BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox are one win away from moving on to the ALCS after walking off with a dramatic 6-4 win in extra innings over the Rays in Game 3 of the ALDS at Fenway Park.
Christian Vazquez ended a 13-inning classic with a two-run blast into the Green Monster seats off Luis Patino. Vazquez didn’t even start the game for Boston, but he ended it with the biggest swing of the contest.
WALK-OFF INTO THE SERIES LEAD! pic.twitter.com/t8h8VBAGUr
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 11, 2021
Vazquez’s blast is Boston’s first walk-off homer in the postseason since Manny Ramirez launched one in Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS against the Angels. It’s the team’s first postseason walk-off win since Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS against Detroit.
THIS IS OCTOBER BASEBALL. pic.twitter.com/yJhZqNRNxj
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 11, 2021
Nick Pivetta was a star for Boston, taking over in extras and tossing four scoreless innings to earn the win. The righty worked out a jam after walking Randy Arozorena to lead off the top of the 11th, striking out the side. He was pumped up when he walked off the mound after getting Jordan Luplow looking to end the inning, and he was just as amped when he got Manny Margot swinging to end the top of the 12th.
The Red Sox caught a massive break in the top of the 13th, one of those lucky plays that can propel a team to something special in the postseason. Tampa had Yandy Diaz on first, and he was off with the pitch as Kevin Kiermaier rocketed a Pivetta pitch deep to right field. But it hit off the wall in right and then caromed into the bullpen off Hunter Renfroe. After a review, it was ruled a ground rule double and Diaz had to return to third.
Here it is. Rule 5.05(a)(8). It explains the ruling that put Kevin Kiermaier on second and kept Yandy Diaz on third. pic.twitter.com/aBg0fImlIg
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 11, 2021
The Tampa threat was over when Pivetta struck out the next batter, catcher Mike Zunino, for his seventh strikeout. Pivetta, again, was fired up as he skipped off the mound.
Sunday’s win was the longest playoff game at Fenway Park since Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox won that game thanks to a David Ortiz walk-off RBI single in the 14th.
The Red Sox were in an early hole three batters into the game, after Austin Meadows hit a two-run homer off starter Nathan Eovaldi. But Boston got a run back in the bottom of the first when Kyle Schwarber led things off with a solo homer, his second home run of the postseason.
The Red Sox plated two more in the bottom of the third off RBI singles by Kiké Hernandez and Rafael Devers to take a 3-2 lead.
Hernandez continues to swing the hottest bat in baseball, as he crushed a solo homer over everything in left field in the bottom of the fifth to put Boston on top 4-2. That made it seven straight plate appearances with a hit for Hernandez, setting a Red Sox postseason record. In that span, which went back to his 5-for-5 showing in Boston’s Game 2 win in St. Petersburg, Hernandez hit two homers, two doubles and three singles.
He lined out in the bottom of the seventh to end that personal streak. It was also the first time in Game 3 that Boston did not lead off an inning with a hit, as they had in the first six innings to tie a Red Sox postseason record.
On the mound, Eovaldi struck out eight Rays over his five innings of work, throwing 58 of his 85 pitches for strikes. He struck out the side in both the first and second innings, and allowed just three hits and while walking one.
Boston held that 4-2 lead until Wander Franco led off the top of the eighth by taking a 3-1 fastball from Hansel Robles and putting it into the Green Monster seats. Meadows followed that solo homer with a double off the wall, and after Robles got two outs, Randy Arozarena scorched a double to plate pinch-runner Manny Margot and tie the game at 4-4 and end Robles’ evening.
Garrett Whitlock came on in relief and intentionally walked Kiermaier to set up a righty-righty matchup with Zunino. Whitlock got the Rays catcher looking at a 98 MPH sinker to end Tampa threat. He also tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.
Combined, the Red Sox and the Rays used 16 pitchers in Sunday’s extra-inning classic. It took five hours and 14 minutes, with 389 pitches thrown.
The Red Sox can punch their ticket to the AL Championship Series with a Game 4 win Monday evening at Fenway Park. Pivetta was set to start that game for Boston, but the Red Sox probably won’t complain about having to find a new pitcher to take the mound on Monday.