Betts, Bogaerts deliver in the clutch for 9th walk-off win of the season
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The Red Sox came into Wednesday nights game against the St. Louis Cardinals with a 10-2 record in the month of August. During this recent hot stretch of success, the team that's been inconsistent in their ability to score runs has become a team tough to cool down. They have scored 79 runs this month (5th most in the A.L), thanks in large part to the resurgence of rookie Andrew Benintendi, the emergence of rookie Rafael Devers, and the play of utility infielder Eduardo Nunez. But two of the Sox' centerpiece players, 2016 MVP runner-up Mookie Betts and short stop Xander Bogaerts, have struggled as of late and haven't looked like themselves at the plate in a month. But last night, Betts and Bogaerts finally came up in a big way, leading a 3-run 9th inning rally for yet another walk-off win.
Entering the bottom of the 9th, down 4-2, Xander Bogaerts led off with a solo-home run off Trevor Rosenthal into the Green Monster seats to get the Sox within a run. It was Bogaerts' first home run since July 5th, the day before he injured his hand against Tampa Bay. Mitch Moreland then worked a walk, and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny replaced Rosenthal with lefty Zach Duke. Sox manger John Farrell then pinch-hit Brock Holt for Christian Vazquez and had Chris Young pinch-run for Moreland. After Holt struck out, Jackie Bradley Jr, who threw out Chris Carpenter at the plate earlier in the game to save a run, walked to move the tying run into scoring position.
Matheny then made another pitching change for righty John Brebbia to face Eduardo Nunez. Ahead 0-2, Brebbia held the ball long enough for umpire Chris Segal to call time, infuriating catcher Yadier Molina. Matheny came out to back up Molina, and was then ejected from the game. Nunez then fouled out for the 2nd out of the inning, setting the stage for Mookie Betts.
Betts, who's only batting .269 since the All-Star break, put together a tough at-bat. Down 1-2 in the count, he let two sliders off the outside corner go, and pushed to a 3-2 count. Betts (3 for 4, 3 RBI) lined the next pitch off the Green Monster for a walk-off 2-run double to give the Sox a 5-4 win. Young easily scored from second, while Bradley came all the way around from first, sliding head first to score the game-winning run.
It's the 9th walk-off hit of the season for the Sox, and 8th in their last 19 home games. The Sox' 9 walk-off wins are the second most in baseball, with only the high-powered L.A Dodgers having more with 10 walk-offs.
The Cardinals scored all 4 of their runs in the 2nd inning off Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Kolten Wong hit an RBI single to center and Luke Voit doubled to left to drive in another run. Wong then came around to score on a passed ball by Christian Vazquez, the 9th charged to the Sox catcher this season. Matt Carpenter then singled to the left field gap in front of Bradley. Bradley nearly gunned down his second runner at the plate of the game, but the throw popped out of Vazquez's glove on the swipe tag and Voit was safe at the plate. Although he had a rough inning, Rodriguez would settle down, retiring eight of the last nine batters he faced. He finished the night with a line of 5.1 innings pitched, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits with 6 strikeouts.
The win gave the Sox the 4-game series sweep over the Cardinals this season, and improved to 13-4 in interleague games this season. Winning 12 of their last 14 games, the Sox maintained their 4.5 game lead over the Yankees, with the two teams set to open a 3-game series at Fenway Park Friday night.