The Red Sox snatched victory from the jaws of defeat tonight, defeating the Rays 4-3 to stay one game behind the Yankees with a 24-17 record.
In the ninth inning, Boston was down to their last strike, with the bases loaded, and facing last year's out of nowhere phenom closer for the Rays -- Fernando Rodney. Rodney followed up a 100mph fastball with an 85mph change-up to Will Middlebrooks who jumped all over it and sent a line drive double to the wall that cleared the bases and gave the Sox the lead.
Junichi Tazawa who had also pitched a scoreless eighth, finished off the ninth to seal the win.
Situational hitting has been the bane of the Sox in their current sort-of slump. Their RISP has been atrocious, and tonight wasn't much better -- I think they were 2-8 on the night. But they got the clutch hit when it counted, much like last night's huge third inning. This was the idea behind the retooling of this team with so many character players and a manager who is on an even keel. Farrell has refused to panic and make wholesale changes to his line-up when they were struggling to manufacture runs. These last two games are the payoff I think.
It was nice to see a well played series between these two teams without all the acrimony that went on last season and some of the ones before. With any luck, I can watch these guys play each other the rest of the season and be able to enjoy some good baseball. I'll hope the Sox win, but unless Boston's going for a playoff spot, I won't cry if the Rays come out on top.