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Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Curse of A.J. Pierzynski is Broken, Red Sox Start a Fresh New Chapter


A funny thing happened to the Red Sox tonight on the way to another heartless loss: they actually pulled out an improbable comeback capped off by a walk-off single by Brock Holt to beat the White Sox 5-4 at Fenway Park. Chicago (44-48 overall, 20-27 away) had been up 4-0 in the eighth inning before Boston (40-51 overall, 22-26 home) scored three in the eighth then two in the ninth for their seventh walk-off win of the season.

With their ace Chris Sale (7.2 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts) on the mound, this was a game that the White Sox had no business losing. He left after throwing 107 pitches; relievers Jake Patricka and Javy Guerra (0-1) each gave up two earned runs to blow it after Chicago had won the first two games of the series. It sounds cheesy but wins have been so hard to come by lately that I almost forgot how sweet they can feel in situations like that.

Rubby De La Rosa (5 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts) made his first start for Boston since June 21 after he was called up to take Brandon Workman's place (while he went back to Pawtucket). Rookie catcher Christian Vazquez made his MLB debut and with Boston designating A.J. Pierzynski for assignment earlier in the day, this means that the highly touted youngster will be getting plenty of playing time to see what he can do.

Jose Abreu (2 for 4) hit a solo homer to center field, his 28th of the season (!), in the first inning. Conor Gillaspie (2 for 4 with double, 2 runs) followed with a solo shot of his own in the second for a 2-0 White Sox advantage. Chicago scored a run in the fourth on Mike Napoli's error and it was 4-0 in the seventh following an RBI double by Adam Eaton.

The Red Sox' rally started with something I've never seen before: an infield double by Mookie Betts (2 for 3 with 2 runs, double). Dustin Pedroia drove him in with a single then David Ortiz (2 for 4 with run) crushed an opposite field double off the wall in left center to cut it to 4-2. Jonny Gomes (2 for 3) made it 4-3 with an RBI double.

He batted ninth as part of Boston's five rookies in the lineup (their most since 1987) but Betts came through again in the ninth. He was hit by a pitch then scored the tying run on Daniel Nava's pinch hit double. That set the stage for Holt's first career walk-off hit and who better to provide it with how incredible he's been since he was called up (again).

It didn't seem like much at the time but this victory wouldn't have been possible without Craig Breslow (1-2-3 6th), Junichi Tazawa (scoreless 8th) and the newest All-Star Koji Uehara (5-2) who struck out the side in the ninth to set the tone.

In their last home game before the All-Star break, Jon Lester (9-7) faces Jose Quintana (5-7) tomorrow afternoon (4:05, NESN) as Boston tries to split the four-game series with Chicago.





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