Bosox ride Napoli’s two home runs to 60th win

Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli

The Boston Red Sox gift wrapped two early runs for birthday boy C.C. Sabathia and the New York Yankees Sunday night. Then Mike Napoli crashed the party. Not once, but twice in powering Boston over New York 8-7 in 11 innings.

New York combined first-inning singles by Brent Gardner and Vernon Wells, along with a walk to Lyle Overbay and throwing errors by Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster and catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia to stake Sabathia to a 2-0 lead on the night the Yankee’s portly pitcher celebrated his 33rds birthday. New York stretched its lead to 3-0 in the top of the second when Robinson Cano singled home Chris Stewart. Then Mike Napoli blew out Sabathia’s birthday candles in the bottom of Boston’s third inning with a three-run homer, part of a Red Sox four-run outburst.

Jacoby Ellsbury jump started the Boston third with a lead off double and moved to third on Shane Victorino’s sacrifice. Dustin Pedroia singled in Ellsbury for Boston’s first run, and was followed by a single from David Ortiz, setting the table for Napoli’s 12th home run of the season, pushing Boston in front 4-3. Boston increased its lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth when Stephen Drew reached after being hit by a Sabathia pitch, Jose Iglesias followed with a perfectly executed bunt past Sabathia, and Dustin Pedroia loaded the bases with a single. Shane Victorino sliced a two run single to chase home a pair of Boston runs.
The Red Sox added another tally in the fifth inning when Jonny Gomes blasted his eighth home run of the year into the light stanchion above the Green Monster to make it 7-3. Gomes home run represented to 23rd of the year given up by Sabathia, a career high for him.

The Yankee wore down Dempster in the sixth inning, scoring a pair of run on RBI singles from Brent Gardner and Robinson Cano to make it 7-5 and chase the Boston starter after 5-and-one-third innings. Boston did the same to Sabathia in the top of the sixth when Ellsbury earned a walk off the Yank’s starter and was pulled for reliever Preston Claiborne. Ellsbury stole his league-leading 37th base in the inning, and surprising David Ortiz stole his fourth of the season, but both were stranded when Claiborne got Napoli to strike out to close down the Boston threat. The two stolen bases pushed Boston’s team total to 75 on the year, tops in all of major league baseball.
New York made it a brand new ball game by rallying for a pair of runs to tie the score at 7-7 in the top of the seventh inning. Vernon Wells and Eduardo Nunez both scored thanks to the combination of a third throwing error by Boston, this time Iglesias on a bunt attempt by Chris Stewart, along with a fielder’s choice by Luis Cruz. Junichi Tazawa was called up to put out the New York fire with a runner at third and wound up walking Brent Gardner on a 15-pitch duel between the two before getting Ichiro Suzuki to ground back to the box for the third out with the game tied.

Newly acquired reliever Craig Thorton made quick work of the Yankees in the eighth, striking out Cano and Overbay and getting Vernon Wells on a ground out to shortstop to set up Boston in the bottom of the eighth. Boston managed to load the bases with two outs but Yankee reliever David Robinson got Napoli to tap into a tailor made 6-4-3 ground out to end Boston’s threat.
Both teams turned in excellent bullpen efforts and the game remained tied at 7-7 until the bottom of the 11th, when Napoli struck again. With two outs and facing Yankee reliever Adam Warren, Napoli drilled his 13th home run of the year to deep center field to make Boston 8-7 winners over the Yankees.

The victory gave Boston a 2-1 series edge over the Yankees and dropped New York 7 full games behind the division-leading Red Sox.
The win marked the 60th of the season for the Red Sox, the first team to win 60 games on the year in all of baseball and helped Boston maintain its 1.5 game lead over torrid Tampa Bay in the A.L. East. Napoli’s walk-off home run also illustrated a world of difference between this year’s Red Sox and last year’s. At 100 games this season, Boston owns a 60-40 mark and a 1.5 game division lead. At 100 games last season, the Red Sox were buried 11.5 games back in the A.L. East.

With the Yankees series complete, the Red Sox now turn their attention to another A.L. East rival, the red hot Tampa Bay Rays, 9-1 in their last 10 games. Tampa visits Fenway Monday to begin a critical four-game divisional series between the two teams which will feature a battle of 24-year olds.

The Rays will send standout lefty sensation Matt Moore to the mound. Moore comes in at 13-3 on the season and was selected as the 2011 Minor League Player of the Year before making his mark in the bigs. Boston will counter with their own 24-year old thrower, Brandon Workman (0-0) with a 5.40 ERA in just 8-and one-third innings of major league work. Workman’s stats are deceptive. His first major league appearance was in a relief roll where he was rocked. He got his first major league start on July 14 and responded with 6-and-one-third innings of no-hit ball earning a no-decision.


Categories: A-AMERICAN LEAGUE, American League Happenings

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