Closing Time: David Ortiz's late heroics allow Red Sox to salvage series win vs. Rangers

April 09, 2014 - 3:06 pm
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The Red Sox appeared primed for another home contest in which a listless lineup spelled their undoing and spoiled a strong performance by the rotation. But in the bottom of the eighth, the team rallied with a walk by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a single by A.J. Pierzynski that put runners on first and second for the heart of the order. Dustin Pedroia laced a hard grounder to Elvis Andrus, but the Rangers shortstop rushed it. He still managed to get a force play, but the Sox thus had one out with runners on the corners rather than two outs and a runner on third. In the latter scenario, perhaps the Rangers would have pitched around David Ortiz with an open base. As it was, they brought in left-hander Neal Cotts -- against whom Ortiz was 0-for-5 in his career with five strikeouts -- to face the Red Sox DH. Ortiz flipped the script, taking a pair of sliders (one a ball, one a strike) before unloading on an 89 mph meatball down the middle. He crushed it, sending an arcing shot that went well beyond the Pesky Pole, with the only questions being whether the blast was fair or foul. First base ump Jerry Meals gave an emphatic signal that it crossed the pole in play, a three-run homer that gave the Sox a 4-2 victory and allowed them to salvage a series victory over the Rangers. The Sox to head to New York having won two of the three series they've played this year. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- David Ortiz's launch was the 21st of his Red Sox career in the eighth inning or later that gave his team the lead. He also drilled his second double to center in as many days. -- The Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy to stabilize their rotation last summer, at a time when Clay Buchholz was on the disabled list, and he did that. The veteran delivered solid performances throughout the regular season. But he never seemed truly dominant. As such, Peavy's performance on Wednesday proved eye-opening. The right-hander showed swing-and-miss stuff unlike anything he'd featured since last year's deadline trade, delivering 6 2/3 innings in which he punched out eight -- tied for his most strikeouts with the Red Sox. His slider and changeup were particularly sharp, and he also elicited at least one swing and miss on his curve, on a day when he had an 88-92 mph fastball. However, Peavy's effort went unrewarded, as the right-handed absorbed a no-decision. With the Sox unable to muster more than one run of support for him, Peavy managed to stay on the tightrope until the top of the seventh, when he gave up a massive solo homer to Mitch Moreland off the back wall of the visitor's bullpen on a poorly located fastball. Still, that was one of just two mistakes made by Peavy (the other being a fastball down the gut on the first pitch of the game that Shin-Soo Choo walloped to center for a double), in an otherwise dominant performance that saw him yield one run on three hits with four walks and the eight punchouts. It was the second straight strong outing from Peavy, who permitted two runs in six innings in his season debut against the Brewers last Friday. Though he's 0-1 following Wednesday's no-decision, the right-hander has an impressive 2.18 ERA. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. -- who hadn't walked entering Wednesday's game -- accepted a pair of free passes from Rangers starter Robbie Ross. It was the second multi-walk game of his career -- with the other having come in his big league debut against the Yankees last April 1. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- Aside from taking pitches, the Red Sox offense could do absolutely nothing against Rangers starter Robbie Ross. The team collected just one hit -- a Dustin Pedroia swinging bunt that went no more than 40 feet -- through the first five innings and squandered the many opportunities to hit with runners on base (courtesy of Ross' walks). Though Ross walked six, the Sox couldn't capitalize, as they went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. -- Shin-Soo Choo remained a source of constant frustration to the Red Sox, reaching base three times on a double and two walks. He reached in nine of his 13 plate appearances in the three-game series. -- Xander Bogaerts walked twice, but he gave an out to the Rangers when he overslid second base on a stolen base attempt. Had he not overslid the bag, Bogaerts would have claimed his second career stolen base and first of 2014. -- Daniel Nava was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, all looking. -- Andrew Miller gave up what was a go-ahead run in the eighth inning before Ortiz bailed him out.

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