The Boston Red Sox did everything they could to win last night’s game against the Detroit Tigers, but sometimes everything just isn’t enough. Placido Polanco’s broken bat single in the 9th inning off of Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon would knock in the game winner as the Tigers pulled off the 10-9 come from behind victory, snapping their five game losing streak and ending Boston’s five game winning streak.
“We had a great comeback and we couldn’t finish it,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
The Red Sox had trailed most of game and overcame a 4 run deficit that they faced after 5 innings when the Tigers led 8-4. Kevin Youkilis’ second homerun of the game in the 6th pulled the Sox within 3 runs, making the score 8-5 Detroit, and with two outs in the 7th inning Mike Lowell would belt a 3-run shot to knot the game at 8-8. The homerun came off of relief pitcher Francisco Cruceta, who had just entered the game.
Javier Lopez came out of the pen and pitched a scoreless 7th for the Sox retiring Ivan Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Placido Polanco in order. This was the only time Boston pitchers were able to retire the three in a row all evening. Detroit collected a season high 18 hits off of Red Sox pitching.
J.D. Drew led off the 8th inning with a walk and stolen base. After a Jason Varitek line out, Julio Lugo also walked putting runners on first and second with one out for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury would strike out swinging in a very good at bat leaving the stage set for pinch hitter Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia who had been given the night off delivered in the clutch, ripping the go ahead RBI single to left, plating Drew to put the Sox ahead for the first time all night 9-8.
Hideki Okajima preserved the lead pitching the 8th inning allowing a few hits but retiring the side without allowing a run. The inning ended on a strike him out; throw him out double play where Varitek caught Magglio Ordonez trying to steal third after Gary Sheffield struck out swinging.
The Sox threatened to add some insurance to their lead in the 9th inning off of Tigers closer Todd Jones, but Jones was able to get out of the jam stranding runners on first and second base.
With a lead in the 9th inning, Terry Francona did what he’s done a hundred times before, calling for the services of All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon to finish off the Tigers. Unfortunately for Papelbon and the Sox, the save just wasn’t in the cards last night.
Matt Joyce led off the inning with an infield single and was replaced at first base with pinch runner Ryan Raburn. Edgar Renteria then grounded to short in what looked to be a taylor-made double play ball only Julio Lugo rushed fielding the play, worrying too much about Raburn’s speed and made a very costly error. Ivan Rodriguez’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position and the tying run was knocked in by a Curtis Granderson ground out to second base.
With the winning run at third, Polanco stepped up to the plate already having collected 4 hits on the night. He was able to foul off a few Papelbon fastballs before shooting a broken bat single over the head of Lugo into left field for the game winning RBI.
“It tells you a lot about our team,” Polanco said. “We had some really tough at-bats against Papelbon to make something happen.”
The blown save was Papelbon’s first of the year, he had previously been 10 for 10 in save conversion opportunities.
“We didn’t get many breaks,” Papelbon said. “When they get little breaks like that, they’re going to make you pay for it.”
In tonight’s final game of the four game series, the Red Sox will send Josh Beckett to the mound to duel against Tiger’s ace Justin Verlander. Both are off to slow starts, Verlander especially who is currently 1-5 with a 6.28 ERA on the season. Beckett is coming off a strong 8 inning performance in which he picked up the win vs. Tampa Bay last week at Fenway. He is currently 3-2 on the year with a 4.19 ERA.
Boston will then travel to Minnesota for a four game series against the Twins, and wrap up the road trip with a quick two game stop in Baltimore to face off against the Orioles.
– Jacoby Ellsbury has successfully converted every stolen base attempt in his major league career. Last night he stole 2 bases to put him up to 13 on the season, and dating back to his debut last year he is a perfect 22-22 on stolen bases.
– After his two blasts in last nights game, Kevin Youkilis has now hit 7 career homeruns at Comerica Park, this is 5 more homeruns than he has hit at any other visiting stadium. The only other time Youkilis has had a multi-homerun game also came in Detroit back in Aug. of 2004.
– Alex Cora went 2-4 and scored a run in 7 innings of a rehab stint in Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday night.