Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jason Bay's headlines

Unlike the dozens of writers in the fifth-floor press box, Jason Bay didn't spend the late innings of Friday night's game pounding at a keyboard. But that doesn't mean he wasn't aware of how the sentences and paragraphs probably were coming together as the clock ticked toward deadline.

"I don't know how many guys we left on base in the first eight or nine innings," he said. (It was 13.) "We grounded into a few double plays and left a lot of guys out there, and it was looking like that was going to be the story -- the missed opportunities we had."

Unlike the hacks upstairs, though, Bay had a hand in how the story turned out. His game-tying bomb off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth sent the game to extra innings, and Kevin Youkilis' blast in the bottom of the 11th sent the 38,000-plus home happy.

"A lot of it is going to come down to two swings -- that's what people are going to talk about," Bay said. "But there's a whole heck of a lot else. ... When you dissect it, you realize a lot of things had to go our way."

The left fielder's game-tying home run, which would have traveled 420 feet or so if not for the center-field side of the Green Monster, came four innings after he'd kept the Red Sox in the game with a diving catch in left-center field. He lost the ball briefly in the light but kept running at the spot he expected the ball to land and snatched it out of the air. Johnny Damon scored from third on the play, but with the bases loaded, the catch allowed Manny Delcarmen to wiggle out of a Hideki Okajima-created jam with his team only down two runs.

And Bay, of course, wasn't the only one.

Dustin Pedroia made a great diving stop going up the middle and turned a couple of critical double plays, including one with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning. Mike Lowell made an unbelievable diving catch at third base and doubled off the Green Monster, both feats all the more impressive considering that he runs like he's recently deceased.

Jacoby Ellsbury scored from second on a wild pitch in the first inning. Nick Green singled home the game-tying run in the sixth.

Jon Lester fought through mediocre command to strike out seven and surrender just two runs in six innings. Delcarmen bailed out a woeful Okajima. Takashi Saito, Javy Lopez, Jonathan Papelbon and Ramon Ramirez all pitched scoreless innings. Papelbon even rung up Mark Teixeira, who wants so badly to be a villain in this rivalry, with two men on base in the 10th inning.

Youkilis then provided the capper when he launched a 2-2 pitch deep into the Boston night, his first walk-off blast since last June against St. Louis.

Only then could Bay -- as well as the frantic typists upstairs -- put the finishing touches on the story.

"For most of the game, the headline was 'Missed Opportunities' for us," Bay said. "We had a ton of chances. There's so many things that went into this game right from the get-go that make it a little more exciting and a little bigger than a -- what's the date today? -- regular April 24th game."

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