Last night was the first baseball game I had watched on television in quite some time.
And what a game it was. In that game, the Indians got off to a hot start, riding a hot start from Zach Plesac and early home runs from newly-acquired Franmil Reyes and infielder José Ramírez en route to a 5-0 lead through three innings.
But then, the Red Sox did what they are best known for doing: rallying, especially with two outs late in the game.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Red Sox finally solved Plesac, scoring two runs against him and closing the deficit to 5-3. First, it was J.D. Martinez, who has continued to put up another MVP-caliber season for the Red Sox, destroying a ball that landed in the left field bleachers. Then, infielder Brock Holt, who has been having a somewhat quiet season, cut the lead to 5-3 with a double into the gap in left-center field.
The Indians would go scoreless for six more innings, providing the Sox with plenty of time to mount a comeback. After Plesac’s day ended upon the conclusion of the fifth inning, newly-acquired Hunter Wood came in and only gave up one hit in less than an inning. Tyler Clippard, who has bounced around in his career and was formerly one of the best relievers in baseball, struggled, as he gave up a solo homerun to Jackie Bradley Jr. in 1.1 innings of work.
Nick Wittgren and Oliver Perez combined to shut down the Red Sox in the eighth inning, and Brad Hand, one of the best closers in baseball, looked to be in line for his 30th save of the season. It would not be so easy, though: he was facing one of the best offenses in baseball.
The first batter for the Red Sox in the top of the ninth inning, Jackie Bradley Jr., looked to be on base in consecutive plate appearances. Carlos Santana, however, had a different idea, as he dove and tagged first base with his glove after bobbling the hard ground ball from Bradley Jr. Mookie Betts waked, Rafael Devers struck out on a high fastball, and Boegarts then hit a ball deep to right field that scored Betts to tie the game at five.
Yes, it was the second consecutive blown save for Hand, but it was also his second consecutive win. After the Red Sox put the equalizer on the board with a two-out clutch hit from Boegarts, Carlos Slam-tana, as sports anchors have been calling him, hit a walk-off home run to left-center field to put the Indians into sole possession of first place for the first time since April 20.
Maybe Hand needs a day or two to settle down. He got the win, however, and that is what matters. Luckily for hand, Slam-tana has been on fire, and has helped Hand to his past two wins.
If Slam-tana continues to produce, and Hand can re-gain his consistency that shot him up the American League saves leaderboard earlier in the year, the Indians should be in a good place.