As the fans at Fenway Park watched Boston’s 10-run first inning lead slip away, Red Sox manager Terry Francona could only ponder at what to do next as Tuesday night’s score began to resemble that of a football game. The final, 19-17 with the Red Sox over the Texas Rangers in one of the wildest games of the 2008 MLB season for sure.
“At some point,” the Red Sox manager said, “you’re thinking about going for a field goal.”
That ‘field goal’ came in the eighth inning when Kevin Youkilis’ three-run homer pushed the Sox ahead for good, giving them a three-run cushion which would be enough for the win. The home run was his second of the night and 22nd on the season. The blast brought fans to their feet as Youkilis circled the bases in almost a sprint like fashion.
“I also felt the emotion of the boos today,” after two strikeouts, he said. “So the roller coaster ride in Boston’s always fun. Luckily, we got the cheers at the end.”
In the end they got plenty of cheers, but the Sox were fortunate that they were able to get lots of cheers early on as well. During the bottom of the first inning for the Red Sox they sent 14 batters to the plate en route to scoring 10 runs off of Texas starter Scott Feldman. Feldman would only last 2 2/3 innings while allowing 12 runs, but became the first pitcher to not lose a game while allowing that many runs since Gene Packard of the St. Louis Cardinals got the win in a 16-12 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 3, 1918.
“Nobody should ever score 10 runs in the first inning. It’s embarrassing,” Feldman said. “But we know our team is capable of fighting back.”
The big blows in the first came on a pair of three-run homers by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. The bombs were his 15th and 16th on the season and Ortiz attributes his power to having a day off on Monday night in Chicago to rest his sore wrist.
“That way I could have more days like this,” he said.
Besides the two home run performances by Ortiz and Youkilis, the Sox received five hits from Dustin Pedroia, two hits and three runs from J.D. Drew and two hits and two RBI’s from Jed Lowrie. Everyone in the Sox starting lineup reached base which proved to be important because everyone in the Texas line recorded a hit. The Rangers finished with 20 on the night, the second night in a row they’ve accomplished that feat.
“After that first inning when they had us down 10-0, I think everybody in the ballpark and everybody in all of Massachusetts thought that the game was over,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington.
The Rangers were able to claw back by scoring two in the second on a Chris Davis two RBI single making the score 10-2. After the Sox tacked on two more runs in the third to make it 12-2 the Rangers bats awoke in the fifth inning, scoring eight runs on eight hits. The big blast came on Ian Kinslers three-run shot off of relief pitcher David Aardsma’s first batter faced. In the bottom half of the inning, Boston scored two more times on Youkilis’ first homer of the night to put the Sox ahead 14-10.
Texas wouldn’t quit, plating five runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead 15-14 and send Fenway Park into a state of shock and disarray.
“This was a game that I think potentially could have been a major downer for us,” said Sox 3B Mike Lowell, “and we actually turned around and made it actually a great win.”
After Youk’s heroics in the eighth, closer Jonathan Papelbon came in to slam the door shut by recording the final three outs in the ninth inning, picking up his 32nd save on the season. The win moves Boston to within three games of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East division after TB fell to Oakland by a score of 2-1 last night. The Sox are currently in the lead for the AL Wildcard spot by 2.5 games over the Minnesota Twins and 5 games ahead of the New York Yankees.
Tonight, Boston sends Jon Lester to the hill to try and make it three in a row for Boston. Lester is 10-4 on the season and suffered his first loss in 10 starts in his last outing in Chicago where he tossed seven innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits. The Rangers will give the ball to Luis Mendoza who currently holds a record of 3-5 on the year. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm EST.