Lester And Ellsbury Fuel Red Sox Win...Boston 8 Tampa Bay 4
The bottom of the eighth inning seemed like it lasted for a day and a half, but in reality, it lasted 33 minutes. Hideki Okajima had come in to a 7-2 Boston Red Sox lead and could not record an out. Sure, the hits the Rays got were cheap bloopers but those safties made for a very nervous half hour plus for yours truly. Jonathon Papelbon was summoned to try to record the first six out save of his career...he did it with a little help from centerfielder extraordinaire Jacoby Ellsbury. Let me start at the beginning of the Tuesday night game at the bad luck (for Boston) Tropicana Dome.
Jon Lester was not as sharp as he has been earlier this season but he was more than up to the task. He went six full innings and allowed only 2 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 9 (!). He also set the Red Sox club record when he recorded his 191st KO of the season. Bruce Hurst had previously held the record with 190. Great job, Jon. Boston had no problems scoring runs against Sonnanstine and things were rolling, rolling rolling on. Billy Wagner, in his second Boston appearance, threw a perfect seventh. He's been a great addition. Tito Francona brought in the Darkman, Hideki Okajima, to put a goose egg up in the eighth but it was then that things b e g a n....t o.....slowwwwww........d o w n. He was not able to record an out and with the bases loaded, Tito turned to Paps. Good move, Terry. Jason Bartlett hit a low drive towards centerfield and Ellsbury. He made a tumbling catch that must be seen to be believed. That grab saved the whole darn game. Here's his manager, Terry Francona...
“I told Ellsbury when he came in, ‘If you miss that and it rolls, go right up that tunnel and right out with it,’ ” manager Terry Francona said. “It was a game-saver.”
He was kidding about running out of the tunnel but he was right about it being a game-saver. Here's our outfielding acrobat himself...
“That’s one of those plays where you have to catch it,’’ he said. “If it gets by me, it’s probably an inside the park home run, maybe at best a triple. It’s one of those plays where you have to make it. I got a good jump on the ball, and I knew I could make it off the bat, so I went for it. As I’m sliding, try to get my body in the position to throw the ball, thinking Pat Burrell’s I knew I could get to it,’’ he said. “You have to make that play in that situation.’’
And Paps indeed did it. Sometimes it seems he's his effective best when the bases are loaded. He sure was last night, with a little help from his centerfielder friend who is rapidly becoming the best defensive outfielder in the major leagues. Watch a replay of it if you can...your jaw will drop to the floor, much like mine last night.
The Boston Red Sox won again and they now have a 3 1/2 game wild card lead over the never-say-die Texas Rangers, who won a double-dip last night. It'll be Josh Beckett, looking to regain his light's out form, facing Matt Garza. Gametime will be at 7:08 pm EDT. Enjoy it. Oh, you can click on this post's title for more Sox news and as always, BE WELL. We await October baseball. No ifs, ands or buts.