Red Sox - 000 005 000 - 5 6 0 Orioles - 001 000 000 - 1 4 3The Red Sox had loaded the bases for the third time in the game. (They had come up empty the previous two times.) Now, in the top of the sixth, Sandy Leon - 0-for-his-last-15 - batted with two outs. Orioles reliever Brad Brach had a 2-2 count, and was possibly one pitch away from getting out of the inning, and preserving Baltimore's 1-0 lead. The odds were clearly in Brach's favour, as he came into the game having stranded 24 of 25 inherited runners.
Two pitches later, Boston led 5-1.
Leon grounded Brach's 2-2 pitch to the right side. First baseman Chris Davis gloved the ball and threw across his body. His throw led Brach to the bag, but it was thrown far too hard and it sailed past Brach's outstretched glove and into foul territory. Two runs scored. Then Andrew Benintendi lined Brach's next pitch over the high wall/scoreboard in right field for a three-run homer. And the Red Sox - the hottest team in baseball (14-5 in September) - had a four-run lead.
The Orioles did not put up a fight after that. Clay Buchholz (7-3-1-2-4, 95) finished his strong outing with a perfect seventh. Brad Ziegler needed only nine pitches to retire the side in order. Robby Scott began the ninth by striking out Davis, but Mark Trumbo reached on an infield single. Manager John Farrell brought in Craig Kimbrel. Pinch-hitter Trey Mancini flied to right and Jonathan Schoop grounded to third.
Buchholz has a 3.09 ERA in his last six starts. With the win, the Red Sox now have their longest winning streak of the season: seven games. And because the Blue Jays lost to the Mariners, Boston also leads the AL East by five games, with 10 games to play.
The Orioles took the lead in the third on a series of plays that could hardly be blamed on Buchholz. Schoop got a single on a bloop that fell safely into short right-center. Matt Wieters dropped down a bunt and catcher Sandy Leon opted for the force at second. It was an ill-advised play and even a perfect throw might not have recorded the out. Leon's throw was offline and both runners were safe. Buchholz walked J.J. Hardy on four pitches, but two of them probably should have been called strikes. With the bases loaded, Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly to left.
Boston had squandered several scoring chances before they finally scored. With two outs in the first, David Ortiz singled, Mookie Betts walked, and Travis Shaw singled. With the sacks full, Aaron Hill tapped a slow roller towards third. Manny Machado gunned a throw to first that just nipped Hill (the Red Sox considered challenging the call, but declined).
In the fourth, Betts singled to center and stole second as Shaw struck out. Wieters's throw to second hit Betts and caromed into left-center, and Mookie took third on the error. Hill then reached on catcher's interference when, as he was fouling off a 3-2 pitch, his bat hit Wieters's mitt. Ubaldo Jimenez then walked Jackie Bradley to load the bases. It was another golden opportunity for runs, but Leon grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.
Pedroia, 2BBoston's magic number for winning the AL East is 8 with 11 games to play. ... Also: Blue Jays/Mariners.
BOS --- TOR 4.0 BAL 5.0