Rapid reaction: Sox 2, Twins 1 (11 inn.)

May, 9, 2011

BOSTON -- It was the longest homestand of the season, 11 games worth, enough time for Red Sox players to plant the tomatoes, take the kids out to the playground a few times, wash Big Papi’s Rolls-Royce and, if you’re Bobby Jenks, do a little fishing.

Enough time for the Bruins to polish off the Flyers in four straight and qualify for the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 19 years. Enough time for Kevin Garnett to grow old, turn young and grow old again, as the Celtics have been pushed to the brink.

Not enough time, though, to move above the .500 mark for the first time this season, as the Sox headed for Toronto and a two-game date with the Blue Jays still a game below the break-even point. What had looked like a soft stretch in the schedule turned out to be anything but, as the Sox lost two of three to the Mariners (the last-place team in the AL West) and split four games with the Angels (after having beaten the Halos four in a row in Anaheim) before taking three of four from the Twins, including a 2-1, 11-inning win Monday night in the series finale.

On Sunday, 21-year-old Jose Iglesias made his big league debut wearing No. 68, his appearance delayed because Marco Scutaro hid Iglesias' glove behind a TV camera.

Monday night, Iglesias showed up wearing No. 76, the same number he wore in spring training, and this time there was nothing stopping him as he scored the game-winning run from first on Carl Crawford’s double off the wall in left-center.

Iglesias was on the move when Crawford connected off Twins reliever Jim Hoey, briefly slowed at second to make sure the ball wouldn’t be caught, then slid into home just before the relay throw by shortstop Matt Tolbert, giving the Sox their second walk-off win of the homestand.

Both came on hits by Crawford, whose May Day single in the ninth beat the Mariners 3-2. The Game Changer may still be hitting in the No. 8 hole, but he’s beginning to make an impact.

It was a dramatic way to end what had already been an eventful homestand, one in which the Sox finished 6-5. With the Sox heading off to Toronto for a short two-game set with the Blue Jays, followed by their first visit this season to the Bronx over the weekend, here's a rundown of life as it was played out on Yawkey Way these last 11 days:

There was rain, too much of it, with delays in two games lasting more than two hours, one during a night that didn’t end until the Sox had lost in 13 innings to the Angels, the last out coming at 2:45 a.m. -- so late that manager Terry Francona and the clubhouse kids didn’t bother going home before the next afternoon’s game.

[+] EnlargeJose Iglesias
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonJose Iglesias, who had entered as a pinch runner, made his first major league run a game-winner.
There were back-to-back 11-0 and 9-2 losses that matched the worst consecutive losses the Sox have had in seven years. There were two shutout losses, giving the Sox four altogether, matching their total for 2010.

The Sox lost two relievers, Jenks and Dan Wheeler, to the DL on the same day, Jenks with biceps tendinitis, Wheeler with a sore left calf. Scutaro also went on the DL with a strained left oblique muscle.

Scott Atchison came back from Pawtucket for one night and was gone by the next morning. Alfredo Aceves came up from Pawtucket and stuck around long enough to commit balks in back-to-back games.

Tim Wakefield also was charged with a balk, which led to the ejection of Francona, who has seldom lost his temper the way he did after the laying of hands by umpire Joe West, with whom he engaged in some pretty intense belly-bumping.

Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first relief appearance on this side of the Big Pond. He could not have imagined that his debut out of the 'pen would come during the 2 a.m. hour, long after Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, George Lopez and Tavis Smiley had called it a night.

Beloved broadcaster Jerry Remy missed the entire homestand with what he said was pneumonia.

The Laser Show was mostly absent, too, during the worst slump of Dustin Pedroia’s life, except for an epic 13-pitch at-bat on May 2 that ended with Pedroia hitting a two-run single that made a loser out of the previously undefeated Jered Weaver. Pedroia also doubled in the 10th Monday, his first extra-base hit since April 15, but overall, the slump he checked through Canadian customs exceeded the weight limit (8-for-61, .131).

Adrian Gonzalez hit his first home run over the Monster, then hit another.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit in every game of the homestand and the seven games before, leaving town with an 18-game hitting streak that is just four games shy of the career-best 22-game streak he had in May 2009. Ellsbury has won the leadoff job back. Meanwhile, Crawford (a.k.a. the Game Changer) remains stuck in the No. 8 spot, though he has now hit in every game this month and delivered two walk-off hits on the homestand.

Iglesias became the youngest Sox shortstop since Juan Beniquez 40 years earlier; that didn’t work out too well for Beniquez, who made so many errors he was turned into an outfielder. The early returns are much more favorable for Iglesias, who was mobbed by his new teammates at the plate Monday.

Wakefield pitched well in one emergency start, was shellacked in another, pitched out of the bullpen, and on the last day of the homestand turned 44 years and 280 days old. That’s the same age as Deacon McGuire, the oldest player to appear in a game for the Sox. So the next time Wakefield plays, he will be the oldest ever.

Darnell McDonald, who has played less than any position player on the roster, was used in the ninth inning Monday night as a pinch runner and was picked off. That gaffe came almost a month to the day after McDonald entered as a pinch runner and overran second base for the last out in a 1-0 defeat in Cleveland.

Like the stumble in Cleveland, McDonald's was the kind of mistake that could have cost the team a win. Instead, on a day the Sox were just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, it resulted in a victory for reliever Hideki Okajima, who threw 43 pitches and left four baserunners stranded in the last two innings.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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