Christian Vazquez Socks Walk-Off Homer In 13th As Red Sox Grab ALDS Lead Over Rays

Boston Red Sox

On the first pitch Christian Vazquez saw from Luis Patino, he sent it over the Green Monster and into the Boston nightcap as the Sox took a commanding 2-1 lead over the Rays in the ALDS with their 6-4 win.

It was quite an eventful 13 innings, as the action got underway just three batters in when Nathan Eovaldi let up a two-run homer Austin Meadows. The Sox would cut their deficit to one just a half-inning later, with Kyle Schwarber blasting a solo shot.

Two singles from Christian Arroyo and Schwarber led off the bottom of the third, and Kiké Hernandez plated Arroyo with a single before Boston took the lead on Rafael Devers’ ground ball single, which drove in Schwarber to make it 3-2.

Eovaldi lasted just five, as he was dominant only allowing three hits but several at-bats worked his pitch count up too high to continue further. The righty struck out eight, and walked just one.

In the bottom of the fifth, Hernandez extended the lead with a solo blast to put the Sox ahead 4-2.

Josh Taylor and Ryan Brasier combined for a scoreless sixth, while Austin Davis finished the seventh after Brasier retired the first two batsmen.

Hansel Robles would be summoned for the eighth, but let up a leadoff jack to Wander Franco — who turns into Barry Bonds when playing the Sox — and Meadows doubled in the very next at-bat. Robles retired the next two hitters, but even with shutdown arm Garrett Whitlock warming and seemingly ready to go, manager Alex Cora was adamant on leaving Robles in to face Randy Arozarena.

Arozarena lifted a soft blooper into left-center, and Hernandez wasn’t able to get to  it as he dove and missed by about two feet, as it ended up being a game-tying RBI double. Whitlock then finished the frame.

Whitlock hurled a 1-2-3 ninth but both sides were unable to muster something, sending the affair to extras.

On came Nick Pivetta for the top of the 10th inning, and it was a night to remember for him.

Pivetta ended the 10th after Manuel Margot was caught stealing second base, and he ended the 11th, 12th, and 13th, all with clutch strikeouts violently pounding his chest after each of them. He ended with just three hits allowed while he fanned seven, in an outing that was quite like Eovaldi’s five-inning masterpiece out of the bullpen in the 2018 World Series.

In the 13th, however, the Sox did receive a fair share of luck. Kevin Kiermaier struck a two-out double off the wall, which hit the ground only to bounce off the body of right fielder Hunter Renfroe and over the wall. It was called a ground-rule double, and if it didn’t take such a bounce, Yandy Diaz would have easily scored instead of having to halt at third base. Pivetta then set Mike Zunino down swinging to retire the side, which led to the walk-off jack from Vazquez.

While simple math may tell you that the bounce was meaningless considering Vazquez’s homer was a two-run shot while if it wasn’t a ground-rule double it would have been just one run for Tampa Bay, it would have been a momentum change for the Rays.

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

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