"THE GAME OF THE YEAR,” shouted NESN’s Dave O’Brien, as the Red Sox beat Cleveland on a three run walk-off HR by Christian Vasquez in the bottom of the 9th.
The dramatic 12-10 win came in one of the most implausible games of this season – or any season.
The two starting pitchers, Carlos Carrasco for Cleveland and Chris Sale for Boston, entered the game with a combined record of 23 wins and eight losses; their respective ERAs were 3.57, Carrasco; 2.27, Sale.
By the end of inning two the Indians and Red Sox had scored 10-runs, five each. In the top of the 5th, Cleveland scored two more to go up, 7-5, but the Sox came back with four in the 6th to lead, 9-7.
After five innings Sale, considered as dominant in the AL as Kershaw is in the NL, was done, but he had outlasted Carrasco, who was finished after only 1.2 innings.
Their combined stats for the game: 12 runs, 14 hits, seven doubles and three HRs. This from two of the game’s best pitchers.
But neither were the story of the game.
That distinction goes, first, to Cleveland’s center fielder Austin Jackson, who, in the bottom of the 5th, chased down a long fly ball hit by Hanley Ramirez to the right/center field corner of the Red Sox bullpen.
As he neared the four foot high wall, Jackson leaped three feet above it and remarkably caught the ball with his left hand, before flipping upside down inside the bullpen – to the astonishment and dismay of Ramirez’s teammates and the sold out crowd at Fenway.
Once past their astonishment and dismay, the Fenway faithful properly applauded Jackson, and the cameras caught Ramirez saying, as he walked toward the Sox dugout, “Wow!”
Both Cleveland’s and Boston’s radio and television announcers said it was the catch of the year.
What about the century?
The second distinction is how the Sox came into the bottom of the 9th behind 10-9, because Craig Kimbrel, who has been lights out for for Boston all season, was anything but in the top of the 9th.
Kimbrel gave up two runs on three hits, one base on balls, and one wild pitch, which scored the go ahead run for the Tribe.
If you wish to combine Kimbrel and Sale, the scorebook says they gave up 11 hits, eight runs, two bases on balls, and two wild pitches. We’re talking about one of the game’s greatest starters and one of its greatest closers – and yet the Sox were within one swing of a final out and going down, 10-9.
The third, is how, down by a run, with two on and two outs and two strikes on young Christian Vasquez, he homered for the walk-off to deepest center field – and the world of Red Sox Nation spun off its axis.
Oh, with the victory the Sox regained the AL East lead by a half-game over NYY, who lost to the Tigers in the Bronx, 4-2.
No other game played last night in the majors matched Sox/Indians.