May 19, 2011: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3

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May 19, 2011: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- After blowing a two-run lead in the eighth inning, the Red Sox roared back with a walkoff victory in the bottom of the ninth when Carl Crawford singled over the head of center fielder Austin Jackson, scoring pinch-runner Darnell McDonald for a 4-3 win.

It was Crawford's third walkoff hit this month.

The win was Boston's sixth in a row overall and third straight in its final at-bat. The Sox had a walkoff win in the bottom of the ninth Monday, went ahead for good in the bottom of the eighth Wednesday, and added another last at-bat game-winner Thursday night.

Also for the second game in a row, Jonathan Papelbon had to bail himself out of a ninth-inning jam. Thursday, he struck out Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded.

Josh Beckett, who entered the game with the lowest ERA of any American League starter, limited the Tigers to a single run but left after six innings and 83 pitches with what the team announced was a stiff neck.

Daniel Bard came on in the eighth, and in the span of five pitches, coughed up the two-run lead intrusted to him.

First, Brennan Boesch pulled one past the right field foul pole to bring the Tigers to within a run, then Miguel Cabrera drilled a pitch into the Monster Seats to knot the score at 3-3.

The Sox had used solo homers from J.D. Drew (in the fourth) and David Ortiz (leading off the seventh) off Verlander to take a 3-1 lead.

The teams traded runs in the second, with Andy Dirks singling home Cabrera for the Tigers and the Red Sox countering with a sacrifice fly from Drew.

Player of the Game: Carl Crawford

Crawford may not have many hits this season, but he's making them count -- especially in May.

Crawford's line-drive single over the head of center fielder Austin Jackson scored pinch-runner Danrell McDonald from third base with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

That marked the third game-winning walkoff hit for Crawford this month.

Honorable Mention: Josh Beckett

Beckett has become the tough-luck pitcher in the Red Sox rotation. He limited the Tigers to a single run over six innings before leaving with a stiff neck.

Beckett was in line for the win until the Sox bullpen blew a two-run lead with six outs to go. That marked the fourth time this year that Beckett has allowed two runs or fewer and gotten a no-decision.

The Goat: Daniel Bard

Yes, the Sox rebounded to win, but Bard made the task tougher.

In the span of five pitches, Bard gave up two solo homers to the first two hitters he faced in the eighth, blowing a 3-1 lead.

Turning Point: Papelbon's strikeouts

After loading the bases with one out, Jonathan Papelbon struck out Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera to preserve the 3-3 tie and set the stage for bottom-of-the-ninth heroics.

By the Numbers: 4-6

Justin Verlander has turned in a quality start in all 10 of his outings this season, but the Tigers are just 4-6 in those 10 games.

Quote of Note:

"I think we're glad we're playing at home. You know how we feel in games like this on the road -- you make a mistake, you go home (a loser).'' -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Buchholz may have earned a spot in the postseason rotation, and with the 2017 Red Sox

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Buchholz may have earned a spot in the postseason rotation, and with the 2017 Red Sox

NEW YORK -- Clay Buchhlz's start Wednesday night didn't result in a win for him, or even, as it turned out, for his team. But that didn't detract from the brilliant effort he turned in -- six shutout innings, one hit allowed -- on the night that the Red Sox almost unwittingly clinched the division title.

”It was good to go out (and pitch well) in this place," said Buchholz Thursday, "because I haven't ever pitched well here. So it was gratifying to throw well against a club that, historically, I haven't thrown well against."

It's widely assumed that Buchholz will be the team's fourth starter in the post-season and as the playoffs approach, Buchholz is throwing the ball better than he has all season.

"Physically, I feel good," said Buchholz. "It's been an up-and-down year for me individually. You have to learn from the time when you're not doing your job, and sometimes, you have to take a step back. Moving to the bullpen wasn't exactly what I had mapped out in my head for me to do this year, but overall, it helped me out to take a deep breath and work on stuff."

MORE BUCHHOLZ: McAdam: Buchholz now limiting, rather than fueling, big innings

It was surprising that Buchholz was lifted after just 89 pitches, but John Farrell has appeared to be reluctant to have Buchholz go much beyond that since his return to the rotation in August.

"At that moment, obviously I wanted to go back out (for more)," said Buchholz. "But the way our bullpen's thrown (of late), I'd much rather give whoever comes in a clean inning rather than giving up a couple of hits in the seventh and have someone come in the game with runners on and making their job harder.

"As far as the pitch count goes, that's why John's the manager -- he has the reins on whether I go back out or not go back out, or how many pitches I'm going to throw. But I feel good. I could have gone out and thrown as many pitches as they wanted me to."

Having endured an up-and-down season, Buchholz has a renewed appreciation for the upcoming post-season.

"There was a bumpy road for a while," Buchholz said. "There were moments a little tougher than others, but this is our job and regardless of what position you put yourself in, you still have to go out and do your job. But knowing where we are now, I think this team's built right to go deep in the playoffs."

SOME STILL AREN'T BUCHHOLZ BELIEVERS: Bertrand: Even with good start, I can't trust Clay Buchholz

Buchholz doesn't have a guaranteed contract for next year, but the expectation is the Red Sox will pick up his option worth $13.5 million.

"I understand the business side of it," he said. "That's part of the game. But if I'm healthy and throwing the ball well, I feel like I'm going to have a job somewhere. This is the only place I've ever been and I'd love for it to be here.

"That's to be decided, I guess. I'm sure we'll talk about it after all this is over and done with. But I'm going to try to have as much fun while I'm here and I hope I'm back here next year."

Ortiz to play rest of regular season for Sox with guaranteed rest before playoffs

Ortiz to play rest of regular season for Sox with guaranteed rest before playoffs

NEW YORK -- Now that the division title has been wrapped up, the Red Sox turn their attention to getting ready for the post-season -- but not at the expense of trying to win as many games as possible.

Part of the planning for the Sox involves how much to play David Ortiz, who is retiring when the Red Sox are through in the post-season.

On Thursday night, his final road game and last appearance at Yankee Stadium, the Sox planned to have Ortiz get at least two at-bats in recognition of the fans in New York who wanted to see him one more time.

As for the last series at Fenway, it will be business as usual with Ortiz playing all three.

"We don't foresee any pullback in terms of his number of at-bats," said Farrell of the weekend series with Toronto. "It's a weekend of celebration well-deserved and we'll have time to recover."

Farrell noted that under the current playoff format, teams which win their division get three full days off after the final regular season games. That helps in preparation.

"The importance of winning and maintaining our daily approach is priority No. 1," said Farrell. "How that might affect how deep a starter goes in the upcoming games might be looked at a little more closely. Still, we feel it's imperative to secure as much home field as we can."

On Thursday night, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon were all given the night off. Others will get the same opportunity over the weekend.