Pirates - 200 001 000 - 3 7 1 Red Sox - 010 000 03x - 4 7 1After trailing for 7½ dismal, uneventful innings, the Red Sox rallied for three runs in an exciting eighth inning, with Hanley Ramirez tying the game with a two-run, bases-loaded double and Xander Bogaerts giving Boston a 4-3 lead with an opposite field single. (The Red Sox were also aided during the rally by the incompetent home plate, Gabe Morales, whose strike zone, which had been extremely wide all afternoon, shrunk drastically during the home half of the eighth, resulting in two Boston batters getting on base via walks.)
Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-4-3-4-8, 107) had a very rough first inning, throwing 33 pitches (many of them up in the zone) and allowing a walk, three hits, and two runs. Jordy Mercer began by working a seven-pitch walk. Rodriguez struck out Starling Marte, but Andrew McCutchen belted a two-run homer to left. When Gregory Polanco and David Freese followed with singles, it seemed like Thursday's contest might be a repeat of Wednesday's nightmare. But Rodriguez regained his bearings, and struck out Josh Harrison and Josh Bell, and he did not allow another hit until Polanco doubled with one out in the sixth.
Boston scored in the second when Mitch Moreland doubled (for the seventh consecutive game, a new Red Sox record!) to deep center and scored on Marco Hernandez's opposite-field double off the left field wall. After the run scored, however, Pirates starter Chad Kuhl (6.1-5-1-0-6, 92) retired the next 13 Boston batters.
Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead in the sixth. Polanco doubled to right and Freese walked. Heath Hembree relieved Rodriguez and on his 1-2 pitch to Harrison, both runners took off. Harrison swung and missed for strike three, but Christian Vazquez's throw to third was wild and as it went into left field, Polanco scored.
Pirates reliever Daniel Hudson retired Brock Holt on a weak grounder to first to open the bottom of the eighth. Dustin Pedroia walked on four pitches (although Hudson's second pitch was actually in the strike zone). Andrew Benintendi dropped a single into short center. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle brought in Juan Nicasio, who walked Mookie Betts on four pitches (again, Hudson's second pitch clearly should have been called a strike and balls 3 and 4 were very close and had been called strikes earlier in the day). Boston gladly accepted these gifts, however, and the bases were loaded fro Hanley Ramirez, who was 7-for-14 (with three doubles) against Nicasio in his career.
Ramirez made it 8-for-15 when he crushed a 1-1 pitch into the wind, to deep center. It sailed over Marte's head and hit against the wall near the garage door. Pedroia scored easily from third, but Benintendi stayed near second base (as if he was tagging) rather than going halfway to third and watching the play. So when the ball dropped safely onto the warning track, Benintendi and Betts were both near the bag. They took off for third, with Betts staying about ten feet behind Benintendi. The lead runner slid across the plate safely, but Betts was tagged on the foot as he tried to dance around catcher Chris Stewart's tag. (Morales was staring right at the tag and actually called Betts safe, but a challenge by the Pirates resulted in the call being (correctly) changed). If Benintendi had been halfway to third rather than near second base, Betts could probably have run at full speed and would have likely scored ahead of the throw. That "lost" run was forgotten, though, when, after Moreland was intentionally walked, Bogaerts lined an outside pitch into right and Ramirez scored the go-ahead run.
Red Sox fans held their collective breath as Craig Kimbrel began the top of the ninth. Kimbrel threw four fastballs to pinch-hitter Adam Frazier for a 2-2 count and when Kimbrel came in with a breaking ball, Frazier lined it to center for a single. Another pinch-hitter, Francisco Cervelli, battled Kimbrel for eight pitches. It appeared that Kimbrel had struck him out on a 2-2 pitch, but Morales called the pitch (which had been a strike most of the day) ball three. After fouling off two more offerings, Cervelli flied to deep right-center, with Betts making the catch on the warning track. (Whew!) Frazier decided to try stealing second on a 1-1 pitch to Mercer - and Vazquez's lightning-fast throw was high, but Pedroia reached up, grabbed it, and brought down his tag just in time for the second out. On Kimbrel's next pitch, Mercer ended the game with a grounder to second.
Pedroia had hit safely in the season's first eight games, but he went 0-for-3 with a walk. ... Vazquez had reached base in all seven of his plate appearances in 2017, but went 0-for-3. ... Bogaerts went 2-for-4 and has five hits in the last two games. ... After starting the season 0-for-12, Moreland has reached base in 16 of 27 plate appearances.
Benintendi has reached base in all nine games. In the last 100 years, only three other Red Sox have reached base in each of the team's first nine games of a season at the age of 22 or younger: Bobby Doerr (first 12 games in 1939), Jimmy Piersall (first 11 games in 1952), and George Scott (first 26 games in 1966).
Scoring Note: In the seventh inning of Baltimore's 12-5 win on Wednesday, Welington Castilo doubled to right field. Betts fired the ball in to Pedroia, who then dropped it, allowing Castillo to go to third. An error was charged to Pedroia. However, that call was later changed - and Betts was charged with the error. Looking at the play again, Betts made a one-hop throw to Pedroia, and the ball bounced true, with Pedroia gloving it at the level of his waist. It was not wild by any means. There is no way Betts should be charged with an error for that throw. ... Just the latest reason why fielding percentage is completely and utterly worthless.
Pedroia, 2BRobbie Ross - who has not pitched in a game this season - has been activated from the disabled list (flu) and Ben Taylor was sent to Pawtucket.
Jesus, shut the fuck up, Buck.