Walk-Off Error Caps Sox Series Win Over Blue Jays

A back and forth game came to a halt in the ninth inning as Shane Victorino’s grounder ate up Blue Jays first baseman Josh Thole to score Jonathan Diaz, and give the Red Sox an exciting 5-4 win at Fenway.  The Sox win gave them three of four over the hot Blue Jays, and reaffirm their momentum in the AL East – a momentum that had been slipping away with recent road slides in Baltimore and Detroit.

“I think a lot of people doubted this team, the capabilities that we had,” Victorino said following the dramatic victory. “We’ve got that target on our back because we’re in first place. But you know what? We’re up for the challenge.”

Ryan Dempster failed in his bid for his seventh straight quality start, but was able to get out of most jams as he labored through 5 1/3 innings while allowing seven hits and three walks, but allowed just two runs to keep the Red Sox in the game.

The offense staked Dempster to an early three run cushion thanks to three runs in the second inning. Blue Jays veteran Mark Buerhle was off early, as he allowed the first three batters to reach in the inning after back-to-back singles by Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava and an RBI ground-rule double by Ryan Lavarnway. Two batters later, rookie third baseman Brandon Snyder lined a double into the left-field gap that scored Nava and Lavranway for the 3-0 advantage.

A consistent three innings for Dempster came to an end in a laborious fourth inning as he needed 32 pitches to complete the inning. The Jays got an RBI single by Colby Rasmus and a run scoring groundout by Maicer Izturis to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Jonny Gomes came up big in the fifth with two outs when he smashed a wall-ball double to bring in Jacoby Ellsbury with Boston’s fourth run.

Toronto’s best chance to take command of the game was in the sixth when they were able to load the bases with nobody out. Dempster was then able to induce a pop-out to short to J.P. Arencibia, and was then relieved by Craig Breslow. The Sox lefty was then able to copy that feat as Izturis likewise popped to short, and struck out pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio to impressively smolder the rally.

The Jays got to the Sox bullpen for a second straight night as Jose Reyes slugged his first homer since his return from the DL (and second overall) in the seventh off Breslow to pull the Jays within one. In the ninth, Koji Uehara blew his first save of the year when he allowed a one-out home run to Jose Bautista to knot the score at four, and set up the drama in the home half.

With one out, Snyder and Ellsbury reached on a single and walk, respectively, that brought up Victorino. On an 0-1 pitch, Victorino chopped a grounder to the right side that Thole – playing just his second game at first in over 300 career Major League games – looked to have a play on.  Thole, however, allowed the ball to eat him up as pinch-runner Diaz raced home with the winning run, as Victorino got mobbed by teammates.

Shane Victorino's jersey hangs in tattered strips as he is congratulated by manager John Farrell following the walk-off error.

Shane Victorino’s jersey hangs in tattered strips as he is congratulated by manager John Farrell following the walk-off error.

Sox manager John Farrell was happy with the effort, but quick to ground any people saving money for their World Series tickets. “We’ve been consistent,” Farrell said. “I think it speaks of overall depth of the team. It’s certainly not a milestone by any means. We’ve got a long way to go.”

The Red Sox have Monday off before the San Diego Padres come to Boston to begin a three-game set on Tuesday.  John Lackey will tote his ace-stuff to the hill for the Sox, as he looks to climb over .500 for the first time this season.

Inside The Game

-The Red Sox are now 50-34, and eight games ahead of last seasons 42-42 start. The Sox have won 50 games by the end of June for just the fourth time in club history, the last time achieving the feat in 2008.

-Despite hitting .218 on the year, Jonny Gomes continues to come through with runners in scoring position as heis 10-29 (.349).  The numbers only go up with two outs – 6-15 (.400)

-After a franchise record-tying 11 game winning streak, the Blue Jays have now lost five of seven to end June to fall back to 8 1/2 games behind Boston.

Jay Coorey – Senior MLB Contributor – Title Town Sports


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