"THE FUTURE AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE"
The Sox rally in the 7th
without a hit
April 17, 2015 ... Long
before Xander Bogaerts gave the Sox a 3-2 walkoff win with a looping
RBI single to shallow right field, Pablo Sandoval’s slide changed the
complexion of the game.
Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop was thinking about checking his side-view
mirror. He was focused solely on cleanly gloving the feed from shortstop Everth
Cabrera and quickly turning a double play that would have ended the second
inning. The play was already tough enough with Cabrera’s momentum pulling him
toward first, making his throw to second an awkward task. Schoop had to stretch
with his left leg and keep his right foot on the bag just to make the first out
possible. He didn’t see Pablo Sandoval trucking his way from first, but Sandoval
already had Schoop in his crosshairs. Sandoval has been a middle infielder’s
nightmare this season, barreling into second base with the intent to bust up any
and all double-play attempts. Schoop found out for himself when Sandoval laid
out to sweep him off his feet. Schoop landed in the dirt, legs split, his throw
spiking not even halfway to first base. Sandoval, still belly to the ground,
turned his head to make sure he’d saved an out at first before popping back up
and heading to the dugout with his job done. The Red Sox didn’t get any runs out
of the inning, but the glares from the Orioles showed that the effects from the
play still lingered. Sandoval gave Schoop a pat on the side to let him know
things were square.
When Sandoval came to the plate two innings later, everything bubbled over. The
Orioles had two outs and were on their way out of the fourth inning with their
1-0 lead intact when starter Ubaldo Jimenez dotted Sandoval in the shoulder with
a 90-mile-per-hour fastball. Jimenez thought nothing of it. But before catcher
Caleb Joseph even got the ball back to him, Jimenez was ejected by plate umpire
Jordan Baker. Jimenez, confused if only because he hadn’t gotten so much as a
warning, threw his hands in the air. Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to
At that moment, things shifted. Jimenez, who had a 1-3 record and 9.37 ERA in
seven career starts against the Sox, had cruised through 3⅔
scoreless innings, throwing just 59 pitches.
Meanwhile, Sox starter Joe Kelly already had eight full counts to his name by
the fourth inning, with the Orioles milking him for 84 pitches. But once Jimenez
was gone, the Sox capitalized. Showalter then turned to Kevin Gausman, a
24-year-old righty with a blinding fastball who had allowed four runs in three
appearances this season.
In the fifth inning, Ryan Hanigan came to the plate to face Gausman with one out
and Bogaerts on first. Down in the count, 1 and 2, Hanigan fought off a pair of
97-m.p.h. heaters to stay alive, then belted a tying two-run homer off the AAA
sign over the Green Monster.
The Orioles went from having control of the game to being in a tense staredown
that didn’t end until the bottom of the ninth, when the Sox executed all of the
game’s smallest facets to push across the winning run. First, Mike Napoli worked
a four-pitch walk out of Orioles reliever Brian Matusz, who couldn’t find the
zone with his changeup. Daniel Nava, who replaced Shane Victorino as a pinch
hitter in the sixth, got his bat on an 89-m.p.h. fastball that was headed for
his hands, laying a perfect bunt down the first base line. With the go-ahead run
in scoring position and the Sox’ hottest hitter, Bogaerts, coming to the plate,
Showalter called on righthander Tommy Hunter. Hunter left a curveball over the
plate and Bogaerts slapped it into right field. It hung in the air long enough
for Schoop to range back to try to make a play, but Napoli wasn’t going to wait
at second to find out, heading for the plate the whole way. The ball dropped in
just out of Schoop’s reach.
The Sox’ second come-from-behind win of the season was a collage of key
ingredients — sacrifice bunts, heady base running, and timely hitting. But it
started with Sandoval’s slide, and Napoli said that style of play is what will
define the team.