Jackie Bradley Jr. helps Red Sox defeat White Sox in marathon 14-inning game
It won't go down as the longest game of the 2014 season, but Wednesday's 14-inning affair between the Red Sox and White Sox felt three times as long, with both teams seemingly trying everything they could to lose. By in the end—approximately 12:25 AM in Chicago–Boston held off its Second City counterpart, 6-4, to snap a three-game losing streak.
All told, the game—played in balmy 44-degree weather—lasted five hours and 17 minutes, featured a combined 16 pitchers, and saw the Red Sox go seven straight innings without picking up a hit and 13 innings between extra-base hits. Boston hitters collected 15 walks in the game, including two off Leury Garcia, an infielder pressed into service in the top of the 14th after the White Sox emptied their bullpen. For comparison's sake, 15 walks is three more than Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara has allowed in the last two seasons combined. The game even featured a pitching change in the bottom of the 14th with just one out left, because hey, why not?
For Boston, Wednesday's win was yet another struggle to put up runs, as the team's inability to cash in on scoring opportunities hurt them again and again. The Red Sox went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position; A.J. Pierzynski alone left five runners in scoring position with two outs, though he did contribute a sacrifice fly to get Boston within a run in the eighth inning. Overall, the Red Sox left 16 runners on and didn't pick up a two-out RBI until the very last frame on Jackie Bradley Jr.'s game-winning two-run double.
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The White Sox will be kicking themselves for blowing this game, as they held a 3-1 lead going into the eighth inning courtesy Alexei Ramirez's two-run homer off Clay Buchholz in the sixth inning. But the Red Sox got a run back in the eighth on two walks, a groundout and Pierzynski's sacrifice fly, then used two walks and a single to load the bases in the ninth, resulting in another sac fly, this one from Grady Sizemore, to tie the game. Boston jumped ahead in the 11th on, you guessed it, a sacrifice fly (this one from Jonny Gomes), only to have fill-in closer Edward Mujica blow the save on an RBI single by pinch-hitter Tyler Flowers. Boston threatened in the 12th by putting its first two runners on, but a double play and a strikeout ended that scoring chance.
Thankfully for Boston, John Danks' relatively short outing (six innings) forced the White Sox to use up their bullpen early. The last man in the 'pen, Daniel Webb, turned in a grossly inefficient outing (59 pitches to get nine outs), forcing manager Robin Ventura's hand, and so Chicago went to backup infielder Leury Garcia. Making his professional debut as a pitcher, Garcia–who topped out at 88 mph with his fastball—managed to get the first two hitters of the inning on four pitches before walking Daniel Nava and Jonathan Herrera, then giving up the double to Bradley. Of his 25 pitches—only 11 for strikes—Garcia threw 20 changeups, according to BrooksBaseball.net, and even mixed in what PitchF/X picked up as a knuckleball for one pitch. Garcia didn't get any swings and misses, but did manage to get Dustin Pedroia for the third out, something that will probably earn Pedroia at least a few days worth of jabs from the rest of the Red Sox.
At 14 innings, Wednesday's game was the longest for the Red Sox since another 14-inning affair against the Yankees on Sept. 25, 2011, in the second game of the most interminable doubleheader of all time. The White Sox are used to this kind of marathon; Wednesday's loss was the fourth game since the start of the 2013 season that's gone 14 or longer for Chicago, including a 19-inning game and an 18-inning game. Luckily for both squads, Thursday night's series finale isn't until 8:10 PM ET, with Jon Lester going up against Chris Sale. With both bullpens depleted, Boston and Chicago will hope from long, stress-free outings from their respective aces.