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Criticize the marathon games that come from baseball’s best rivalry if you will, but boy do the Sox and Yankees deliver some cardiac action.
Sunday was pitted as a mismatch between resurgent ace Josh Beckett and the surprising but weaker Freddy Garcia. What it turned into was a late-inning comeback for the regular season ages as Boston shocked New York 3-2 in 10 innings. In the center of the drama was rookie Josh Reddick, who slapped his first career walk-off hit to left field to boot reliever Phil Hughes and the Yankees out of Boston and into second place. The line drive sent the packed Fenway Park into a frenzy, and also clinched the season series against New York for the first time since 2004.
The game-winning RBI for Reddick was set up by David Ortiz. Papi slapped a ground rule double to right with 1 out to get into scoring position and allow Reddick a chance to win the game.
The 10th inning victory came after a blown save from Mariano Rivera in the 9th. The typically dominant closer allowed Marco Scutaro to lace a double off the Green Monster. After moving to third on a Jacoby Ellsbury bunt, Dustin Pedroia sent him home with a sacrifice fly to left. The run denied Rivera his 30th save of the season and handed the legendary closer his fourth blown save of 2011.
As the no. 9 hitter in the Boston lineup on Sunday, Scutaro certainly showed the national audience how deep the Boston lineup goes. The Red Sox’ shortstop salvaged a 2nd inning rally with a 2-out RBI, and was the table setter for Boston’s 9th inning comeback. Heading into his at-bat against Rivera, Scutaro was just 3 for 15, but one of those hits was a walk-off homer. Although his double couldn’t get over the left field wall Sunday, it was enough to save the Red Sox from a disappointing loss. After his 4 for 4 night, Terry Francona will have some decisions to make with Jed Lowrie reportedly returning on Monday.
Long before Reddick was mobbed in short right field by his teammates, Beckett was continuing his dominance of the Evil Empire. Entering the matchup 3-0 against New York this season, Beckett made just one big mistake in 6 innings on Sunday: a solo home run by Eduardo Nunez in the 5th inning. On his 101st and final pitch of the game, Beckett hurled a knee-buckler to Eric Chavez to dart his way out of a 2 out, 2 on jam.
During Rivera’s 9th inning blown save, he made just one mistake. The closer left an inside hanger to Scutaro after aiming for the outside corners on every other pitch. That’s why it came as a surprise that manager Joe Giardi ditched Rivera for Hughes in the 10th. Rivera threw just 9 pitches, and New York is staring down an off day on Monday. The controversial move turned out to be a disastrous one.
Just a quick stat breakdown: Rivera’s blown save was the 14th of his career against Boston, which is by far the most he has had against any team. The next closest team is Baltimore. The Orioles have tagged him for 8 blown saves.
Tags: Baltimore Orioles, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, eduardo nunez, eric chavez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Joe Girardi, Josh Beckett, Josh Reddick, Marco Scutaro, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Red Sox, Terry Francona