Pick ‘Em! Sox Pull Even In Series With Gomes Blast

Kolten Wong was leaning just a tad too far to the right, intentions unknown, when Koji Uehara threw over to Mike Napoli at first. The throw was low – which is perfect for any pick-off attempt – and was dug out by Napoli, and the sliding Wong was toast at first base as Koji and Company celebrated a game four victory on the unlikeliest of plays. To make matters worse, the St. Louis Cardinals had Carlos Beltran at the plate, arguably this generations most feared postseason hitter who was representing the tying run. Wong was caught, however, and the Red Sox came away with the 4-2 victory.

As had been the story since the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox were looking anemic at the plate against a young power pitcher in Lance Lynn. The game was knotted at one-all with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz on base in the sixth. With two out, Jonny Gomes picked the perfect moment for his first hit of the World Series, as he crushed a 2-2 offering over the left field fence for the game-winning home run. Gomes had been 0-9 leading up to the at-bat, and was only inserted into the lineup at the last minute when Shane Victorino had to be pulled from the lineup due to back stiffness.

“During batting practice, when I met with Shane today, he said, ‘Yeah, put me in there. I’ll find a way to get ready to start the game,’ ” Farrell said. “As we went through the other work, it became obvious he wasn’t capable. And you know what? It turns out that his replacement is the difference in this one tonight.”

Much was made going into the game about the health of Clay Buchholz, whose velocity was noticeably lacking as he hovered at 88-90 MPH all night – picking his spots carefully against a very dangerous Cardinals lineup. Buchholz was off, but the Cardinals missed a lot of pitches up in the zone and the right-hander benefited from that. He would only pitch four innings, but he allowed just an unearned run as he gave the Sox was essentially amounted to an outstanding long-relief performance.

The Cardinals took the lead in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, second baseman Matt Carpenter singled to center that Jacoby Ellsbury bobbled, allowing Carpenter to reach scoring position as the ball trickled away from Ellsbury. Carlos Beltran singled Carpenter home two pitches later as Busch Stadium roared to life. It would be all St. Louis could muster against Clay, however, and the only lead they would know.

The Sox got on the board in the fifth – but like the Cards, they too would be frustrated by their inability to get more across the plate. Lynn had been gassing the Sox up until then, facing the minimum through four shutout innings. David Ortiz led off the fifth with a double, and Lynn proceeded to walk Gomes and Xander Bogaerts to load the bases with nobody out. Scuffling shortstop Stephen Drew came through with a sac fly as Ortiz barely beat the throw home by Matt Holliday to knot the score at 1-1. It would be all the Sox could muster as catcher David Ross struck out, and Mike Carp (pinch hitting for Buchholz) grounded out to end the threat.

Felix Doubront gave John Farrell 2 2/3 innings of solid relief to pitch the Sox into the seventh inning with the lead. After surrendering a two-out double to pinch-hitter Shane Robinson, Farrell called on struggling lefty Craig Breslow. His tough series continued, however as he allowed an RBI single to second baseman Matt Carpenter to score the inherited runner. He was finally lifted after walking Carlos Beltran on four pitches – finishing with a line of 0IP, 1H, 1BB.

The trio of Junichi Tazawa, John Lackey, and Koji Uehara made things interesting – as they were faced with the tying runner on base or at the plate in each of the final three innings. Tazawa cleaned up Breslow’s mess by throwing just two pitches and inducing Matt Holliday to ground out to end the seventh inning. Lackey – pitching on his side day – allowed a baserunner in the eighth after an errant throw by Bogaerts, and a wild pitch to get Yadier Molina to third. A Jon Jay infield pop-out and a ground out by David Freese ended the threat, however.

Lost in the game was the inability for injured Allen Craig to leg out a sure-thing double in the ninth inning. Craig has been limited in his NL stadium to pinch-hitting duty as he nurses a foot injury suffered in September. When Craig scalded a Uehara 1-1 offering to right and over Daniel Nava’s head, it looked like an easy two-bagger, but the hobbled star was limited to a long single as he was clearly in a lot of pain.

Kolten Wong pinch-ran for Craig, and the rest is history, quite literally as it was the first World Series game (or postseason game as far as any records show) to be decided on a pick-off throw. Sunday’s wacky ending came on the heels of Game three, which was the first Series game to be decided on an interference call, as Will Middlebrooks’ dive to come up with a Jarrod Saltalamacchia errant throw seemed (at least to the men in blue) to impede Craig’s path to home plate.

Mike Napoli celebrates over a dejected Kolten Wong after the latter was caught off first to end game four of the Series.

Mike Napoli celebrates over a dejected Kolten Wong after the latter was caught off first to end game four of the Series.

Game six will be Monday night, and the final home game for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013. The aces will battle again, with Jon Lester looking for his second victory after besting Adam Wainwright in game one. With the crazy endings of late, look for this one to end on a balk. Or a hidden ball trick. We’re far into this thing now to let it end on a traditional strikeout. Yawn.

“What’s going on inside here is pretty special, magical,” Gomes said following yet another heart-pounding game.

Inside the Game

-Jacoby Ellsbury committed just three errors in 134 games during the season, but committed his second in as many nights in the World Series – his latest costing Clay Buchholz an unearned run.

-David Ortiz went 3-3, and is now batting a paltry .727 (8-11) in the series.

-Before Gomes’ game-winning (and perhaps series-saving) home run, David Ortiz gathered his teammates around for a spirited looking pep-talk to spark his team. So what did he say to liven up the Sox bats? “I think we’re gonna leave that one in-house,” said hero Gomes.

-The game four win ensured the Red Sox will return home to decide the World Series. It will be the first World Series clinching opportunity at Fenway Park since October 22, 1975 in game seven against the Cincinnati Reds – a game the Sox led 3-0 going into the sixth inning, but ultimately lost 4-3.

Jay Coorey – Senior MLB Contributor – Title Town Sports

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