September 25, 2011

G159: Red Sox 7, Yankees 4 (14)

Red Sox - 000 011 200 000 03 - 7 15  1
Yankees - 300 000 100 000 00 - 4  6  0
Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run bomb to right-center - his third home run of the doubleheader and 31st of the season - will lead the highlights from this nail-biting marathon, but the outstanding performance by the Boston bullpen was equally important in giving the Red Sox a crucial one-game lead in the wild card standings with three games left on the schedule.

A quintet of relievers, led by Jonathan Papelbon (2.1-0-0-0-4, 29) and Franklin Morales (2-1-0-2-2, 44), pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing only one hit. Coupled with Lackey's righting the ship (6-5-4-3-4, 86) after a rough first inning, the Yankees managed only two singles in the last 12.2 innings.

Papelbon came out of the pen to strike out rookie Austin Romine with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. For some reason, Joe Girardi - who had several halfway-decent players on his bench, including Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter - opted not to pinch-hit for Romine, who was making the 16th plate appearance of his young career. ... In the 13th, Morales fanned Brett Gardner with the winning run on third base.

Ellsbury became the first 30 HR/30 SB player in Red Sox history in the afternoon game, and he ended the nightcap by setting a new MLB record for RBI (103) for a leadoff hitter*. He leads all MLB players in extra-base hits and total bases. Ellsbury has been on fire for the entire second half of the season, with an OPS of 1.130 in July, .912 in August, and 1.088 in September. If Ellsbury wins the AL MVP award, Sunday's doubleheader will be seen as the tipping point.

*: Ninety-five of Ellsbury's 103 RBI have come while hitting in the leadoff spot. Darin Erstad (2000 Angels) holds the all-time record with 100.

In the sixth inning, Pedroia tried to score the tying run on a pitch that sailed to the backstop. The ball caromed right back to Romine and Pedroia, knowing he was a dead duck, tried to leap over the catcher's tag, but it didn't work.
John Lackey / Ivan Nova

Game 2 of a day/night doubleheader.

The Rays beat the Blue Jays 4-2, cutting Boston's lead in the wild card standings to only one-half game.
Ellsbury, CF
Crawford, LF
Pedroia, 3B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Lowrie, 3B
Drew, RF
Scutaro, SS
Varitek, C
Game thread.

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