Though it would be unfair to ignore another poor start for Doug Fister, the Red Sox nevertheless pulled off another remarkable comeback on Monday to maintain a three-game lead in the division. The 10-8 win over the Orioles in 11 innings showed a club with a lot of grit and determination, but also one with flaws and growing signs of injury.
There’s no doubt Fister was squeezed by the bizarrely tight strike zone of home plate umpire Marty Foster, but that he couldn’t adjust wasn’t a great sign. In 212 career starts, Monday’s was one of the four shortest outings of Fister’s career. Over just 2.0 IP, Fister allowed five runs, all earned, on four hits with no strikeouts.
“Able to Swing Our Way Out Of It”
Mookie Betts drove in Brock Holt to get one back in the top of the fourth, but Orioles outfielder Adam Jones matched him, scoring Tim Beckham in the bottom half of the inning with a base hit to right field.
In the top of the fifth, however, Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy came unraveled. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Brock Holt chipped in for three Sox RBI then Andrew Benintendi and Betts had hits against Orioles relievers Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens for a 7-6 Boston lead.
Back and forth it would go. The Orioles took an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the fifth. In the seventh, Xander Bogaerts homered to tie things up. The game remained knotted until the 11th when Benintendi, with the bases loaded, two outs, and two strikes, struck for a bases-loaded single and a 10-8 Red Sox lead that Carson Smith ably saved with three consecutive ground ball outs.
Benintendi is now slashing .397 AVG/.533 OBP/.552 SLG on the season with two outs and runners in scoring position. It’s the top batting average and on-base percentage in the majors for players with at least 50 such at-bats this season.
As Manager John Farrell said after the game, despite the rough start, “we were able to swing our way out of it.”
Monday’s game included a tough injury for Dustin Pedroia when a batted ball bounced back to strike him right in the face. Pedroia, just back from the DL with knee issues, has been among the club’s best hitters, despite going 1-for-16 (.063) over his past four games. The club says he has a nasal contusion and lists him as day-to-day. Eduardo Núñez, who has provided a huge spark since coming to Boston at the trade deadline, is sidelined with a right knee sprain but hopeful to be back on the field for the next series in Cincinnati.
A few additional notes, now, about the significance of Monday’s Red Sox game:
- The come-from-behind win, the club’s 40th this season, kept the Sox three-games up in the division. At points throughout the game it seemed the Sox were destined to lose a game in the standings with the news that the Yankees had beaten the Twins, 2-1, earlier in the evening. It the Orioles’ 30th blown save of 2017.
- For the Red Sox it was yet-another extra-innings game, and yet-another such win. Boston is now a major-league best 14-3 in extra innings games.
- Boston’s 17 extra innings games this season is their most since playing in 21 such games in 2014. The club record since 1913 is 31 such games in 1943.
- Boston is one away from tying the club record since 1913 for wins in extra innings. Only the 1943 club had more such wins (15) than this year’s squad (14).
- Despite many match-ups with their division rivals, Boston had not played an extra-innings game against the Orioles since September 15, 2015.
- The previous extra-innings match ups between the Sox and Birds have heavily favored Baltimore. In the last 10 seasons, Boston is 4-13 in such games.
- Benintendi joined Sandy León and Mitch Moreland with two-out, two-strike extra innings hits this season. All of them have put the Sox in the lead of the game. The Sox are one of three major league teams with that many go-ahead hits (also the Orioles and the Rangers).
- Monday’s game was the second time this season the Sox have scored 10+ runs in an extra-innings game (also three days earlier at Tampa Bay). The only other team with multiple 10+ runs in extras this season are the Orioles. Boston is 2-0 in such games, Baltimore is 1-1. Prior to this season, Boston hadn’t reached double-digit runs in an extra innings game since August 26, 2014 against the Blue Jays (an 11-7 Red Sox win).