After dropping 2 out of 3 to Baltimore, the Red Sox needed a win. Being only one game up on the O’s, they could not afford to lose Thursday night and risk forfeiting sole possession of first place. It became official in the 9th inning of the Sox game that the Rays had defeated the O’s, which would’ve made another Red Sox loss even more insufferable. As far as what happened before the 9th inning: E-Rod only lasted 2 ⅓ innings, the Sox bullpen continued to shine, Tanaka spun another gem, and David Ortiz passed Mickey Mantle on the all-time home run list. But let’s focus on the bottom of the 9th.
With a 5-2 lead and Jackie Bradley Jr. due up first, the Yankees sent former Red Sox lefty Tommy Layne out there to start the inning. John Farrell decided to take the bat out of JBJ’s hands and give it to Aaron Hill. Despite Hill batting under .200 over his last 15 games, Farrell opted to take his chances with the righty coming off the bench. As every Sox fan watching expected, Hill stepped in the batter's box and struck out. Shocker. Once the Sox revealed that they intended to pinch hit lefty killer Chris Young for Andrew Benintendi, the Yankees made a call to the bullpen. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but this was the start of something special.
Chris Young was able to take first base after being hit in the head with a breaking ball. One baserunner may not seem like much, but this set the stage for the Sox 5 run rally. Following RBI singles by David Ortiz and Mookie Betts later in the inning that made it a 1 run game, Hanley Ramirez came to the plate. Hanley was able to work the count to 3-1 and sit on a fastball, and a fastball is exactly what he got. 99 miles per hour right down broadway and Hanley did not miss it. Hanley crushed the ball 400+ feet to dead center field clinching a Red Sox win and handing Betances a loss and a blown save. Despite the fact that it came down to one big swing of the bat, this was definitely the Red Sox biggest win of the reason.
Saying that Hanley Ramirez is having a Rick Porcello season might be a bit of an overstatement. He’s not in the MVP or gold glove conversations. However, to say that he isn’t a completely different player than he was last year would just be plain wrong. When Hanley has swung the bat well, he’s been as productive as any hitter in this lineup. Ramirez is batting .284 (35 points higher than last year), has already hit 25 home runs (6 more than last year), and driven in 100 runs (47 MORE THAN LAST YEAR). I’m not sure if it were the change in position or maybe a change in attitude, but Hanley has been the player that Ben CHerington thought he’d signed in the 2014-2015 offseason. He doesn’t get nearly enough love for how much he means to this offense. Congrats on 100 RBI’s HanRam. Enjoy it for now, but I was to see you back out there tomorrow driving in number 101 and 102. Don’t let me down.
David Ortiz hit a solo home run in the 8th inning, officially passing Mickey Mantle for sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list. Every time Big Papi does something these days, it seems as though he’s joining historic company in one way or another. Ortiz went 3 for 4 on Thursday with 3 RBI’s keeping the Red Sox in the game until Hanley took it into his own hands to say game over. We are now within a month of David playing his final regular season game, so we need to appreciate games like these while they last. We’re not always going to have Ortiz sitting around just waiting to save the game for us.
Against all odds, the Boston Red Sox are now 2 games up in the AL East. Hopefully this game can provide some momentum for the team moving forward. With Clay Buchholz scheduled to take the mound on Friday night, we don’t really know what we’re going to get. Maybe Clay blows up and the offense keeps rolling, Maybe Clay shuts the Yankees down and the offense forgets how to hit again. We’re officially watching September baseball. This is where seasons are won and lost. And it’s games like Thursday’s that are going to help push the Red Sox into October.