Ninth Inning Home Runs Assure The Red Sox A Win...And A Clinch For The Playoffs!
Boom! BOOM! And just like that, in the ninth inning Saturday night, the Boston Red Sox forged ahead to an 8-6 lead and Jonathon Papelbon started warming up in the bullpen for the bottom of that frame. And 12 pitches later, it was ovah!! SOX WIN, and better yet, they clinched a playoff berth....no ifs, ands or buts. They're in. Of course, winning the AL East would be so nice, but that will have to wait as they try to win all seven of their remaining games. Were it not for the ineptitude of the Toronto Blue Jays, who blew a 2 run lead over the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox would be up by 3 1/2 games instead of 2 1/2. But an error by the Jays' second baseman let the tying two runs score, and the pinstripers went on to win the game in 10. Oh well, enough about them.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was good until the seventh inning, when he walked Velandia and Iwamura. His night was done, and the score at the time, with 2 on and 2 out, was 5-3 Sox. A quality start, albeit with a ton of pitches for the amount of innings pitched. But Javy Lopez came on in relief and surrendered a 3 run home run to ex-Soxer Carlos Pena. 6-5 bad guys. But things were just getting set up for some much needed 9th inning heroic drama. Jason Varitek homered to deep left to make it a tie game, and Julio Lugo, with Eric Hinske aboard, homered, also to deep left. No cheap shots there, that's for sure! 8-6 Red Sox, and Paps nailed it down. It was a satisfying win, especially after losing the lead after being up 3 to 2 and 5 to 3. This is what hero Julio Lugo had to say after the game...
"We are right where we want to be right now, making the playoffs," Lugo said. "I felt like (Boston DH) David Ortiz going around the bases. It's nice to be able to do something to win and make sure we made the playoffs."
So we have one more game with the Rays this afternoon, and Timmy Wakefield will try to keep his Tampa Bay greatness going in an important game. And after a day off tomorrow, we go home to the Fens. For good! And that's just great!
Click on the title of this post for the Herald's Tony Massarotti's overlook of the AL playoffs to come, and how each of the contenders shape up. A great read. Enjoy your Sunday, Constant Readers, and let's hope the Sox go out and sweep the Rays. A nice way to say "So long, Tampa Bay!"