Saturday, April 25, 2009

Delcarmen, relievers the heroes

Manny Delcarmen was icing his arm in the training room when Jason Bay hit his two-out, two-run home run off Mariano Rivera to tie Friday's Red Sox-Yankees game at 4.

"We were talking about Mariano and what he's done -- and then Jason Bay comes up and hits a home run," he said.

He wasn't about to miss any more theatrics, though, so he made sure he was in the dugout for the extra innings -- a choice that paid off when Kevin Youkilis hit a Damaso Marte fastball somewhere in the direction of the Charles River.

"I was right there at home plate, so that was pretty cool," he said.

Hideki Okajima -- the reliever who Terry Francona said was going to be "an important pitcher in this series" -- allowed a double and three singles, handing the ball over to Delcarmen with the bases loaded and nobody out.

Delcarmen got Nick Swisher to hit a fly ball to shallow left field on the second pitch he threw. Robinson Cano then turned inside-out on a fastball to hit a sinking line drive to left -- and Jason Bay made a diving catch. (Johnny Damon scored from third after the catch, but no one in a red uniform was complaining.) Delcarmen then got Melky Cabrera to bounce to second to end the inning.

Not bad for coming in with the bases loaded and no one out.

"I got a pop-up, and Jason Bay picked me up on a little flare to left," Delcarmen said. "Just giving up one run with the bases loaded and no outs, that's always great. It kept the game intact, and we came back. ...

"It's a tough situation, but it's one of those times for us to come in and show we can handle it. I've done it a couple of times in these couple of years, and I'm just glad Tito gives me the ball in those situations and it turned out for the best."

Delcarmen, though, wasn't the only reliever to wiggle out of trouble.

Javy Lopez had to get out of a jam of his own creation; he hit Mark Teixeira in the ankle and walked Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher to load the bases with -- you guessed it -- no one out.

But the fastball he threw to Robinson Cano was one of the biggest pitches of the game. Cano hit a ground ball right at Dustin Pedroia, playing in on the grass, and Pedroia started a 4-2-3 double play. Lopez then threw back-to-back changeups to Melky Cabrera and got a popup to end the inning.

"It just shows we can handle the pressure of coming into those situations, especially in a tie ballgame or up by one or down by one," he said. "With this bullpen, we have so much depth that we've got to pick each other up to have success. We've been doing that all year."

And no one's even mentioned Takashi Saito, Jonathan Papelbon and Ramon Ramirez; all three pitched scoreless innings in the 11-inning victory.

"It's something our team has expected them to do," starting pitcher Jon Lester said. "We've got a great bullpen, and as long as we keep them fresh as best we can as starters, it's going to pay off throughout the year to have them behind us."

Lester, for his part, was back in the clubhouse for all of it, but that doesn't mean he missed out on the celebration.

"We ran down the stairs like little kids and stood at the door and slapped hands with everybody that came in," he said.

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