For ten plus innings on Wednesday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox offense could muster only one hit — a two out, ground-rule double by Daniel Nava in the fifth inning — against a quartet of Minnesota Twins pitchers. Yet despite that futility, all they needed were two swings from David Ortiz and Mike Napoli in back-to-back plate appearances to pull off a 2-1 victory and complete a unqiue three-game sweep at Fenway Park.
After Minnesota finally broke though and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the tenth inning on Chris Parmalee's solo home run, Ortiz and Napoli responded in the bottom half by hitting back-to-back solo home runs to tie it and then win it.
It was a thrilling and even historic finish. One that sent a crowd of 36,489 fans home happy after what to that point had been a long and frustrating afternoon. But it was all made possible by the incredible effort of Boston starter John Lackey. Lackey walked one, allowed just three singles and struck out nine over nine dominant innings. An outing that most days would equal a victory, especially with Boston's potent lineup behind him, but on Wednesday only served to keep them alive.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson was just as dominant, throwing seven scoreless innings for the third consecutive outing. Relievers Brian Duensing and Jared Burton picked up the next six outs to get Minnesota to extra innings. Unfortunately, Casey Fien, who was filling in for closer Glenn Perkins after he was made unavailable with back soreness, picked that time to allow only his second and third home runs of the season. To that point, he'd only allowed one in 112 plate appearances.
In the first inning, Abreu connected for a two-run home run, giving him 20 on the season. In doing so, he became the fastest player in White Sox history to reach 20 homers, achieving it in only his 58th game. He's also the third fastest player in major league history to hit 20 homers behind Wally Berger (51 games) and Mark McGwire (56 games). Not bad for a rookie.
Adam Dunn later added a three-run shot that gave Chicago a comfortable cushion with Chris Sale on the hill. However, the Giants kept battling, scoring three off Sale in six innings and then three more off Chicago's bullpen. But it wasn't enough as they lost their fifth in a row and eighth in their past nine games.
San Francisco's lead in the NL West is down to four thanks to Clayton Kershaw's no-hitter on Wednesday night.
JAYS STILL NOT WELCOME IN BRONX: The Toronto Blue Jays are playing good baseball just about everywhere this season, but Yankee Stadium is not one of those places. In fact, the Blue Jays haven't been able to buy a win there for nearly two years, and that continued on Wednesday even with Mark Buehrle on the mound as they dropped their 15th straight game in the Bronx, 7-3 to the second place New York Yankees.
It was a troubling game for Toronto because their struggles in New York continued. It was also troubling because one of New York's big offseason acquistions, Brian McCann, had yet to gain traction this season offensively. However, he broke out on Wednesday with a bases-clearing triple and a season-high five RBIs overall.
''It was about time I chipped in, and tonight was a good night to do that,'' McCann said. ''It was just nice to contribute - on the offensive side for a change.''
A sleeping giant maybe aware, which isn't good news for Toronto.
More bad news: With the win, New York moves to 2 1/2 games back in the AL East.
Baltimore Orioles are only three games back after shutting out the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 on Wednesday. Rookie starter Kevin Gausman did the heavy lifting, pitching six scoreless innings. He allowed five hits while striking out five. Relievers Tommy Hunter and Zach Britton combined to record the final nine outs without allowing a baserunner.O'S MOVING IN: Speaking of the AL East, the
What little margin for error Baltimore's pitchers had to work with came courtesy of Steve Pearce and Nelson Cruz. Pearce doubled home the first run in fifth. Nelson Cruz added a solo homer in the eight —his MLB leading 22nd of the season.
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