Napoli picks up Bailey as Sox sweep Rays
BOSTON -- Mike Napoli won't be nominating his walk-off swing from Monday for his season highlight reel. But the result was something he will cherish.
The slugger was well out in front on a sinker by Rays reliever Joel Peralta but he somehow kept his hands back long enough to drive the ball off the Green Monster with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Dustin Pedroia scored from first on the double, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 win over the Rays in the annual Patriots' Day game at Fenway Park.
Roughly an hour after the game, the Red Sox's walk-off win quickly became an afterthought as the city experienced a tragic explosion at the Boston Marathon. At least two explosions went off at the finish line, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries to dozens of people.
As the Red Sox boarded the bus to the airport for their trip to Cleveland, sirens could be heard outside of Fenway Park. From the press box, a helicopter could be seen circling near the top of the Prudential building. The finish line of the marathon is within a mile of Fenway Park.
The Red Sox were able to depart from Logan International Airport and landed safely in Cleveland.
"Very sad to hear the news coming out of Boston," Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino tweeted. "Horrific. My thoughts and prayers to all those involved."
"Praying for those [affected by the explosions at the marathon," Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury tweeted. "#Godblessboston."
As for the game, it was the second walk-off win in three days for Boston. For Napoli, it was his third career game-ending hit, but first since last July 23.
"It was pretty awesome," Napoli said. "Our fans went crazy. It's always nice to do something to help the team win. I was out in front, but I knew I hit it pretty good. I was just running, then I saw where Pedey was and I saw there was a chance he could score. It was an exciting moment."
Pedroia started the winning rally with a walk. The Red Sox are 8-4 as they head to Cleveland for a three-game series against Terry Francona and the Indians.
"We continue to grind away," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Mike gets a breaking ball up in the zone and Pedey, who has such a feel on the basepaths, there was no hesitation on his part and he scores from first on the double. We walk it off once again. I can't say enough about the way we continued to compete."
Napoli's clutch hit quickly switched the momentum for Boston on Jackie Robinson Day.
With Joel Hanrahan nursing a right hamstring injury, Andrew Bailey got his first chance to close this season, coming on with a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth.
The former closer did not take long to blow the save for Ryan Dempster, who pitched brilliantly. Desmond Jennings led off with a single and then stole second. Ben Zobrist hit a liner to left that Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn't snag on the dive. The RBI single made it a 2-2 game.
Bailey did a nice job minimizing the damage after that, striking out Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce while inducing Ryan Roberts into a popup.
"Hats off to Bails," said Dempster. "I've been there before, closing. When you blow the lead, it's just as important to keep it tied. He did a great job with a runner on second and none out to get out of that inning against the heart of their order. That gave us a chance to do exactly what we did. Sometimes you can look at it as a blown save; just as impressive was his ability to leave that guy at second base and give us a chance to win that game."
Dempster's third start in a Boston uniform was easily his best. The right-hander went seven innings, allowing just two hits and a run. He walked two and struck out 10.
Instead of the win, he got a no-decision. The ultimate professional, Dempster was only worried about the team's result.
"Wins are great. I'd love to win as many games as I possibly can," said Desmpter. "I've always said if I start 34 games in a season and we go 34-0 and I don't win any of those games, I'm totally happy with that. I mean that. Anytime I can start a ballgame and we win that ballgame, that's all that matters."
Just like Napoli picked up Bailey, shortstop Stephen Drew picked up Dempster. With two on and two outs in the sixth, Evan Longoria ripped one up the middle and Drew made a diving stop and somehow released the ball quick enough to get the out at first, though replays indicated Longoria might have been safe.
"He had top spin on the ball, and when it took off, the infield was kind of playing fast because of the day game and stuff," said Drew. "I didn't know if I was going to get it or not. At the end, I knew I was going to have to battle and then get up and throw him out. It was one of those things -- right place, right time."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia put the Sox ahead in the bottom of the fifth when he belted a solo shot to right against Jeremy Hellickson that snapped a 1-1 tie.
"Fastball, up and in," said Saltalamacchia. "Nothing I was really sitting on, but I know they'd been going up and in on me with two strikes, trying to get me to swing under it. I just tried to stay on top of it, not do too much, and it worked out."
Ellsbury got the Red Sox off to a solid start offensively, belting a triple to open the bottom of the first. Victorino did his job, hitting a grounder to second to bring home the first run of the game.
Dempster held the 1-0 lead until the top of the fourth, when Longoria belted a two-out solo shot over the Green Monster to tie the game.
"I think that they're a team to be feared," Longoria said of the Red Sox. "They are a younger team. I think they are a more capable group, as far as being able to do a lot of things offensively, whereas in the past they were more of a kind of drop-and-drive group, where they hit home runs and put a lot of runs on the board that way. But they have some guys throughout the lineup that can really keep it moving. And they put together good at-bats. It makes it tough."