Hollywood couldn’t write better scripts. Day in and day out, the Boston Red Sox come up with some of the zaniest ways to win ball games. Last night’s extra-inning Mike Carp pinch-hit grand slam was just another chapter in this incredible season. The Sox now have a 9.5 game lead in the AL East and, ironically, have helped the Yankees get within one game of the second Wild Card spot by beating up on the Tampa Bay Rays. Man, that scoreboard operator in Tampa has been busy this series, don't ya think?
Boston (89-58) attempts to sweep the Rays (78-66) tonight, earn their 90th win over the season and lower their Magic Number to clinch the East Division down to six. The Sox have a good shot at doing so with Jake Peavy on the mound. Peavy is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA since joining the Red Sox.
Here is the Red Sox lineup tonight (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):
1. Pedroia, 2B
2. Nava, RF
3. Ortiz, DH
4. Napoli, 1B
5. Saltalamacchia, C
6. Gomes, LF
7. Drew, SS
8. Bogaerts, 3B
9. Bradley Jr., CF
The Rays try to avoid the sweep with Jeremy Hellickson getting the nod tonight. Hellickson will be pitching for just the second time in 15 days – he had eight days rest prior to his last start and another seven days prior to tonight. He is 11-8 with a 5.04 ERA, but tossed 5.1 scoreless innings his last time out.
Salty back behind the dish
After missing five days last week with a sore back, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is back in the Sox starting lineup tonight. He gets the start at catcher and is batting fifth, giving Boston three lefties in the first five batters against the righty Hellickson.
This and that
Tampa Bay has held teams to four hits or less in 20 games this season, the most in Major League Baseball. They are 17-3 in those contests. All three losses have come to the Red Sox.
A few noteworthy stats, courtesy of Red Sox Media Relations and Stats Guru @Shesta_Sox:
Carp’s knock was the first pinch-hit grand slam in extra innings in Red Sox history. It was also the first such grand slam in MLB since 2003 (Adam Dunn)…The Sox have seven pinch-hit home runs this season, matching a club single-season record (1953)…Boston is 31 games over .500 for the first time since 2004…Koji Uehara set a Red Sox record by retiring his 33rd – and now 34th – consecutive batter Wednesday night…His outing was also his 26th consecutive scoreless outing, breaking a record set by Daniel Bard in 2011.
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