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The hangover from Tuesday’s heartbreaking 11-10 loss to the Orioles, in which the Red Sox blew a nine — yes, nine — run lead, lasted about halfway into Wednesday’s thrilling 6-5 comeback victory to take the series and head back to Boston with the gleam of victory upon them.
At the outset, it was clear that the Red Sox had not put the previous day’s loss behind them, as starter Josh Beckett looked uncharacteristically shaky after his last few superb outings. The Boston ace gave up at least a run in each of the first four innings, but pitched brilliantly in the fifth, sixth and seventh — he needed exactly seven pitches to finish off the O’s in the sixth — and kept the game within striking distance. But when would the comatose bats wake up?
Let’s just say, they left it late. In the ninth, Kevin Youkilis made it 5-3 with a two-run blast to right, and pinch-hitter Rocco Baldelli sent the many Boston fans at Camden Yards into raptures with a bases-loaded, two-run single up the middle that tied the game at five.
Two sterling innings of relief by young Daniel Bard — who struck out the side in the eighth with his frankly nasty slider and 98-mile-an-hour heat — and one apiece from Ramon Ramirez and Jonathan Papelbon redeemed the Red Sox bullpen from the ignominy of their performance the previous night. Ramirez was the pitcher of record when Julio Lugo’s single scored Jacoby Ellsbury from third base in the 11th, and Papelbon set a Sox record for saves by picking up the 133rd of his career.
With two outs in the top of the 9th and the bases loaded and your team down by two, how do you think you’d deal with the pressure? If you were Rocco Baldelli, you’d slap a single up the middle, just as coolly as you pleased. Immense, immense at-bat.
There really wasn’t one. Varitek and Bay were underwhelming at the dish — Bay in particular went 0 for 5 — but both redeemed themselves with a clutch walk and excellent defense, respectively. You could point to Beckett, but he pitched very well later in the game to keep it within reach.
“He dominates. He’s, uh, Cinco Ocho.” — Rocco Baldelli, referring to new Red Sox career saves leader Jonathan Papelbon
W: Ramon Ramirez (5-2)
L: Danys Baez (4-2)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (20)
Cripes, that was fun to watch. What better way to come back from a nauseating disaster like yesterday?