The Boston Red Sox were on the verge of two straight sweeps and six more losses in a row before David "Big Papi" Ortiz let Sox fans exhale when he absolutely lost a Joba Chamberlain pitch deep into the right field stands for his 14th long ball of the year.
Boston trailed 3-2 coming into the ninth with the top of the order due up. The team had gone 1-11 with runners in scoring position to this point. The Tigers usual closer, Joe Nathan, was unavailable for this game because he threw 32 pitches in a rocky outing on Saturday as he tried to hold an 8-4 lead in the ninth. As a result, Chamberlain became the de facto closer.
Brock Holt, already with three hits (a triple and two singles) led the inning off with yet another single up the middle to start Boston's rally. Xander Bogaerts looked foolish on multiple Chamberlain sliders and quietly took a seat after striking on a bad looking swing. Dustin Pedroia drew a walk on a full count pitch in a very good at bat where he fought off tough sliders and watched three of them for balls. This brought up Ortiz and he took care of the rest:
John Lackey was the starter in this one and he pitched just long enough to pick up the victory. He went 8 innings, giving up seven hits, three runs (two earned), while striking out five to only one walk. He threw the same amount of pitches in 8 innings that Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez threw in 6 innings. Working Sanchez hard was key for the Red Sox early on.
Pitch Discrepancy Early On
In the first inning, the Red Sox went 1-2-3 with a groundout and two strikeouts, but Holt, Bogaerts and Pedroia combined to make Sanchez throw 20 pitches without even giving up a hit or a walk.
After two innings, neither team had collected a hit yet, but Sanchez had 43 pitches to Lackey's 22.
Taking it even further, Sanchez threw 101 pitches through 5 innings compared to Lackey's 60.
Runs In The Third
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt each hit singles in the third inning and after a Bogaerts walk, Pedroia came up with the bases loaded looking to get the Sox on the board first. He hit a sacrifice fly to center field, plenty deep enough to score JBJ and the score was 1-0 Sox. Ortiz struck out to end the inning, but the Sox will do anything for runs at this point with their poor offense.
In the bottom of the third, Austin Jackson picked up Detroit's first base hit off Lackey. He stole second and two batters later, Eugenio Suarez knocked him home on a single. Suarez's first hit of his career on Saturday was a home run, and he was doing more damage against the Sox on Sunday as well. Lackey finished the inning without further runs and the score was tied at one after three.
After an A.J. Pierzynski double and Daniel Nava single, the Sox appeared to be in business in the fourth inning with only one out. Unfortunately, Stephen Drew and Bradley Jr. each struck out against Sanchez and the story of the season for Boston - leaving runners on base - held true again as the bottom of the order failed to produce again.
The Tigers scored another run in the fourth on a Miguel Cabrera double and Victor Martinez RBI single and after the strand in the top half of the inning, Boston was on the wrong side of the score again.
Holt singled again in the fifth and went to second on a wild pitch, but was unable to be pushed across by Bogaerts, Pedroia or Ortiz, another strand for the BoSox.
More Back and Forth
Remember when I talked about how Sanchez had 101 pitches through five innings? Well he came out for the sixth and two pitches into the inning, Mike Napoli took him deep to the opposite field for his sixth homer of the season. This deep shot tied the game at two. Napoli had just returned from the DL Sunday after missing 14 games due to a dislocated finger. His bat was much needed for Boston, as he went 3-for-4 in his return to action.
Miguel Cabrera left the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with left hamstring tightness. He is day-to-day with the injury and was replaced by Don Kelly. Detroit was unable to score after his single in that inning and a Martinez walk.
But Boston couldn't hold Detroit down for too long while they stranded more runners. Holt led off the seventh with a triple, but two pitching changes later and a deep fly out for Ortiz against lefty Phil Coke, the inning was over with no runs for Boston. Ortiz was 2-for-18 against Coke entering the at-bat.
Detroit took advantage of a big Bogaerts error in the bottom half of the seventh and Suarez hurt the Sox AGAIN with another RBI single to give the Tigers a big 3-2 lead with just two innings left. A double play for Boston ensured that the game would stay a one-run contest.
After Ortiz Homer, Koji Shuts The Door
The game would stay 3-2 until Ortiz hit his big dinger and it was up to unstoppable closer Koji Uehara to close out the ballgame. Apparently Detroit fans didn't have much faith in their team against Koji as hordes of fans flooded out of Comerica Park the second Ortiz connected.
Well, they were right. Uehara got Torii Hunter to fly out to center field before it turned into the Bogaerts show. Bogaerts made a real nice diving stab on a Nick Castellanos grounder for the second out. He also caught the final out on a screaming line drive to third off the bat of Jackson. That secured the 28th win for Boston, and who knows? Another winning streak ready to start? We'll find out!
NotesOrtiz's home run in the ninth was his 19th career jack at Comerica Park which is the most all-time for a visiting player in that ballpark. He also has 25 go-ahead homers in the eighth inning or later in his career. Clutch? I think so! In addition to Holt's four hits, he also made a great catch in left as he stretched out and slammed into the wall, saving a run. This is Holt's second four hit game in a week. He also has a 8-game hitting streak. With the win, Lackey improves to 7-4 with a 3.18 ERA. Uehara now has 12 saves and a 0.68 ERA this season. This is Boston's first win against Detroit since Game 6 of the 2013 ALCS. Boston stands at 1-5 on the 9-game road trip and will continue against the Baltimore Orioles Monday night with Jake Peavy (1-3) getting the nod.