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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Red Sox Are Still Alive (For One More Day At Least) Thanks To Jacoby Ellsbury

Being unemployed and having a Sunday Night Football matchup of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts (with no Peyton Manning) will drive a man to do many things: drink, do drugs and the most abusive behavior of all-watching a 14-inning Red Sox-Yankees game.

Thankfully for my sanity, Boston (89-70) made it all worthwhile (kind of) with a thrilling 7-4 win over New York (97-62) in Yankee Stadium.

Mr. AL MVP Jacoby Ellsbury (sounds good, doesn't it?) made sure that the Rays wouldn't end the day tied with the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card as he crushed a three-run bomb off Yankees fossil reliever Scott Proctor (0-2).

Felix Doubront got a 1-2-3 14th for his first save of the season. It's not hyperbole to say that this was the Red Sox' most important win of 2011 since if they had lost (like they did earlier in Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader), they were cooked (tied with Tampa Bay).

John Lackey didn't exactly spin a gem but by keeping Boston in the game, he succeeded in his most meaningful start for the Red Sox. He allowed three runs in the first but Big Hoss (hat tip to El Pres) held on for six innings. He gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

Alfredo Aceves (1.2 innings), Daniel Bard (1 inning, 3 walks), Jonathan Papelbon (2.1 innings), Franklin Morales (1-1; 2 innings) and Doubront teamed up for an incredible performance by the Red Sox bullpen which has been running on empty for weeks. Most impressive were Aceves and Papelbon who didn't allow any hits and Morales for holding on during a rocky 44-pitch, 2 walks outing.

Would you believe that J.D. Drew was in the lineup after a three month plus vacation (last game July 19)? Yup, when the team is collapsing you need to bring him in to deliver the goods. He actually got Boston's first run in the fifth with an RBI single.

Adrian Gonzalez's ground out in the sixth and Marco Scutaro's RBI double in the seventh tied it before Jason Varitek put the Red Sox ahead with an RBI single later in the seventh.

Chris Dickerson tied it with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

The win tonight more than made up for the forgettable 6-2 loss this afternoon and I don't just say that since I saw probably three total minutes of it. Hey, I had to watch the Patriots choke away a big lead to the Bills!

Tim Wakefield (7-8) lost that one just like we all knew he would. A.J. Burnett (11-11), Lackey's tattooed cousin from another uncle, was the latest recipient of Boston's turd sandwich against shitty starting pitchers.

From my perspective, the only notable aspect of Game 1 is that Ellsbury hit two homers (his 29th and 30th of the season). Coincidentally, the second one gave him 100 RBIs on the season. He's the first 30-30 player in Red Sox history.

Here we go, the 2011 regular season ends at Camden Yards. The pitching matchups are Josh Beckett vs. Tommy Hunter tomorrow night (one the O's won last week), Erik Bedard vs. Zach Britton on Tuesday and Jon Lester vs. Alfredo Simon on Wednesday. The Yankees go to Tropicana Field to face the Rays in their last pretend series.

If they can't beat the Orioles enough to hang on, there will be no excuses. Baltimore won three of four at Fenway last week. Hopefully this win propels Boston to the finish line and where they go from there, we'll worry about that later.

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