Through 14 at-bats the Red Sox were 3-17 with runners in scoring position. That’s becoming a disturbing trend in 2014 as the Sox boast a .194 average as a team with men in scoring position. Lack of success in the clutch explains the team’s 47 runs scored heading into tonight’s game, good for 24th in MLB.
Pedroia and the Red Sox wasted no time facing Chicago’s starter John Danks, smoking an inside fastball down the left field line for a leadoff double - an encouraging sign after the wrist scare. Xander Bogaerts singled up the middle for his 1st RBI on the year, and remarkably the first Red Sox RBI in a first inning of 2014. Ortiz singled the other way to make it three consecutive hits, but Danks extinguished the rally retiring the next three Sox batters in order. Danks missed his spots early and often, but ironed out his location issues to escape the inning with limited damage.
The home first turned out to be a Bad News Bears type of inning for the visiting Red Sox. Buchholz hit the leadoff man Adam Eaton with two strikes, Nava couldn’t handle a pick-off throw, and Ryan Roberts’ errant throw led to a run without the benefit of a hit. The grounder to Roberts easily would have retired the side, but the miscue extended the inning. White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing did Boston a favor, giving the stop sign to Jose Abreu despite a single with 2 outs, preventing a second Chicago run.
Both starters went deep in the count to most hitters in the early going, driving up the pitch count and putting fielders to sleep. Danks threw 66 pitches in his first three innings of work, with 29 of those offerings in the third alone. The White Sox starter left after 6 innings of 1-run baseball. Danks fired 111 pitches, allowed three hits, walked four, and struck out three. He settled in after a rocky start and turned in a quality outing.
Clay Buchholz’ success on the mound did not come without hard work. Buchholz pressed through various deep counts, stressful situations, and his defense let him down early on. Clay looked stronger with each inning on the mound after the defensive meltdown in the first. Marcus Semien singled with 2 outs in the 2nd, then Buchholz set down 12 of the next 14 White Sox batters.
In the 6th inning, Alejandro De Aza tapped the ball back to Buchholz, who went for the sure out at first moving Adam Dunn into scoring position. Not long after Buchholz’ interesting play, Clay uncorked a wild pitch allowing Dunn to reach third. Alexei Ramirez took advantage of the situation and launched a 2-1 fastball into the bleachers in left for a 3-1 White Sox lead. I’m sure Hawk Harrelson was excited when that ball left the yard. Ramirez was hitless on the night until the home run extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
Clay Buchholz pitched well throughout the middle innings, but his offense failed to support him. Clay gave up 2 earned runs on 6 hits in 6 innings, walked 2 and struck out 6. Another tough-luck outing for a Red Sox pitcher, as Buchholz pitched well enough for a win.
In the top of the eighth, lefty Scott Downs threw a 6-pitch walk to the only man he faced, David Ortiz, and Jonny Gomes drew a walk from Jake Petricka. Donnie Veal replaced Petricka, and Veal induced a ground out by Sizemore to put runners on the corners with 1 out. A.J. Pierzynski came through with a sac-fly to plate Ortiz and pull his team within a run at 3-2.
As if White Sox relievers love watching batters jog to first base, Cleto walked Pedroia and Bogaerts to lead off the ninth. He recorded just 1 out and threw 3 free passes. With 1 out Jonny Gomes reached on an infield hit - the second of the game for Boston - and the first hit of any variety since way back in the first inning. Sizemore finally made the White Sox pay for ball four with a sac-fly to left to bring home the tying run in Pedroia.
Both starters were long gone before any decision, so it came down to the bullpens. The Red Sox bullpen was far more effective than the home ‘pen, as the visiting relievers gave up one run in 8 innings with 9 strikeouts, 4 hits, and one free pass. The White Sox relievers combined for a pathetic 11 walks in 8 innings, 5 runs, and 3 hits.
In the 11th inning, Pedroia drew yet another walk in a game that seemed like no one wanted to win. Bogaerts took a pitch off the left leg to get on base the hard way, his second hit by pitch of the game. With men at the corners and 1 out, Jonny Gomes delivered a sac fly to left to score Pedroia and give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.
Edward Mujica came in to slam the door and immediately walked leadoff batter Jordan Danks. But with 2 outs Danks scored on a 2-strike single up the middle by Tyler Flowers to tie it once again at 4. That’s the second blown save for Mujica this season.
Finally in the 14th, the Sox put together a 2-out rally off position player Leury Garcia on the mound. Garcia walked Nava and Jonathan Herrera back-to-back to bring Jackie Bradley Jr. up to the plate. On a full-count, Bradley Jr. delivered the clutch hit of the night, scoring Nava and Herrera on a 2-out double to right for a 6-4 Red Sox lead. The double in the 14th was Bradley’s only hit, though quality trumps quantity in this case.
Burke Badenhop came in for the final out after Chris Capuano went 2.2 innings striking out 3. Capuano earned his first win in a Red Sox uniform. Mujica was the only blemish for the Red Sox bullpen over 8 innings.
In the final game of the series, Jon Lester and the Red Sox will face White Sox ace Chris Sale. Both bullpens are gassed, so managers Ventura and Farrell need innings from their workhorses tonight. Lester is coming off a strong performance in New York, and he looks to continue that momentum tonight at 8:10pm.