ONE LAST RUN FOR A RED SOX LEGEND -
FROM SEASON CHAMPS TO PLAYOFF CHUMPS
Dustin Pedroia slugs two while
Steven Wright knuckles the Braves

April 27, 2016 ... When the fly ball that Dustin Pedroia sent floating down the right-field line in the second inning of the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Braves started drifting closer and closer toward the foul pole, Pedroia wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

The spray chart of the hits Pedroia has collected over his career looks like a Chuck Close collage. The dots are all over the place. But if you look closely enough, one thing is straightforward: If Pedroia goes deep at Fenway, he's usually going over the Monster.

But the bases were loaded, and with the pole drawing Pedroia's fly like a magnet, it had a chance to be game-changing.

Standing on second, Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn't help but stare. Even Pedroia caught himself gazing at it as he ran up the first base line. From the dugout, Sox manager John Farrell could hear Pedroia trying to sweet talk the ball into clipping the pole.

Pedroia watched the ball until it finally ricocheted off the pole for a grand slam. By the time he rounded the bases, his teammates were dancing in the dugout. Pedroia couldn't keep his grin to himself.

It was Pedroia's first opposite-field homer since 2013, just the seventh of his career, and it was the highlight of a 3-for-5, two-homer, five-RBI night for the second baseman.

Pedroia's slam, along with an RBI double by David Ortiz and a run-scoring single from Hanley Ramirez, gave Steven Wright wiggle room. And as consistent as Wright has been early in the season, he didn't need much.

STEVEN WRIGHT

His seven innings were, by and large, crisp. He complemented his live knuckleball with a curveball and fastball to pile up eight strikeouts. Freddie Freeman, A.J. Pierzynski, and Kelly Johnson were the only Braves who managed to scratch out hits against him.

The only true damage done to Wright was self-inflicted, and he managed to keep it to a minimum. For a moment in the third, Wright lost command of both his knuckler and fastball, and found himself in a jam. He walked leadoff man Nick Markakis, then after striking out Daniel Castro, he walked Adonis Garcia.

When Wright got Freeman to bounce a soft ground ball back to the mound, it looked like a double play would get Wright out of trouble. But he turned to throw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts and spiked the throw in front of the second-base bag.

With the bases loaded, Wright got Jeff Francoeur to pop out. But just when it looked like he'd get out of the inning unscathed, Wright dotted Pierzynski in the thigh with a knuckleball, letting Markakis stroll home. After that, though, the Braves didn't make another peep while Wright was on the mound.

For the Braves, and even sometimes for Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan, Wright's understanding of his knuckleball turned into their head-scratching. He allowed all three hits in the second inning, when the Braves scored once, and he then went on to face 23 consecutive batters without giving up a hit. When the night was over, the unflappable right-hander had thrown 116 pitches, 75 for strikes, improved his record to 2-2, and lowered his ERA to a miserly 1.37.

Freddy Freeman tagged Sox reliever Tommy Layne for a solo homer in the eighth inning, and Markakis shot an RBI double into the left-field corner in the ninth, but by then the Braves were smothered under a pile of runs.

Pedroia went back to familiar territory in the eighth inning when he blasted a solo shot over the Monster. It gave him his seventh career multi-homer game.

For Ortiz, who went 3 for 5 with three doubles and two RBIs, the game was a reminder of the damage a healthy Pedroia can do.

 

 

 

F   E   N   W   A   Y     P   A   R   K

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

 

R

H

E

 
 

ATLANTA BRAVES

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

 

 

4

6

0

 
 

BOSTON RED SOX

2

4

0

2

0

0

0

1

x

 

 

9

11

1

 

 

W-Steven Wright (2-2)
L-Bud Norris (1-4)
Attendance - 33,380

 2B-Freeman (Atl), Markakis (Atl), Ortiz (Bost)

 3B-Shaw (Bost)

 HR-Pedroia (2)(Bost)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Mookie Betts rf 3 1 1 .271  

 

Chris Young rf 1 0 0 .174  

 

Dustin Pedroia 2b 5 2 3 .333  

 

Josh Rutledge 2b 0 0 0 .444  

 

Xander Bogaerts ss 3 2 0 .280  

 

David Ortiz dh 5 2 3 .313  

 

Hanley Ramirez 1b 4 0 1 .265  

 

Travis Shaw 3b 2 0 1 .329  

 

Brock Holt lf 4 0 0 .250  

 

Ryan Hanigan c 4 1 1 .208  

 

Jackie Bradley Jr cf 3 1 1 .239  

 

    IP H ER BB SO  

 

Steven Wright 7 3 1 3 8  

 

Tommy Layne 1 1 1 0 1  

 

Matt Barnes 1 2 1 0 1  

 

 

         

 

 

 

2016 A.L. EAST STANDINGS

 

 

Baltimore Orioles

12 8 -

 

 

BOSTON RED SOX

12

9

1/2

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays

10 11 2 1/2

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays

10 13 3 1/2

 

 

New York Yankees

8 12 4