Boston Red Sox's Faint 2010 Playoff Hopes Crushed by Yankees in Extra Innings
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It was a good run...right?
The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 4-3 in extra innings last night, a game that featured late inning dramatics from both sides.
The Yankees had a 3-2 lead going into the top of the ninth inning with Mariano Rivera on the hill.
Yet the resilient Sox would not go away. Ryan Kalish singled with one out, stole second, stole third, and scored on a Bill Hall single.
Mike Lowell would pinch-hit for Lars Anderson, and Hall followed the same suit as Kalish. He stole second and third, and with still just one out, Lowell hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field to bring the go-ahead run across the plate.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they could not hold the lead.
With Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound, Nick Swisher singled to right with one out in the bottom of the ninth and was immediately pinch-run for by Eduardo Nunez.
Mark Teixeira, up next, singled again to right, pushing the runners to first and second.
Nunez would then proceed to steal third, and with a 3-2 count, Ramiro Pena pinch-ran for Teixeira at first.
Alex Rodriguez walked, loading the bases for Yankee MVP Robinson Cano.
Cano singled to right yet again for the Yankees, scoring Nunez, but a great throw from Red Sox right fielder Josh Reddick held the winning run at third.
Papelbon managed to keep the scoring at that. He got Jorge Posada to strike out swinging and Lance Berkman to fly out to right to end the inning.
Papelbon's performance, in a season where he struggled to locate the ball consistently, was marred by a few blatantly missed strike calls that would've retired Rodriguez and possibly allowed the Red Sox to escape from the Bronx with a sweep.
In home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi's defense, however, the conditions by that time were less than perfect, with the rain and wind mixing for what must have been low visibility at best.
Even Mother Nature was against them, it seems.
The bottom of the 10th was set up when Curtis Granderson led off the inning with a single and was advanced to third on a bunt single by Brett Gardner and throwing error by Victor Martinez. Two Hideki Okajima walks later, the Yankees had scored the winning run.
The Red Sox got a dazzling performance from the inconsistent Daisuke Matsuzaka in what was perhaps his best start of the year. He pitched eight full innings, allowing only two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and just one walk.
Fate was cruel last night, and the Sox weren't able to put together a victory despite Matsuzaka's gem.
The win put the Yankees' magic number at one. Essentially, the Yankees would have to lose the rest of their games while the Red Sox win the rest of their games just to force a one-game playoff for the wild card.
All in all, the game was a microcosm of the Red Sox season. It had everything that constantly tormented Boston fans throughout 2010. Papelbon blew his career-high eighth save of the season, they failed to win yet another extra-inning game, and they seemed to never get the pitching and offense to show up together, a problem that became evident especially during the second half.
Really, though, the Red Sox had no business thinking they could possibly make a September push. Injuries and inconsistency saw to that fairly early in the season.
Winter comes early this year in New England.
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