Despite Napoli Heroics, Blue Jays Recover to Down Sox, 4-3

Mike Napoli attempted to play hero Wednesday night as his two-out, two-run shot in the ninth tied the game at three, and for the moment alleviated any of his recent misgivings at the plate.  An inning later, his home run was but a footnote in an exciting extra inning affair that saw the Blue Jays walk off with a 4-3 victory when a Brett Lawrie single sailed past Stephen Drew’s glove as Rajai Davis raced home for the game winning run.

Mike Napoli, marred in a second half slump, would get revenge for this broken bat with his ninth inning, game-tying homer.

Mike Napoli, marred in a second half slump, would get revenge for this broken bat with his ninth inning, game-tying homer.

Jon Lester had left the game after 6 1/3 innings of solid pitching as Brandon Workman got the call to keep the deficit at two runs.  Workman pitched well over his first two innings of relief before finally succumbing in the tenth to the Jays offense. On the Jays side, journeyman Esmil Rogers again stifled the Sox bats (after a six inning shutout performance in June in a no-decision at Fenway) with six dazzling innings, only allowing a solo home run to David Ortiz in the sixth.

Napoli was bumped to seventh in the Sox order after a particularly rough stretch saw him go 0-12 with nine strikeouts, and ultimately came through when the Sox needed him most.  Entering the ninth trailing 3-1, David Ortiz attempted to catch the Jays napping with a bunt attempt that turned into the first out when catcher J.P. Arencibia threw him out.  Following a Jonny Gomes walk, Stephen Drew struck out swinging against Jays reliever Brett Cecil.  Napoli took a 1-0 pitch on the outer half of the plate to the opposite field for his 15th long-ball as the Sox again attempted to defy the doubters with more late inning magic.

After the Sox loaded the bases on a double, hit by pitch, and infield hit, the Jays called on Brad Lincoln to stop the bleeding.  The move paid off, as Shane Victorino flied out to left to end the inning. Lincoln would go on to earn the victory with 1 1/3 scoreless as the Sox never recaptured their ninth inning magic.

Rajai Davis led off the tenth with a double to center on a 1-2 pitch, and moved to third after Jose Bautista grounded out.  Following an intentional walk to Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie poked an infield hit to short to bring home Davis.  With the loss coupled with a Tampa Bay victory over the Mariners, the Sox lead in the AL East dropped to three games, which could have been even less considering the Sox have now dropped four of six.

Jake Peavy will try to emulate his Red Sox debut (and not his dreadful second outing) when he gets the ball Thursday night against struggling lefty Mark Buehrle.

Jay Coorey – Senior MLB Contributer – Title Town Sports

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