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Home » 2013 PostseasonOctober 2013 » Nine Pitchers Pitching

Nine Pitchers Pitching

Eight bases on balls. Seven umpires umpiring. Six pitchers in the bullpen. No gold rings.

Four catwalk rings. Three runs scored. Two saves for Koji Uehara. And an ALCS ticket for the Red Sox.

Joe Maddon swapped out pitchers faster and more often than Lady Gaga changes costumes. Jeremy Hellickson, who had been a much-vaunted prospect in Tampa Bay’s system, was tapped to start the game. He began promisingly by sitting the first three batters without incident. In the second frame, however, the wheels came off quickly. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli walked on four pitches each and Daniel Nava lined a single to right field.

Rather than seeing how the Tampa Bay “RAYS”ed hurler would perform with the bases loaded and none out Maddon pulled Hellickson in favor of Jamey Wright. Maddon proved what a brilliant tactic this was when Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out and Stephen Drew lined into an improbable double play. Just like he drew it up.

Maddon’s luck ran out in the seventh inning. He would have preferred a shut down frame after his team had finally scored when David DeJesus drove in Yunel Escobar. But the Red Sox skipper made a move that, unlike Maddon’s rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, truly changed the course of the contest.

John Farrell pinch hit Xander Bogaerts for Stephen Drew and the rookie came through with a six-pitch walk with one out. Jake McGee was distracted by the presence of the dynamic shortstop on first base but managed to strike out Will Middlebrooks. Jacoby Ellsbury got a hold of Peralta’s fastball and sent it to Wil Myers’s territory with enough loft to allow Bogaerts to get to third.

Maddon immediately countered by calling on Joel Peralta. If McGee was distracted by Bogaerts, Peralta proved to be petrified of Ellsbury. His first pitch to Shane Victorino was a wild one that plated Bogaerts and allowed Ellsbury to dash to third. Victorino then tapped the ball to Escobar in what should have been an out but turned into an infield single and go-ahead run.

Bogaerts also sparked the production of an insurance run in the ninth by leading off the stanza with a six-pitch base on balls. This time Fernando Rodney supplied a galley-west pitch to Ellsbury on which Bogaerts advanced to second. Ellsbury didn’t swing the bat once and walked. Victorino was on his way to a base on balls but Rodney got the count full only to hit the outfielder to load the bases. It was the fourth time Victorino was hit by a pitch in the ALDS, tying him with Miguel Cairo (2004) and Carlos Ruiz (2010) for most plunks in the postseason.

Dustin Pedroia lofted a sacrifice fly to Myers to plate Bogaerts. With a two-run lead all that remained was for Koji Uehara to contend with the Rays’ hottest and best hitters. There was no repeat of the Lobaton incident; instead it was a baker’s dozen pitches of pure dominance.

Jake Peavy didn’t stay on the mound long enough to be part of the decision but in his 5⅔ innings the Rays could only cobble together a single run while he struck them out three times and surrendered five hits. The Red Sox pitchers didn’t allow a single free pass. “From the No. 1 guy to the 25th guy, we have one common goal, and that’s to end up on top,” said the starter. When the Red Sox celebrated they didn’t swim in their hosts’ pool.

The Red Sox were loose during the off days. They made a memorable appearance on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk.” Jonny Gomes was anointed the Kevin Millar of the bunch. Gomes deadpanned, “I sure hope that's not a jab.”

ALDS Game 4: October 8, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
3 W: Craig Breslow (1-0)
H: Junichi Tazawa (2)
S: Koji Uehara (2)
No extra base hits
Tampa Bay Rays
1 H, L: Jake McGee (1, 0-1)
BS: Joel Peralta (1)
2B: Yunel Escobar (2)

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