History worth repeating
Behind their captain, Sox notch second straight walk-off victory
BOSTON -- Several members of the Red Sox had already raced out of the dugout by the time Vernon Wells had released his throw to the plate on a single up the middle by Brandon Moss. It was going to be another walk-off special at Fenway Park. As it turns out, the Red Sox had to wait another minute or so to celebrate Wednesday's eventual 2-1 thriller over the Blue Jays.
Pinch-runner Jed Lowrie was thrown out at the plate by the strong-armed Wells. Now, there were two outs in this tie game in the bottom of the ninth.
But no matter, thanks to Jason Varitek. The captain ripped into a 2-1 curveball from Jays reliever Scott Downs and stung it up the middle for a single. Wells couldn't duplicate his heroics, as this time his throw to the plate was too late to nail Manny Ramirez, who roared around from second base.
Ramirez flipped his helmet off and braced for the celebration. Actually, there were two of them. One surrounding Ramirez just in front of home plate, and the other around Varitek just past first base.
Another night, another walk-off win at Fenway Park. One day after Kevin Youkilis sent everyone home with a single up the middle, Varitek did the exact same thing.
"It's pretty incredible just for the simple fact that it's not one person every night," said Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who earned the win for the second night in a row. "It's different people every night. Whether it's 'Tek tonight, Youk last night -- that's the beauty of this ballclub right now. It's somebody different every night and I think that's what makes our ballclub tick right now."
In scoring a total of just three runs, the Red Sox have somehow won two consecutive games in their final at-bat.
"Late heroics are better than no heroics," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Our pitching has managed to keep us right there and allow one big hit or two to win a game for us."
The winning rally was set up by a David Ortiz single and a walk to Ramirez. It was Ramirez who slid home with the winning run, setting in motion another walk-off celebration.
In finishing April with a 17-12 record, the Red Sox won an astounding eight of those games in their final at-bat.
"It means we're playing a lot of close games, but it also means that we'll continue to play," said Francona. "It's not always easy, but it's a heck of a lot better to win than lose."
Daisuke Matsuzaka, who missed his last start with the flu, came back strong in this one. The right-hander fired seven shutout innings while allowing two hits and striking out four. He lowered his ERA to 2.52 in the process.
Matsuzaka, who had a headache after the game, left before speaking with the media.
"Today, I was able to do my minimum required job as a starter and the team got the win, so it's great," Matsuzaka said in a statement through a media spokesperson.
Ortiz put Matsuzaka in position to get the win when he belted a solo homer into the lower box seats in right field with one out in the bottom of the seventh, breaking a scoreless tie. The blast was Boston's first substantial hit of the night against Jays righty Dustin McGowan, who took a one-hit shutout into the inning.
The hit was also a bit of a breakthrough for a Red Sox offense that had gone 39 innings without an extra-base hit.
"Obviously, as a whole, we're not swinging the bats great right now, but the guy pitched the ball pretty good, too," said Varitek.
But the Red Sox couldn't hang on to that slight lead. Manny Delcarmen came on for Matsuzaka to start the eighth and gave up a single to Adam Lind. Hideki Okajima then replaced Delcarmen and surrendered a double down the line in left to Gregg Zaun. With second and third and nobody out, Alex Rios lined one to right that Moss made a diving catch on.
It went as a game-tying sacrifice fly. Okajima got the job done after that, striking out David Eckstein and Scott Rolen to keep the game in a tie.
Papelbon gave up a leadoff single Matt Stairs in the top of the ninth, but brought back memories of last year's World Series, when he picked pinch-runner John McDonald off of first. It was Papelbon's first career pickoff, excluding his clutch pick of Matt Holliday in Game 2 of the Fall Classic.
After clearing the bases, Papelbon kept the game tied.
The Red Sox were all too happy to un-tie it in the ninth, just as they did 24 hours earlier.
"It's been great. Any win is good, but when you walk off with a win, those are some of the most fun ones," said Moss. "To walk off with two wins against two really good pitchers feels good."
Dustin Pedroia insists the Red Sox were not experiencing déjà vu as the latest ninth inning rally unfolded.
"Every day is a different day," Pedroia said. "I don't think anyone thinks about what happened the night before."
But when this type of history repeats itself, nobody is about to complain.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.