It’s hard to describe just how badly the Red Sox needed the kind of improbable comeback win that they got on Sunday afternoon in Anaheim. After all the recent talk about how they’ve failed to come through in late-game clutch situations this season, they put together a miracle ninth inning in which they scored five runs to overcome a 3-0 deficit and steal a win on the road.
The complaints about the Sox’ inability to produce in big moments were and are completely justified. Coming into Sunday, they were 3-37 this year when trailing after the seventh inning. So when they entered the ninth trailing by three runs and facing a shutout, there wasn’t much reason to believe that we were in for a miracle finish.
Then Jackie Bradley Jr. started off the inning with a walk. Everyone knows that every great ninth inning comeback starts with a leadoff walk, so maybe there was a glimmer of hope. But not really because it was 3-0 and the Sox were 3-37 when trailing after the seventh.
Then Aaron Hill singled on a line drive to center. First and second with no outs. Encouraging, but still nothing to get excited about.
When Ryan Hanigan and Brock Holt went down on back-to-back strikeouts, the game was over. Figuratively.
Mookie Betts prolonged the loss with a two-out RBI single, driving in JBJ and making it a 3-1 game. It was happening again. The Sox had put themselves in another perfect position to create some ninth inning magic, thus raising our hopes and setting us up for disappointment for what felt like the hundredth time this season.
Having just gone for a run in a local park by my house, I was sitting in the car listening to the ninth inning on WEEI. There was an older gentleman who looked to be in his 70’s, sitting in the parking lot on the trunk of his car, holding a transistor radio. I wondered if he was listening to the Sox too.
The moment that Dustin Pedroia brought the game back to life by drilling a 1-0 pitch for the biggest regular season hit of his historic Red Sox career, I pumped my fist and yelled in excitement. I looked over at the guy with the transistor radio and he was laughing his ass off. I rolled my window down and yelled over to him. “Are you listening to the game?”, I said. He yelled back in excitement, “Yeah!! Unbelievable!! These guys drive me crazy!!”
I couldn’t agree more:
Down to the last out?
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 31, 2016
After Pedey went yard, I decided I would rush home and try to catch the end of the game. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I waved to the man and he waved back with a big smile on his face. “Go Sox!”, I yelled out the window.
About 10 seconds later, as I was departing down the long dirt road that connects this hidden park to the rest of civilization, Tim Neverett’s voice started booming through the speakers once again as Xander Bogaerts ripped an 0-2 pitch over the wall:
And there you have it. A five run ninth inning to cap off what is the definition of a momentum-building win. Of course they could come out Monday and get rocked, but it’s highly unlikely. All they needed was a win like this to show themselves that they are fully capable of putting together a ninth inning rally every now and then. Hopefully they have a few more to spare in August and September because we know they’ll need them.
The bad news is that Steven Wright’s struggles continued. He gave up three runs on 10 hits in five innings of work. Clay Buchholz, however, had his best relief appearance of the season. He pitched three scoreless innings and earned the win.
The Sox are still in third place in the AL East but are just 1.5 games behind the first place Orioles. They take on the Mariners in Seattle on Monday 10:10 PM. So for all of you who love watching baseball until 1:30 in the morning on a Monday night, this is your time.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour
Photo Credit: Ryan Kang/AP Photo via dailyrecordnews.com