BOSTON -- After a seven-game road trip filled with close games and late-inning heroics, it was only fitting for the Red Sox to return home on Friday night doing the same in grand style.
Following a two-run top of the seventh inning for the Yankees that tied the score at 4, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a grand slam, his first since May 2009, to put the Red Sox on top for good in their eventual 8-4 win.
“I was really just trying to get a good pitch to hit in the air,” Saltalamacchia said. “I just needed to get a strike up in the zone to do something with.”
Facing reliever Preston Claiborne, who hadn’t pitched since allowing six runs to Boston in two-thirds of an inning between two appearances September 5 and 6, Saltalamacchia took a 92 mph fastball over the plate to deep right for the team’s eighth grand slam this year, and fourth since the start of September. Each of Boston’s four September slams have been hit by a different player (Mike Carp on Sept. 11, Mike Napoli on Sept. 6, Will Middlebrooks on Sept. 4).
“That’s what is making this season fun,” designated hitter David Ortiz said. “You’re not talking [about] a team that depends on one guy ... we have plenty of guys doing their thing out there.”
The Red Sox established a lead early, scoring four in the first inning. But Boston starter John Lackey ran into trouble in the top of the seventh. After he allowed back-to-back singles to the bottom of the Yankees order, manager John Farrell pulled Lackey in favor of his bullpen, a group that has allowed the game-tying or winning run to score after the sixth inning in three of their last four games.
“I thought he had done his job,” Farrell said of his decision to pull Lackey after only 82-pitches. “I felt like that was the move at the time.”
The move backfired as reliever Craig Breslow loaded the bases on an Alex Rodriguez walk before yielding a two-run double to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. Brandon Workman came in to retire Alfonso Soriano, turning things over to what became yet another Red Sox offensive rally following a bullpen falter.
“We’ve got the ability to show the resiliency,” Farrell said. “They score the two [runs] to tie it, and then we build the inning obviously prior to Salty’s grand slam. We’re getting big hits and it’s been spread around.”