Angels - 001 011 401 - 8 17 1After the Red Sox fell behind 3-0, led 5-3, trailed 7-5, tied the game at 7-7, lost lead at 8-7 and then won 9-8 ... well, Joaquin Andujar was right.
Red Sox - 000 005 022 - 9 13 1
Brian Fuentes began the bottom of the ninth by retiring Jason Bay on a pop up to second and Mike Lowell on a fly to center. Five pitches, two outs. Then he walked David Ortiz on four pitches and Joey Gathright pinch-ran. He fell behind J.D. Drew 2-0 and Drew hit a little flair behind second base. Shortstop Erick Aybar ranged far to his left on the outfield grass and gloved it but had no play. Infield single, potential tying run at second.
Dusty Brown was due up and Jed Lowrie pinch-hit. Since Fuentes is a lefty, Lowrie was batting right-handed, which causes him much less wrist pain than batting lefty. Jed looked at strike one before pulling a pitch hard down the third base line. Chone Figgins dove to his right for it, across the foul line. The ball glanced off his glove and rolled away. The bases were loaded.
Nick Green was sent up to bat for LH Casey Kotchman. Green quickly swung and missed twice and fell behind 0-2 -- one strike away. On the third pitch, he tried to check his swing and it was ruled a ball; it could easily have been a game-ending strike three. Blessed with a second chance, Green fouled off three tough pitches, then took three balls. Fuentes had walked in the tying run! 8-8!
Alex Gonzalez stepped in next. His two-run single in the sixth had broken a 3-3 tie and his eight-pitch walk in the eighth -- his first BB in 101 PA as a Sock -- prolonged the inning so Jacoby Ellsbury could tie the game at 7-7 with a single to right. Seabass went foul, ball, foul, then dumped the ball into short left field. Neither Figgins nor left fielder Juan Rivera could reach it -- it landed near the foul line jut for a single -- and Drew danced home with the winning run.
The East standings stayed the same -- 6.5 GB -- as the Yankees walked off against the Blue Jays 5-4. The A's one-hit the Rangers 4-0, so the Red Sox's wild card lead is now 6.5. Terry Francona will likely ease up as it seems all but certain that Boston has grabbed a playoff spot, and that is the wisest move, but damn, I want to push hard for the division.
Goddamn Blue Jays, thanks for ruining what would have been a perfect night.
Joe Saunders (4.81, 95 ERA+) / Paul Byrd (6.08, 78 ERA+)
Byrd makes his fourth start for the Sox. His first three have run the gamut from superb (6-3-0-3-1, 83 against Toronto on August 30), shitty (2.1-10-7-0-3, 60 against the White Sox on September 4) and serviceable/lucky (5-6-2-3-1, 83 against the Orioles on September 9).
Yesterday, Boston gained a game on New York and padded its wild card lead over Texas. The Red Sox play nine more games -- two against the Angels, three at Baltimore, and four in Kansas City -- before a three-game series in New York. Both the Orioles and Royals are last in their respective divisions. For the MFY, they host the Blue Jays tonight, then fly out west to play three against both the Mariners and Angels.
BP's odds for the Sox to win the East have moved from 0.4% to 2.2% in the past five days (they are now 96.3% for the wild card). Cool Standings has them at 3.8%
This can be done.
East W L PCT GB RS RA DIFF EXP W-L
Yankees 93 53 .637 --- 838 690 +148 86-60
Red Sox 85 58 .594 6.5 757 631 +126 83-60
Wild Card W L PCT GB RS RA DIFF EXP W-L
Red Sox 85 58 .594 --- 757 631 +126 83-60
Rangers 80 64 .556 5.5 700 643 + 57 78-66
Blue Jays/Yankees at 7 and A's/Rangers at 8.