The Boston Red Sox managed to stave off mathematical elimination Friday night, taking an 8-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays thanks to a ninth-inning rally.
The Red Sox actually got two strong innings from Daisuke Matsuzaka to start the game, making this look suspiciously like one of those rare dominant Daisuke nights. The third, however, would dispel all thoughts of dominance as the disappointing starter provided the most stereotypical of Daisuke innings.
The disaster third got started with, of course, a plunking, followed quickly by a walk. While Matsuzaka managed to strike out Rajai Davis, he would offer up another free pass to Colby Rasmus to load the bases. They would be just as quickly unloaded when Daisuke spiked a pitch to Brett Lawrie into the ground, earning him a wild pitch and giving Moises Sierra a free ticket home.
The sixth pitch of that at bat to Lawrie would have reloaded the bases with another walk were it not for the fact that ball four went for another wild pitch, letting another run come home. Daisuke would finally have a ball in play as Adam Lind grounded out to second, but with the Sox unable to turn the first leg of the double play, the Jays brought another run in the back door. Three runs on zero hits, zero errors, one ball in play. If for some reason your children ask you one day what it was like to watch Daisuke pitch, show them this inning.
The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, had been kept off the board for the first three innings, but they'd made some headway with a pair of two-out singles in the third. The fourth would be where they broke through. Before an out was even recorded, Cody Ross had walked, Mauro Gomez had singled, and Ryan Lavarnway had caught an 85 MPH fastball and turned it into a three-run shot, putting it over the wall in left on a line to tie the game.
The tie would only last until the top of the next inning, when the Sox struck again thanks largely in part to Brett Lawrie. With two down and Mike Aviles on second, Lawrie scooped a ground ball to third and, instead of going to first, tried to tag Aviles on his way to the bag. Aviles pulled out his best football moves, spinning around the tag, and dove safely into first, setting up a walk from Ryan Lavarnway and two-run single from Daniel Nava that made it 5-3.
Of course, the Jays would climb back. Daisuke Matsuzaka miraculously made it all the way to the sixth, but surrendered a one-out triple which Clayton Mortensen could not keep from scoring. Then in the eighth, after another impressive inning from Junichi Tazawa, Vicente Padilla surrendered a leadoff single to Colby Rasmus and double to Brett Lawrie, and the lead was gone. Only a tremendous sliding grab from Daniel Nava saved the Sox from a deficit, as Chris Carpenter came in to mop up the rest.
Just like in the middle innings, however, the tide would shift suddenly back in Boston's favor, and this time for good. Jacoby Ellsbury shot a ground ball through the left side, and moved to second when Cody Ross dropped a line drive just in front of Rajai Davis. Up came Mauro Gomez, and the International League MVP delivered, hitting a hard drive to right-center that got past a diving Anthony Gose and to the wall, allowing both runners to score and moving Gomez to third. He would score on a Ryan Lavarnway sacrifice fly, and the Sox took an 8-5 lead that Andrew Bailey would not surrender in the bottom half of the inning.
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