Mike Napoli hit a grand slam to spark a huge Boston comeback in a
12-8 win over the Yankees Friday night (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Red Sox Nation: are you starting to believe?
One night removed from coughing up a five-run lead to the Yankees in the seventh inning before eventually staging a come-from-behind win in extra innings, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino helped Boston score nine unanswered runs and mount a dramatic comeback of their own en route to a 12-8 victory against the Yankees in the second round of the four-game set in the Bronx on Friday.
Down four runs in the seventh, Napoli tied the game at eight apiece with a bases-loaded bomb, and Victorino put the Sox ahead 10-8 with a two-run homer deep to left in the eighth.
Napoli’s big homer didn’t just reset the game. It also got starter Felix Doubront — who didn’t record what one might label a “command performance” — off the hook.
Doubront struggled to find the strike zone from the outset and wasn’t even able to make it four frames, giving up six runs on three hits — including a pair of triples — and issuing half a dozen walks. Of those six free passes, four came around to cross the plate.
It’s been par for the course for the struggling southpaw of late, who has posted an ERA of 6.60 in his last six starts despite the Sox saving his bacon and putting up a record of 4-1 in those outings.
Last night, it was Napoli who rescued Doubront with one quick shake of the Etch-a-Sketch, making it a whole new ballgame and temporarily suspending the Doubront-or-Dempster debate regarding which hurler to shuffle off to the bullpen once Clay Buchholz returns.
Andy Pettitte went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and striking out eight, Phil Hughes was charged with four runs on three hits in a third of an inning and Preston Claiborne, who took the loss, served up another three runs on three hits in two-thirds of a frame.
Brandon Workman got the win after an inning and a third of relief in which he struck out two, and Koji Uehara came on to strike out two in a now-trademark 1-2-3 ninth.
Napoli was 3 for 3 at the plate with two walks and four RBI, while Victorino and Stephen Drew each drove in another pair of runs for Boston. Will Middlebrooks, who came into the game hitting at a .347 clip since being recalled from the minors, went 2 for 5 with an RBI of his own and hit a home run for the third-straight game.
The win moves Boston up 9-5 on New York in the season series, while the Yankees' elimination number drops to 11.
Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:
1) So Soriano, Felix: After allowing a walk to Derek Jeter with one out on the first, Doubront served up a pitch that Soriano parked in the left-field stands to give New York a 2-0 lead early in the game. It was Soriano’s 13th homer in just 39 games since being traded from the Cubs back to the Yankees.
2) Like A Ross: With the Yankees up 2-0 in the second, David Ross collected his first RBI since June 8 when he singled to center to score Napoli and cut the Yankee lead in half.
3) Boone, Bust And Echo: After Mike Carp walked to load the bases in the seventh with one out and the Sox down 8-4, Napoli bounced a Boone Logan fastball off the top of the left-field wall for his third grand slam of 2013 to tie the game up and give the Sox new life.
4) VICTORYNO: With one out and one on in the eighth, Victorino hit his sixth homer in the last 12 games, ripping a pitch deep to left to give Boston a 10-8 lead and complete the comeback.
By virtue of the win, Boston improves to 86-57 and goes to 7.5 games up in their first-place lead on Tampa Bay in the American League East Division after the Rays lost 6-4 to the Mariners in Seattle.
Tomorrow, John Lackey (8-12, 3.22 ERA) hopes to finally garner some run support from his teammates as he goes for the win against David Huff (2-0, 1.13 ERA). First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. EST.