Closing Time: David Ortiz, Mike Napoli restore order, victory for Red Sox in Detroit

June 08, 2014 - 7:45 pm
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David Ortiz sometimes laments the fact that, at 38 and in his 12th season with the Red Sox, he still is the one asked to carry the load in the middle of the order. But he has yet to buckle under it. With the Red Sox just two outs from their seventh straight loss, Ortiz launched a three-run homer to deep right field in the top of the ninth inning, transforming a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 advantage that proved the Sox' ultimate margin of victory. The blast was the 16th homer to tie a game or give the Sox a lead in the ninth inning or later in Ortiz's Red Sox tenure, and his 26th such hit overall since 2003. It was his first such hit in almost exactly a year, since a walkoff homer against the Rangers last June 6. The blast snapped the Red Sox' five-game losing streak and permitted the team to avoid a potentially devastating late-innings defeat. It was the Sox' second win of the year in which they entered the ninth with a deficit; they were 1-26 in such contests prior to Sunday. That Ortiz delivered the decisive blow merely added to the folklore that will accompany his Red Sox tenure. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- In his first game off the disabled list, Mike Napoli immediately delivered some of the offensive impact that had been absent from the middle (and, for that matter, the top and bottom) of the Red Sox lineup, launching a game-tying, sixth-inning solo homer to right field against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez. It was both the first homer by Napoli since April 22 (Napoli had gone 23 straight games without a homer prior to landing on the DL) and the first homer by anyone this year against Sanchez. Prior to that, Sanchez had faced 214 batters this year without a single longball. On the night, Napoli went 3-for-4 with the homer and a walk. Napoli now has a .401 OBP this year, tops on the Red Sox. -- Brock Holt, appearing in the outfield (specifically, left field) for the second time in his life and the first in a setting other than a slow-pitch softball game, not only handled his defensive work remarkably well (most notably by making a tremendous running catch against the wall on an Ian Kinsler fly ball) but also went 4-for-5 with a triple. It was his second four-hit game in 28 big league contests this year with the Sox, and the fourth time this year that he's reached base three or more times, helping to explain why the Red Sox appear ready to do anything in their power to keep him in the everyday lineup. -- John Lackey was mostly dominant against the Tigers, logging eight innings in which he gave up three runs (but just two earned) on seven hits (all but one a single, with the lone exception being a double by Miguel Cabrera), walked one and struck out five. Lackey has now allowed one or no walks in eight of his 13 starts this year. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- Though he collected a single, Jackie Bradley Jr. also fanned three times, including in a key situation with the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the eighth inning. In his last three games, Bradley is 3-for-14 with 10 strikeouts in 16 plate appearances. -- Stephen Drew went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, and he's now 1-for-14 with five strikeouts since joining the Red Sox. His struggles have been sufficiently severe that, with left-hander Phil Coke on the hill, manager John Farrell used switch-hitter Jonathan Herrera to pinch-hit for Drew in the eighth inning. -- A.J. Pierzynski went 1-for-5, grounding into a double play and running into an out when he strayed too far off of second base on an infield groundout. -- Xander Bogaerts booted a potential double-play grounder with a runner on first and no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to set in motion Detroit's game-winning rally. It was his first career major league error at third base in 15 games at the position. Bogaerts also went 0-for-4 with a walk and could not execute a sacrifice bunt attempt in the ninth en route to one of his most indecisive swinging strikeouts of the year on a breaking ball from Joba Chamberlain. However, Bogaerts atoned for the misplay in the ninth when he made a diving play on a Nick Castellanos smash to his left to record the second out of the frame, then made a leaping catch of an Austin Jackson bullet to end the game.
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