Rapid reaction: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

May, 18, 2011
BOSTON -- There was no homer in the gloaming, just an eighth-inning RBI double by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a fortuitous downpour that knocked Tigers starter Phil Coke out of the game.

With fog obliterating the Boston skyline -- even the Citgo sign disappeared in the misty shroud -- and outfielders having trouble tracking balls off the bat, the Sox and Tigers were locked in a scoreless tie when rain halted play in the top of the eighth, Daniel Bard having thrown just one pitch in relief of Clay Buchholz.

Play resumed a snappy 26 minutes later, but the delay undoubtedly cemented Detroit manager Jim Leyland's decision to lift left-handed starter Phil Coke, who had thrown only 78 pitches while limiting the Red Sox to three hits over the first seven innings.

So after Bard set down the Tigers in the top of the eighth, Leyland went to his bullpen in the bottom of the inning, which was working out swimmingly when Tigers reliever Ryan Perry set down the first two batters. But then Leyland went to his bullpen again for left-hander Daniel Schlereth to face Carl Crawford, who had looked awful in chasing third strikes out of the zone in each of his first two at-bats.

Crawford drew a 3-and-2 walk from Schelereth, who remained in the game as Leyland probably preferred to have a lefty keep Crawford close to the bag. That turned Saltalamacchia around to the right side, and the Sox catcher, who on Sunday hit his first home run, doubled high off the left-center field wall to score Crawford.

"Salty took a terrific swing,'' Francona said of the Sox catcher, who has raised his batting average to .221 from the .194 he was batting on May 5. "He's plenty quick. He just needs to swing at pitches he can handle.''

That made it five wins in a row for the Red Sox, winning on Welcome Back V-Mart Day. Former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, who came into the game batting .411 in the month of May, hit a leadoff double in the ninth off Jonathan Papelbon and took third on a roller to first, but Papelbon struck out Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn to preserve the win and record his eighth save.

Clay Buchholz pitched the first seven innings, throwing a career-high 127 pitches while holding the Tigers to four hits and a walk.

And how foggy was it?

"I felt like we were in Soldiers Field,'' said Francona, referencing the NFL playoff game between the Bears and Eagles a few years ago when the broadcasters found it virtually impossible to describe the action.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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