Red Sox Take Over 1st Place After Walk-Off Thriller

Photo by: John Wilcox

In a rematch of the 2016 ALDS between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians, this game seemed as though these teams were still in the playoffs. The atmosphere at Fenway Park was electric, as the Sox walked off with a 12-10 victory in a regular season thriller against the Tribe. This was one of the craziest, most entertaining baseball games all season, and the best part is, it sent the Sox back into 1st place in the AL East.

This game didn’t go as many would’ve expected. When Chris Sale and Carlos Carrasco is the pitching match-up, you wouldn’t expect to see the score that high. And the scoring started early, too. Chris Sale gave up 3 runs in the 1st inning. Going into this start, I didn’t even expect Sale to give up 3 earned runs, let alone have that many cross the plate in the 1st inning against the AL Cy Young frontrunner. The 2nd inning was not a smooth one for Sale, either, as he gave up a tape measure 2-run HR to Brandon Guyer, making the score 5-0 Indians.

The Sox answered back in the bottom half of the 2nd against Carrasco. Mitch Moreland delivered a 3-run bomb, scoring himself, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, minimizing the Indians’ lead to just 2 runs. Brock Holt hit an infield single, which scored Christian Vazquez, making the game 5-4 in favor of the Tribe. Still in the 2nd inning, Sox newly acquired utility man Eduardo Nunez doubled to CF, scoring Mookie Betts. 5-5 ball game. Nunez has been amazing since Dave Dombrowski made the move to bring him in from San Fran. He’s lifted this Red Sox offense up and has done nothing but hit in a Sox uniform. Since the trade, Nunez is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with 2 home runs (both coming in the same game), 11 RBI and 2 swiped bags.

The score remained at 5-5 until the 5th inning, when Edwin Encarnacion uncorked a 2-run HR ball off Sale, giving the Indians back the lead at 7-5. Sale exited the game after 5, with a final pitching line of 5 IP, 8 hits, 7 ER, 5 Ks, 2 HRs allowed. This was a terrible outing for the ace, but there are a few takeaways from it. It’s worth noting that Sale has had Sandy Leon catch him all season, and Leon was scratched prior to the game with a knee injury. Sale and Leon have had great chemistry all along and Sale is notorious for not shaking off his catchers, trusting them to call the game. So maybe with Vazquez behind the plate instead of Leon, it might’ve thrown Sale off a bit. Another takeaway is just how psychotic Sale is when pitching. It’s awesome to watch. Him screaming at himself and just being completely fired up. You don’t see someone with that much emotion very often on the mound, so when you do, it’s actually a great site because it shows how much they care about actually succeeding. Maybe David Price could take a page out of Sale’s book and show up to his starts with that kind of fire, just a suggestion.

Hanley Ramirez tried chipping away at the Indians’ lead in the bottom of the 5th when he sent a shot to CF, but Austin Jackson made the play of the year, robbing Hanley while flipping into the Sox’ bullpen, hanging onto the ball for the out.

This catch left everybody shocked. Hanley couldn’t believe it, the crowd at Fenway couldn’t believe it, and neither could anyone in the Red Sox bullpen. That’s one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen. What looked like a sure home run from Ramirez, turned into just an amazing defensive play by Jackson. Tip of the cap to Austin.

The Sox then came up in the 6th with a vengeance. Mookie scored Moreland on an infield single, 7-6 Tribe lead now. Then Eduardo Nunez came up with the bases juiced and delivered a bases-clearing two-bagger, giving the Sox their first lead of the game at 9-7.

The Sox took that 9-7 lead into the 8th inning, as they sent out their new setup man Addison Reed, who was making his first Red Sox appearance. Pitching to his first batter in a Sox uniform, didn’t go the way Reed would’ve hoped, as he gave up a solo home run to Carlos Santana leading off the inning. Reed escaped the 8th, giving up just the one run, and holding the Red Sox lead at 9-8.

Top of the 9th inning, 9-8 lead, and the Sox unleash the Kraken, bringing out their closer, Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has been one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball this season, being virtually unhittable. Well in last night’s game, he got hit. Francisco Lindor took Kimbrel deep, tying the score at 9 and giving Kimbrel the blown save. Kimbrel was shook after this one, as the remainder of the inning was not smooth. Kimbrel ended up loading the bases, and a wild pitch that got away from Vazquez scored Jose Ramirez, giving the Tribe a 10-9 lead late in the game. Kimbrel escaped the jam in the top of the 9th, not allowing the other base runners to score, keeping the game at 10-9.

Devers came up with one out in the 9th, and hustled out an infield single, diving through the bag at first base. It’s scary to watch players dive through first, as we see Bogaerts doing that all time. It’s just a hand/wrist injury waiting to happen. But all’s well as Devers beat out the play and avoiding injury. I want to take a second to talk about the kid, Devers. He has raked since the call-up prior to the trade deadline. The 20-year-old Devers is now hitting .429 with 2 home runs, 4 RBI, 6 runs scored, and has reached base in all seven games he has played, including a 4-for-4 night. Devers had a ton of hype surrounding him, and he’s exceeding all of that with his great play. Back to the game recap. Now with two outs and Devers at first, Moreland stepped into the box, hoping to keep the Sox alive. Well, he struck out. But with the pitch getting away from Yan Gomes behind the plate, Moreland was safe at first base without a throw, advancing Devers to second. With the Sox still alive in the bottom of the 9th, it was Vazquez’s turn. And oh my, he delivered, in great fashion. Vazquez sent a bomb out to left-center, walking-off with a 3-run moonshot off Indians closer, Cody Allen, to give the Sox a 12-10 win!

This was the game of the year in the MLB. A playoff atmosphere the entire game. Back and forth scoring and momentum. This is what baseball is all about. If these two teams meet back up in the postseason, expect the games to be similar to this one. With this win over the Tribe, the Sox take a 0.5 game lead over the Yanks in the AL East.

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