Jarrod Saltalamacchia played the hero Saturday night in what has to be the win of the year so far, hitting a walkoff home run to turn a 2-1 ninth inning deficit into a 3-2 win.
The game began as one would expect a Josh Beckett - David Price matchup to begin: with a lot of outs. Beckett has been nothing short of amazing against the Rays since last year, and David Price is one of the most difficult lefties in the game, particularly combined with one of the league's best defenses (if not by fielding percentage).
The Sox would get baserunners first, with Dustin Pedroia singling and Kevin Youkilis drawing a 9-pitch walk in the first before Adrian Gonzalez went down swinging to end the inning. Jose Molina would give the Rays their first hit in the third, but he would be the only baserunner Beckett would allow for the first six innings.
Boston would finally break through against Price in the sixth. A single and a walk from Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz got the inning started on the right foot, and though Dustin Pedroia would be thrown out at home on an Adrian Gonzalez single thanks to a great throw by B.J. Upton, a bit of mediocre defense by Sean Rodriguez allowed Will Middlebrooks to drive in David Ortiz rather than record the third out.
The lead would not last long, however, as the Rays managed to put together a few ground balls at the right time to the right places in the seventh. A sacrifice fly from Ben Zobrist after the Rays started the inning with two such singles tied the game, and with Daniel Nava throwing home instead of two second (he had no chance to catch Upton at the plate), Joyce was able to take a free base and put himself in position to grab the lead on the ensuing single from Luke Scott.
Andrew Miller and Rich Hill would manage to keep the score at 2-1 headed to the ninth, where the Sox faced the unfortunate prospect of needing to score a run with Daniel Nava, Kelly Shoppach, and Marlon Byrd due at the plate. Nava, the one who could possibly be expected to come through against the right-handed Fernando Rodney, did just that by working an 8-pitch walk. Bobby Valentine would elect to bunt him over to second base with Nick Punto, but it wouldn't matter at all in the end. Pinch-hitting for Marlon Byrd, Jarrod Saltalamacchia swung through one fastball, and then launched a second one high and deep to right-center, depositing it a few rows deep for the walkoff home run.
|Final - 5.26.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Tampa Bay Rays||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||2||4||0|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||3||9||1|
|WP: Rich Hill (1 - 0)
LP: Fernando Rodney (2 - 1)