Wednesday, August 7, 2013
These Sox don't stay down for long
By Jordan Godwin, Special to ESPNBoston.com
HOUSTON -- The Red Sox locker room after Tuesday night’s game was practically the opposite of Monday night’s.
Players joked with each other, had conversations, watched television, and David Ortiz even sang.
Following the 15-10 victory, it was a staggering difference from Monday night’s setting, which was like a funeral home, and rightfully so.
No one felt like smiling about Monday night’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros, who own the worst record in baseball.
The Red Sox came into Houston knowing that any loss could affect the playoff race. While it might still be too early to call a game a “must win,” any matchup against a team approaching 40 games below .500 could probably qualify as a “can’t lose.”
Trailing 5-0 by the end of the second inning, the Red Sox finally decided to fight back in the third.
The Red Sox began to open the floodgates in the fifth inning on doubles from Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway’s two-run double gave the Red Sox an 8-7 lead, and they never looked back.
In the sixth, Jonny Gomes launched his fourth pinch-hit homer of the season, the most for a Red Sox hitter since 1953, one shy of Joe Cronin’s record of five in 1943. As a team, the Red Sox have hit six pinch-hit homers this season, one shy of the record set in 1953.
“It’s pretty cool to share history with someone in the record books, especially when it’s on the positive side,” Gomes said. “The season’s not over yet, so hopefully, I can get another one.”
The Red Sox scored five or more runs in consecutive innings for the first time since Sept. 10, 2004.
Jacoby Ellsbury got the Red Sox going with a two-run homer in the third inning and added a solo shot in the seventh.
Ellsbury would add a second home run, a solo shot in the seventh.
The five-run deficit was the second-largest of the season the Red Sox have overcome in a win, second only to the six-run hole they erased to defeat Seattle last Thursday. The Red Sox notched their 26th come-from-behind win of the season.
“That tells you that this is a team where it doesn’t matter the situation at the beginning,” Ortiz said. “We’re going to fight through it, come back and make things happen in the end.”
Gomes said the team is beginning to develop a reputation that typically comes in handy in the postseason.
“This team has done a great job of erasing some of the negative things that can happen early on in the game,” Gomes said. “When someone is down on this team, everyone realizes that we need to get the monkey off his back, and we’ll take the load.”
With that mantra, the Red Sox matched their 2012 win total of 69 victories, with 47 games remaining.
First-year Red Sox manager John Farrell humbly downplayed the milestone.
“I hope we pass last year,” Farrell said with a grin.
Farrell deferred most of the credit to general manager Ben Cherington.
“It starts with Ben,” Farrell said. “It was a clear vision on his part to go out and bring in talented players that have strong teammate reputations. They love to work, and they love to compete. The game tonight is the most important thing to them, and tomorrow will be the same way with their approach.
“Day by day, it’s been a turnaround, but still, there’s a long way to go.”
While Farrell was pleased with the offensive outburst -- which was the second-highest run output of the season -- he also spoke highly of his pitchers.
Although the Red Sox allowed 10 runs and 11 hits, Farrell praised the scrappy effort.
Knuckleballer Steven Wright struggled in the first start of his career, but Farrell said that had more to do with the environment than anything that was in Wright’s control.
“When you get inside a dome, there’s going to be extra movement to it, which is something he’s not familiar enough with to make any kind of adjustment,” Farrell said. “It was a tough inning for he and Lavarnway both, and we felt like, given the conditions, we needed to make a move at that point.”
Lavarnway became the third catcher in major league history to allow four passed balls in an inning. Wright was pulled after walking two, hitting one and allowing one hit and three runs for a rough start.
“It was moving more than I think I’ve ever had it in my life, so it’s a learning experience,” Wright said. “I’m disappointed in my efforts because I feel like I should be able to help save the bullpen. That’s the whole goal of your day, and I wasn’t able to do that.”
Brandon Workman pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win, despite allowing nine hits and six runs.
“They swung the bat pretty well against him, but thankfully, the offense continued to produce for us,” Farrell said. “He gave us what we needed.”