. Though they avoided one another, the miscue was enough to cause Hicks – who leads the majors in outfield assists with six – to double pump on his throw home, allowing Pedroia to score easily from third on the offline throw.
With fill-in closer Junichi Tazawa pitching two scoreless innings for the win the day before, Koji Uehara came on in the bottom of the 10th inning to retire the Twins in order for the save. Alex Wilson, called up from the minors earlier this season, recorded his first major league win by getting the final out of the ninth. He came on in relief of Andrew Miller, who allowed no hits or walks with three strikeouts in 1.2 perfect innings.
Clay Buchholz posted another strong start for the Red Sox, pitching 7 innings while only giving up two earned runs. He did have to escape a bases-loaded, one out jam in the fifth inning with the heart of the Twins order coming up, striking out Josh Willingham and retiring Justin Morneau on a fly ball to left to avoid any damage. Buchholz struck out nine on the day, against four hits and three walks. His record still sits at 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA.
For much of the evening, it looked as if Buchholz would be saddled with his first loss of the season, as the Red Sox offense sputtered against Twins starter Vance Worley. After Ortiz drove in Daniel Nava with an RBI single in the first inning, Boston grounded into three double plays, including two of the inning-ending variety by Pedroia. It seemed as if Pedro Florimon’s two-run home run, deposited into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the third, might hold up.
The offense eventually came through in the seventh inning, however. Gomes led off with a walk, and after Mike Carp struck out looking, Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined an opposite field single to right to put runners at first and third. Jacoby Ellsbury, sitting at just .247/.312/.346 on the 2013 season, managed to sneak a base hit off the pitcher’s glove and under the diving shortstop Florimon to drive in Gomes and tie the game at 2-2 with his 14th RBI. After Ellsbury stole his 13th bag on the season, the Red Sox couldn’t capitalize any further, unfortunately, stranding the potential go-ahead runs in scoring position when Nava struck out and Pedroia ended another inning with an easy pop fly to the second baseman.
The Red Sox will face off against the Twins again on Saturday as they look to extend their three-game winning streak behind Ryan Dempster (2-4, 3.75 ERA). He will take the mound opposite Minnesota’s Scott Diamond (3-3, 4.08 ERA). First pitch is at 7:10 PM.