|Game 130: August 24, 2008 ∙ 11 innings
||W: Jonathan Papelbon (5-3)
S: Manny Delcarmen (1)
|75-55, 1 game winning streak
||L: Brandon League (0-2)
||67-63, 1 game losing streak
| Highlights: Enchōsen means extra innings or overtime. The first symbol means prolong or stretch, the second stands for long, and the last symbolizes battle, war, or match.|
Jerry Remy reined in his criticisms of Daisuke Matsuzaka significantly, primarily because the pitcher didn’t unintentionally walk a batter throughout his six innings of work. The formerly moribund, suddenly productive Vernon Wells took a fat yakker to the second deck in left field, one tier below Manny Ramirez territory. The center fielder drove in Toronto’s version of Alex Cora, Marco Scutaro for a quick lead.
A.J. Burnett imitated Matsuzaka in the top of the third, walking Cora and Coco Crisp in succession with one out and then getting a quick out off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury. Where Burnett failed, however, was escaping from his errant pitches. Dustin Pedroia shot a rocket, fired a laser, blasted a bomb, whatever hyperbole the loudmouth second baseman enjoys employing when he gets a hold of a pitch and sends it to souvenir city.
David Ortiz followed up with a double roped to right that probably earned some of Pedroia’s feigned derision in the dugout. “A double?” the squirt would ask increduously. “Next time you want to really launch one over the fences, come talk to me, I can give you some tips, Papi.”
Kevin Youkilis plated Ortiz with a single to center, which likely increased Pedroia’s amusement. “So, the clean-up guy gets a single? I mean, it is an RBI single, but I got a homer off this guy,” the middle infielder would quip whilst flexing what one would charitably call his biceps.
Matsuzaka got himself into a rhythm that was derailed with a long injury delay in the fourth. The starter whiffed Wells on three pitches and then watched in amazement as Ellsbury retreated to deep right to glove Adam Lind’s drive right before crashing into the chain link fence that hems in the visiting bullpen. Even with the tremendous collision the rookie outfielder held onto the ball.
For about 10 minutes Paul Lessard and Terry Francona hovered around Ellsbury trying to help him with his contact lens. He finally replaced it himself, which is what he should have done in the first place. I never understood letting someone do that; it would be like making someone else brush your teeth for you.
Lyle Overbay took the long timeout to collect himself. When Matsuzaka hurled a cut fastball inside Overbay cleaned it out for his eleventh homer of the season. Matt Stairs sneaked a single into center but got no farther thanks to a ground out by Rod Barajas. The four pitches that the Blue Jays backstop saw in that at bat would help his team out in the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth Toronto again displayed offensive prowess that only seems possible when the Jays face Boston. Alex Rios led off with a single to Jason Bay and Wells wore out the same part of the field with a ringing double to tally the tying run. Lind provided a productive out that advanced Wells to third, prompting Francona to pay tribute to Stairs with the four-finger salute. Stairs is the type of hitter that can dial back his swing to make contact and get runs across the dish when needed, so giving him a free pass with Barajas in the offing was the right move.
But Barajas learned from his prior at bat and Matsuzaka was flagging at this stage of the game. After taking fastballs that skirted the zone, the rotund catcher cracked a fastball below the knees down the third base line to push across the go-ahead run.
Just as it seemed the Red Sox would fall to two games under .500 against the AL East, Coco Crisp lofted a game-tying homer to right-center field. The motivation must have come from trying to hit the ball hard enough to destroy the garish wall scoreboards that ring the field.
Justin Masterson, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon held the home team scoreless for four innings. Only Masterson allowed a baserunner: who else but the pesky Scutaro singled to reach in the seventh. Papelbon gave up a heart-stopping drive to Rios in the bottom of the tenth that was snatched before hitting the padding in left by a well-timed jump by Bay.
Jed Lowrie isn’t just nailing the coffin shut on the Julio Lugo era but bringing a blow torch and sealing the veteran shortstop’s chances to reclaim his starting job in a lead sarcophagus. The rookie shortstop arced a solo shot to the right of the 375 marker in right-center for what would be the winning run.
Manny Delcarmen notched his second major league save despite allowing a leadoff walk to Wells. The Red Sox departed the Great White North with the series and their dignity intact. Now to continue to improve their record against the AL East against the loathsome and lowly Yankees.