During Sunday night's contest against the Baltimore Orioles and starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, it took the Boston Red Sox offense a while to warm up and crack the code of his pitching and releasing the potential runs located within. But when they did, the Red Sox hitters were able to climb back in the game, courtesy of a home run that ended Jimenez's night. They then took advantage of the suspect pitching of Zach Britton and a couple of damaging defensive lapses by the Orioles defense to earn their ninth victory of the season, courtesy of a 6-5 final score.
Before the Red Sox were able to end the game in exhilarating, walk-off fashion, though, they spent the first half of the contest looking like they would be an easy out for the Orioles and fall even farther behind the rest of the teams in the American League East. One of the two biggest issues facing the club during those first five innings was an inability to solve the pitching of Jimenez when it counted; although the Red Sox worked their way into five plate appearances with runners in scoring position, they were unable to capitalize and had nothing to show for their efforts.
For a while, it looked like Jimenez would be able to bounce back from his disastrous start to the season and put together his first complete and well-pitched performance in four tries. Unfortunately for Jimenez, he was left in the game perhaps one batter too long.
After allowing a single to David Ortiz and issuing a walk to Mike Napoli to put runners on first and second bases with one out, Jimenez fell victim to some poor luck. The Red Sox only sent five balls into the air against Jimenez, but the one launched by Jonny Gomes left the confines of the playing field and closed the gap between the two teams to a 5-3 deficit.
Still, that home run only increased the Red Sox win expectancy to a paltry 22.4 percent as the Orioles were still in control of the contest, largely because Red Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy in no way contributed in a positive manner to the team's chances of winning. Peavy allowed five runs in 5.7 innings and posted a -.217 win probability added.
Once the Red Sox were able to overcome Jimenez's pitching and finally put some runs on the board, overcoming Peavy's pitching proved to be an easy matter as the Red Sox would go on to tie the game at 5-5 apiece after pushing across two more runs in the seventh inning. What had been a non-competitive game before those two runs became a toss-up.
And the toss-up landed in favor of the Red Sox as Dustin Pedroia scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, an inning that was a mess for the Orioles from beginning to ending. First, Pedroia, the second batter of the inning, doubled and then advanced to third base after a wild pitch. Ortiz was then intentionally walked in order to prevent him from doing any of the clutch hitting he is so well-known for, which might have been more effective if Orioles reliever Darren O'Day plunked Mike Napoli to load the bases with just one out, giving the Red Sox a run expectancy of 1.20.
Since the Red Sox only needed one run to win the contest, all signs pointed to the fact that they would emerge victorious, even if the signs provided no indication the way in which they scored the winning run would involve such ridiculousness. The next batter, Mike Carp, flied out to left, allowing Pedroia the opportunity to tag up and score the winning run.
Pedroia, however, seemed unsure if the fly ball were deep enough to tag up on and did his best impression of a squirrel sensing danger approaching, but not knowing which avenue of exit he should follow so he scurried one way before going the other way before finally making up his mind. Pedroia's final decision was aided by the errant throw of left fielder David Lough that was so off-target, it made the idea of tagging Pedroia out at home plate into a pipe dream.
With Pedroia crossing the plate, the Red Sox are now just a win away from reaching a .500 winning percentage, which would be the first milestone is turning around their season and shaking off their slow start.