ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (USA TODAY) - Jeremy Hellickson knew the trick to beating
the Boston Red Sox. We'll never know if he was the man for the job.
biggest key is keeping Ellsbury and Victorino off base," the Tampa Bay
Rays starter said. He was right and now another team can worry about it
in the American League Championship Series.
That's where Jacoby
Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and the Red Sox are headed after outlasting
the Rays and their unusual anybody-and-everybody pitching strategy
Tuesday for a 3-1 victory in Game 4 of their Division Series.
BOX SCORE: Red Sox 3, Rays 1
They're headed home to await a Saturday game against the winner of Thursday's Detroit-at-Oakland Game 5.
and Victorino got the key hits in a two-run seventh inning that
thwarted Rays manager Joe Maddon's tactics that began with removing
Hellickson after six batters in a scoreless game and included with Game 1
starter Matt Moore for six crucial outs in the third and fourth
plan was for Hellickson to go farther than three outs," Maddon said.
"We hoped once he got through the order, maybe through (Dustin) Pedroia
again. Just could see it wasn't gonna work. Then we got extemporaneous."
That's how the Red Sox like to think they play.
it takes," said Victorino, who beat out the two-out, broken-bat infield
single that drove in the winning run. He also got hit by pitches twice,
the second one setting up an insurance run in the ninth inning.
teammates celebrated in the clubhouse with the usual beer and champagne
spraying, Victorino emerged from the trainer's room, sipping on a
sports drink, wearing a huge ice pack strapped to an elbow from one of
the pitches, another large wrap around his midsection.
feels good," he said softly. "Just try to make something happen. I came
out on the good end with a broken-bat infield hit. That's the kind of
thing you look back on, talk about executing and doing the little
things, whatever it takes to win."
It was the sixth of nine Rays
pitchers, regular late-inning man Joel Peralta, who finally succumbed to
the little things - more than just the ones named Ellsbury and
Peralta entered the game after Ellsbury singled to put
runners on first and third with two outs in the seventh. Peralta's first
pitch bounced in front of plate and past catcher Jose Lobaton, allowing
Xander Bogaerts to score.
Ellsbury was running on the play, got
credit for stealing second and continued to third on the wild pitch.
Thus, he was able to score on Victorino's bouncer that shortstop Yunel
Escobar handled cleanly but just couldn't the throw to first in time.
"I knew I had to go," Victorino said. "I knew it wasn't hit hard enough. It was a matter of me beating Escobar."
POSTSEASON: Schedule, results, probable pitchers
The game was a showcase of pitching depth - and two teams that were defining it in different ways.
the Rays were all about showing how many pitchers they trusted in an
elimination situation, the Red Sox got to Game 4 of a playoff series
with former Cy Young Award and pitching triple crown winner Jake Peavy
on the mound - and they set it up that way.
"This is the state for which we acquired Jake," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Few teams can go that deep.
not that Peavy has been a post-season whiz. His two previous starts for
San Diego in 2005-06 resulted in 13 runs and 19 hits in less than 10
innings - and two losses.
He's been inspired by what he's seen
since coming from the Chicago White Sox in the three-team July trade
that included the Red Sox sending shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit.
"I saw a fight that I had never seen with any other team," Peavy said. "I saw a willingness to prepare."
And it starts at the top of the order.
Ellsbury does when he gets on base raises such havoc," Peavy said. "And
I didn't have the appreciation for Shane playing against him. Shane's a
winner. That's all there is to it."
Peavy wasn't the official
winner on this night but he provided what was necessary, methodically
working through the Rays for the first five innings, allowing three
singles, two of them erased on double plays.
The Rays finally broke through in the sixth on Yunel Escobar's leadoff double and a one-out RBI single by David DeJesus.
That's when Farrell went to a more conventional bullpen parade.
Breslow replaced Peavy with two out in the sixth and struck out the
first four batters he faced. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara finished,
striking out three of the final five batters.
The Rays had found
ways to survive four elimination games in just over a week, but this one
was the biggest challenge yet because Hellickson had pitched six
innings only once in his previous 10 starts, compiling a 2-7 record and
7.15 earned run average over that span.
Even he said of being chosen to start, "I was surprised but I'm ready."
Maddon apparently had even less confidence.
Three batters into the second inning - two walks and a single after a 1-2-3 first - Hellickson was lifted.
worked - with a little Rays magic. Jamey Wright, torched in Game 1 for
four runs in his first post-season inning after 18 seasons in the
majors, struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia then got out of the inning when
Stephen Drew hit into a double play.
It wasn't just any double
play. First baseman James Loney snared a line drive, looked to double
Daniel Nava off first but realized he wouldn't be able to, then spun and
threw to second, where Mike Napoli was doubled off.
double play became an early theme. The Rays got another in the third
after Wright walked Will Middlebrooks. Ellsbury grounded to second
baseman Ben Zobrist. He threw to first for one out, then Loney made
another throw to second base to get Middlebrooks.
That double play was induced by Moore on the first batter he faced.
even Moore, the rotation guy pitching on a day he would normally throw a
bullpen session between starts, faced only seven hitters.
As it turned out, no Red Sox batter faced the same pitcher twice.
And now they won't face the Rays anymore, a team they played 23 times this year, winning 15 times.
"Just one step," Victorino said.
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