Sunday night’s Game 4 was another one of those games like so many that have been part of this year’s Boston Red Sox team; a complete team effort with contributions from places you may not have expected earlier in the day. Witness late scratch Shane Victorino’s replacement Jonny Gomes’ dramatic 3-run HR in the 6th inning, and John Lackey making his 1st relief appearance since 2004 and pitching a scoreless 8th inning. It was acts like these all year that propelled the Red Sox to the best record in the American League.
Before the previously mentioned players factored into the game, it was Clay Buchholz who started the game for Boston, and you’d be lying if you say that you knew what you were going to get from Clay in Game 4. He didn’t have his usual low 90’s fastball, but he did keep the Red Sox in the game by giving them 4 innings, giving up only 1 unearned run. Buchholz turned the ball over to Felix Dubront and he once again stepped up for the Red Sox by setting down the 1st eight batters faced (collecting the Win in the process).
The top of the 6th did not get off to the best start as Ellsbury and Nava made 2 quick outs, but Dustin Pedroia kept the inning alive with a 2-out single. David Ortiz then received the customary unintentional intentional walk on 4 pitches, bringing Jonny Gomes to the plate with 2 on and 2 out. Gomes was told during batting practice that he was going to be starting in LF due to Victorino’s back stiffness, and he certainly made the most of the unexpected opportunity to impact this year’s World Series! Gomes hit Shane Maness’ 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for a 3-run HR, giving the Red Sox a 4-1 lead and eventually a Game 4 victory and a Series tied at 2 games apiece.
To get to that tied Series, the Red Sox needed Junichi Tazawa to put out a rally in the 7th by getting Matt Holliday to ground out with 2 on, ending the inning with the score 4-2 Sox. When David Ortiz singled in the 8th, he was pinch run for by Quentin Berry, who stole the 1st base for the Sox in the Series on their 1st attempt. A double switch to get Mike Napoli into the bottom of the order would mean that Tazawa’s night was finished, so who would pitch the bottom of the 8th for the Red Sox?
To many people’s surprise, John Lackey stepped from the Red Sox bullpen and took the hill to face the middle of the Cardinals lineup. Lackey had not made a relief appearance since 6/27/04 where the 1st batter he faced was David Ross, his catcher in Game 4. With 1 out, Yadier Molina pulled a ball down the 3rd base line where Xander Bogaerts made a nice diving play, but his throw to first pulled Napoli off the bag and Molina ended up on second. When Molina advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, many in Sox Nation were getting their second guessing guns ready about the wisdom of bringing in Lackey to the 8th inning of a World Series Game 4. A Jon Jay popup to shortstop on a 2-0 count allowed many Sox fans to partially exhale, and a David Freese groundout to SS ended that particular second guessing and brought the Red Sox to “Koji Time”.
Koji Uehara got the 1st out of the 9th, and then hitting machine Allen Craig became the 1st player ever to get 4 hits as a pinch hitter when he drove a 1-1 pitch over Daniel Nava’s head in right (he did it in 4 AB’s). The problem for Craig is he is basically limited to just hitting and he can barely run at all. This limited him to a single on the play, and he was pinch run for by one of last night’s heroes, Kolten Wong. How cruel baseball can be reared its head when Wong was picked off of 1st with a 1-1 count on Carlos Beltran at the plate. It was the first time ever a World Series game ended on a pickoff, and that only seems appropriate after the even more unusual ending of Game 3 that we Red Sox fans would love to soon forget.
We have the opportunity to do that now knowing that this Series will once again be coming back to Fenway. Jon Lester will face Adam Wainright in Game 5 Monday night, and no matter what happens there will be a Game 6 at Fenway, and that means that there will be a chance to witness more unforeseen heroics from this year’s Boston Red Sox. Who it will be is anybody’s guess, but nobody that is paying attention is going to count these Sox out until the final out of this World Series.