For a second consecutive night the Boston Red Sox went extra innings with the Philadelphia Phillies at Fenway Park, and both extended games resulted in victories for Boston, with Andrew Benintendi playing the hero last night at the plate and in the field.
Benintendi's RBI walk-off double in the bottom of the 12th inning gave the Red Sox a 4-3 win over Philly, and the rookie made sure the game was still tied by nailing Howie Kendrik at the plate in the eighth inning on a pea of a throw right to catcher Christian Vazquez from left field after Maikel Franco drove a shot high off the Green Monster, a ball that missed being a home run by inches and would have been gone in any other park. The ball caromed off the wall and away from Benintendi as Kenrik raced around from first, but Benintendi gathered it up and slung a beautiful throw to home to keep the game tied at two, allowing for his heroics in extras.
This game also marked the home debut for David Price, just his third start of the year overall after missing the first two months with elbow soreness, and Price pitched pretty well as he tries to regain his power pitcher status. He did walk four but gave up just four hits over six innings, his one mistake a 2-run homer to Aaron Alther, but if Price can get command of his stuff back in order he may yet become that solid number two starter the Sox need to have behind Chris Sale. Fernando Abad gets a nod, too, pitching two scoreless innings in extras while the Red Sox offense sputtered with runners in scoring position, going just two for twelve in that capacity.
One bright spot at the plate besides Benintendi's game winner, though, has been Mitch Moreland, arguably the Red Sox best hitter this season. The first baseman smacked his 9th homer of the year last night, and third in his last 8 games, and just missed another in the 12th, instead settling for a long single off the Monster that put Xander Bogaerts on third before Benintendi sent him home with the walk-off. Ben Lively pitched seven solid innings for the hard-luck Phillies, who have now lost seven in a row.
The Red Sox picked up a game in the standings on the first place NY Yankees, who also played extra baseball, losing in 11 innings 3-2 to the LA Angels when Eric Young Jr. Young hit an infield single off the leg of reliever Ben Heller with two outs for the hard-way walk off. Young had also tied the game with a solo home run off Tyler Clippard in the 8th. The bigger blow for the Yankees, though, may be the loss of starter CC Sabathia, who's been terrific for the Yankees this year and had won his last five starts. But he pulled a hamstring last night and had to come out of the game. Manager Joe Girardi speculated that Sabathia may have to spend some time on the disabled list but the big lefty was more hopeful, wondering if he may feel a little better when he wakes up this morning. Either way the loss snaps the Yankees' six game winning streak, and allows the Red Sox to creep within three games of the division leaders.
The NY Mets four game winning streak is over, ending essentially in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs last night. The Cubs scored seven times in the second inning as part of their 14-3 rout of the Mets. The Cubbies have been slumping of late, losers of five of six and nine in a row away from Wrigley, so manager Joe Maddon tried to shake things up by putting hulking first baseman Anthony Rizzo into the lead off spot, unusual for sure given that Rizzo is no speed demon on the base paths, which is how a lead-off hitter normally profiles, but the move worked as Rizzo homered and went two for three including a bases loaded walk to drive in a run. Rookie Ian Happ also got in on the action, hitting his first career grand slam. Zack Wheeler took the loss for the Mets, Jon Lester the win for Chicago as he evens his record at 4-4.
The Toronto Blue Jays looked like they were turning things around after a successful road trip last week but have slid back recently, suffering another loss 8-1 last night to the climbing in the standings Tampa Bay Rays. Rookie pitcher Jake Faria won his second straight start, just the third pitcher in Rays history to win his first two career starts. He held the Blue Jays to six hits over six and third while striking out 8, and the Rays have jumped over the Baltimore Orioles into third place in the American League east, while Toronto remains in last place, eight game behind the first place Yankees.
In the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a great start by the Vermont Mountaineers' Jared Skolnicki was wasted in a 9-4 loss to the Upper Valley Nighthawks at Recreational Field last night. Skolnicki went seven innings and giving up just one run on five hits, but the bullpen couldn't hold the lead as the Nighthawks scored eight times in the eighth to pull away for the win.