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The Walkoff: Red Sox Lefty Bats, Key Double Plays Lead Way To 7-4 Win Over Rays

By Matthew Geagan, CBSBoston
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Red Sox DH David Ortiz receives a curtain call after his second solo home run in Boston's 7-4 win over the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox DH David Ortiz receives a curtain call after his second solo home run in Boston’s 7-4 win over the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox pounded David Price and the Rays on Saturday night, and head to St. Petersburg with a chance to advance to the ALCS.

Boston took a 2-0 series lead with a 7-4 victory in Game 2, and will look to close the division series out Monday night in Florida. The Sox hit Tampa stater David Price hard, tagging the lefty for seven runs on nine hits in seven-plus innings.

The Key Moment

There were two turning points for the Sox, and they both involved some good glove work in the field.

Boston turned key double plays to end the seventh and eighth innings, and conserved what was a two-run lead at the time.

The first key twin-killing came in the seventh inning, with Craig Breslow on the hill for his second inning of relief. He got Wil Myers to ground out for the first out, but then hit James Loney and walked Evan Longoria to give the Rays two-on and one out.

No worries though, as Breslow got Ben Zobrist to hit a sharp grounder to Dustin Pedroia, and the Gold Glover started a nifty 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and any threat by the Rays.

Junichi Tazawa came on in the eighth, and after retiring Desmond Jennings with a ground out, gave up a single to Delmon Young. It’s been a bit of an adventure when Tazawa takes the hill this season, but the Boston set-up man quickly doused the flames Saturday by getting Yunel Escobar, who was 2-for-3 at the time, to ground into another 4-6-3 double play.

The big question for the Red Sox heading into the playoffs was the bridge to closer Koji Uehara, but Breslow and Tazawa looked more than up to the challenge in Game 2. Breslow also retired the final two batters of the sixth inning, when the Rays chased Red Sox starter John Lackey and cut Boston’s edge to 6-4. The lefty reliever finished the night with 1.2 scoreless innings of work.

The Man (or, The Men)

David Ortiz is the easy choice after a 2-for-4 night with a pair of solo blasts, the first time Price has given up a multi-homer game to a lefty in his career.

But it was all of the Red Sox lefty hitters who deserve credit for this one.

Ortiz, Ellsbury and Drew entered the night a combined 15-for-80 against Price, but went  6-for-11 with four RBIs against him in Game 2.

Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, Ortiz had his homers, and Drew — who hit just .196 against lefties during the regular season — delivered with a clutch RBI triple in the fourth that put Boston up 5-1.

Price’s dominance of the Boston lefties was a big concern heading into the game, but those worries evaporated quickly when two of them (Ellsbury and Ortiz) helped give Boston an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, and never let up.

The Goat

We saw Wil Myers make a play the Fenway faithful may never let him forget about in Game 1, and Tampa’s defense continued to let them down in Game 2.

In the first, Jose Molina’s throw into the outfield allowed a second-base stealing Ellsbury to head to third, and the speedy Sox outfielder scored a batter later on a Pedroia sac-fly. Molina wouldn’t have gunned down Ellsbury to begin with, but he gave him an extra base that allowed Boston to take a 1-0 lead right out of the gates.

Then in the bottom of the fourth, Ben Zobrist airmailed a throw to first that could have been a double play ball. It advanced Jonny Gomes to second, and after a Will Middlebrooks groundout (which could have been the final out of the inning had the Rays turned the double play), Gomes scored on Drew’s triple to left. David DeJesus tried to make a play on the liner, but couldn’t do so against the wall. It’s hard to say DeJesus should have had it, but he probably could have had it.

On the flip side, just to stress how important defense is, Boston turned three double plays in this game, including those key ones to end the seventh and eighth inning. It’s the first time the Sox have turned three double plays in a playoff game since 1918.

Outlook

It looks good for the Sox. Pretty… pretty… pretty good!

They had their way with Tampa’s top two starters, and can close the division series out Monday night against 25-year-old Alex Cobb. The Red Sox saw Cobb four times in the regular season, tagging him for 24 hits and 13 runs in 22.2 innings over four starts.

With Clay Buchholz, who didn’t allow a run in 13 innings against the Rays this season, on the hill and their bats on fire, the Red Sox have to be feeling very confident heading into a potential clinching game Monday night.

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