|2014 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round||NBA First Round Predictions||Datsyuk’s Late Heroics Topple Bruins in Game 1||Celtics Go 1-1 in Draft Order Tiebreakers|
Mired in a slow start that has him hitting just .249/.319/.338 two months into the season, Jacoby Ellsbury sure picked a fine time to deliver a key hit.
Ellsbury delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning to deliver an epic 6-5 Boston Red Sox comeback, walk-off win over the Cleveland Indians. After dropping the first game of the series, the Red Sox won out to take take three of four at home.
Felix Doubront had a slightly better start for the Red Sox, giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out eight, but did allow two home runs to Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis. The Red Sox offense would not be fazed, however, despite being down 5-1 entering the bottom of the eighth inning.
Having scored just one run on a third inning RBI single by Daniel Nava, the Red Sox found themselves down four runs entering the eighth. Stephen Drew led off with a triple to right when Indians right fielder Drew Stubbs took a bad angle to the ball, then scored on a sacrifice fly by recent call-up Jose Iglesias.
Needing three runs to tie entering the ninth inning, the Red Sox would take two outs to get within one. Dustin Pedroia led off with a walk on a borderline 3-2 pitch, and David Ortiz scorched a double to center field on another ball that froze an Indians outfielder (center fielder Michael Bourn, in this instance). Mike Napoli grounded out to the shortstop to make it 5-3, and after Ortiz swiped his second steal of third in the series (something he had never EVER done in his career), Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded out to first to bring the Red Sox within one. Only, now they had two out and nobody on.
Jonny Gomes, who pinch hit for left fielder Mike Carp earlier in the contest, quickly changed that by drawing a walk. Drew singled to right to extend the game with runners on first and third, bringing the light-hitting Iglesias (a career .244/.296/.292 hitter at AAA) to the plate. Somehow, the kid continues to produce at the major league level against all odds, working a hard-fought walk on another close 3-2 pitch to load the bases.
That brought up Ellsbury, who has struggled atop the Red Sox lineup. Talk has swirled lately of dropping him down in the order to get him going, much like Terry Francona did – successfully, mind you – earlier in Ellsbury’s career. Turns out, he was hitting in the perfect spot today, drilling a 2-1 sinker into the gap in left-center to bring his teammates streaming onto the field to mob him.
Chris Perez, who left with an injury prior to Ellsbury’s at-bat, was charged with the loss, costing Indians starter Corey Kluber the decision in an impressive 10-strikeout performance. Craig Breslow earned the win instead, giving up one run in 1.2 innings.
The Red Sox will look to continue their three game winning streak with a home-and-home against the Philadelphia Phillies – two in Boston, followed by two at Citizens Bank Park. This will be the second straight series marking the return of a Red Sox legend to Fenway Park, as Jonathan Papelbon comes to town (probably river dancing his way there).
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz has been scratched from his Monday start due to what is described as “discomfort” in his right collarbone – apparently from falling asleep with his daughter the wrong way. The enigmatic Alfredo Aceves will take the mound instead opposite the Phillies’ Tyler Cloyd. First pitch is at 7:10 PM.