Ellsbury’s walk-off single beats Yankees

The reeling Red Sox, which appear headed for their first last place finish in the American League East since 1992, showed they have a pulse for the first time in September.

After starting the month 1-7 and fresh off a sweep at the hands of the Toronto, the Red Sox sprouted to life on Tuesday when Jacoby Ellsbury celebrated his 29th birthday with a walk-off single against David Robertson. Ellsbury’s base hit plated Pedro Ciriaco, who singled to open the inning and continued his role as a 2012 Yankees’ killer.

Ellsbury was 4-for-5 with a double, a stolen base, a run and two RBI. Ciriaco added a double, a single and two runs while Dustin Pedroia was 3-for-4 with two RBI and his 15th home run of the season.

Jon Lester, who has justifiably received extensive criticism for his inability to perform like a frontline starter in 2012, was erratic but allowed three runs and five hits over 5.1 innings, walking seven and striking out five. Junichi Tazawa (1.2 innings), Craig Breslow (one inning) and Andrew Bailey (one inning) held the Yankees scoreless. Bailey earned the win, his first in a Red Sox uniform.

Lester entered the Red Sox record books when he whiffed Steven Pearce to end the fifth inning. It was strikeout No. 1,044, which catapulted Lester past Bruce Hurst as the team’s leader in strikeouts among left-handed pitchers.

The Yankees, which have struggled in recent weeks and have a rotation that even at its best is not ideal for post-season competition, returned to a first place tie with Baltimore in the American League East at 79-62.

For the Red Sox – which will welcome the merciful end to a season plagued by a rash of injuries to key players; and an off-the-field circus created by manager Bobby Valentine, selected players and the Boston media – the remaining games with the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays give them a chance to regain a sense of pride heading into the long off-season.

The games give Ellsbury a chance to start rebuilding his value, Pedroia an opportunity to regain confidence from Red Sox fans who have been disgruntled with his attitude this season and Lester the ability to at least finish the year with a .500 record.

The games also provide young players like Ryan Lavarnway, Ryan Kalish, Pedro Ciriaco and Jose Iglesias valuable Major League time as they prepare to make the team out of spring training in 2013.

Most importantly, beating the Yankees and the Rays gives Boston a chance to send their two most heated rivals home and out of the playoffs when the regular season ends. Because of Baltimore’s hot streak – and teams like the A’s and Angels playing well enough to claim the wild card spots – the Yankees and Rays are in a fight to reach the postseason, and the Red Sox would like nothing better to play a role in ruining their planned October fun.

By Jeff Louderback
Tuesday, 11 Sep 2012


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