MIAMI -- It hadn't been the easiest of nights for the Red Sox. There were baserunning miscues, a couple of blown leads and a seemingly endless gap between big hits on Tuesday night against the Marlins.But by the time the top of the 13th inning came around, the Red Sox
MIAMI -- It hadn't been the easiest of nights for the Red Sox. There were baserunning miscues, a couple of blown leads and a seemingly endless gap between big hits on Tuesday night against the Marlins.
But by the time the top of the 13th inning came around, the Red Sox had the guy they wanted at the plate in Hanley Ramirez, and he paved the way for a happy flight back to Boston by lacing a two-out, two-run double that led his team to a 4-2 victory, the club's fifth straight win.
No one will ever know what might have happened if Marlins manager Don Mattingly had stayed the course and completed the at-bat with Andrew Benintendi, who was up in the count 2-0 with Mookie Betts on second and first base vacated, before he was eventually given the free pass.
Ramirez didn't take offense at the tactical decision by his former manager with the Dodgers.
"They did what they were supposed to do. They've got a righty behind and an open base," Ramirez said.
Ramirez had taken a 98-mph fastball from Tayron Guerrero for ball one and fouled off a 98.1-mph heater on the second pitch. He was still looking for heat, but stayed back perfectly on a slider and roped it into a clean patch of grass in left-center.
"I didn't really want to do it," said Mattingly. "I know how dangerous Hanley is. But Benintendi has got a quick bat, and a good philosophy. Once he gets behind, I didn't want him laying something in there. I wanted to give him a fresh start with Hanley. I didn't expect the slider. I thought he could beat him with velocity, to be honest with you. But we went a different route. Obviously, it didn't work out. Either guy, I didn't feel great about."
A jubilant Ramirez pounded his chest and pointed skyward as he reached second. Heroics are always fun for the slugger, but this was a special homecoming with his three children and several other family members watching from the stands. On Monday night, Ramirez had belted a two-run homer to lead his team to victory.
"It was fun, very fun, and I had my kids watching me play and my whole family, so that's good," Ramirez said. "It will bring a lot of good memories."
Just like that, Red Sox manager Alex Cora's first road trip ended with a 5-1 mark in which four of the wins were by two runs or less.
"We stole that one, honestly," said Cora.
Boston won on a night that ace Chris Sale labored a bit, throwing 93 pitches over five innings. He did minimize the damage, allowing five hits and a run, while walking none and striking out six.
From there, the bullpen chewed up eight innings and everyone was unscored on except Matt Barnes, who surrendered a one-run lead in the bottom of the 11th on a game-tying double by Cameron Maybin.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early gem by JBJ: After Sale fired 27 pitches in the first, his center fielder allowed him to be a little more economical in the second. When Justin Bour lined one to left-center to lead off the inning, Bradley raced in to make a spectacular diving catch that included a tumbling finish. According to Statcast™, Bradley had to cover 65 feet in four seconds and had a catch probability of 32 percent, making it a 4-star grab.
"I feel like I shouldn't be surprised anymore," Sale said of Bradley. "I'm thinking it's a base hit. For him to come up with it, it's huge. He just continues to put on a display out there and obviously impress, and it's hard not to ooh and ahh over what he does out there in center field -- it's ridiculous."
Marlins tie, but Red Sox prolong: Barnes was one out away from completing a victory for the Red Sox, but Maybin came through with a clutch RBI double to left to tie up the game and nearly win it for the Marlins. But Benintendi quickly got the relay to shortstop Xander Bogaerts and he fired home to nail Bour, sending the game to the 12th inning. Bour had a hard time working up a head of steam, as his sprint speed on the run home according to Statcast™ was 24.3 ft/second, which is below league average.
"They didn't panic. That's a good thing," said Cora. "They went at their own pace. Benny picked it up, hit the cutoff man. Long hop to Christian [Vazquez] and they made a great play."
"It's going to to be fun. First game at home, Sox Nation is going to be loud and we can't wait." -- Ramirez on Thursday's Fenway opener.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
On the six-game road trip, every Boston starter allowed one run or fewer, setting a franchise record to open the season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With Jackie Bradley Jr. on third with one out in the eighth and the game tied at 1, Eduardo Nunez hit a grounder to second base. The Marlins had the infield in, and the Red Sox had a contact play on and Bradley tried to score. But Marlins catcher Chad Wallach made a tremendous play, taking the throw from second baseman Starlin Castro, which was on the first-base side of the plate, and spun around to tag out Bradley. The Red Sox issued for a challenge, but the call was confirmed.
BRINSON ROBS BETTS
When Betts led off the 11th for the Red Sox with just the third pinch-hitting plate appearance in his career, he nearly had a go-ahead homer. But Marlins rookie center fielder Lewis Brinson had other ideas with a sensational catch to take a homer away from Betts. Did Betts think he had a homer off the bat?
"Honestly, no, I surprised myself," said Betts. "I didn't think it was going that far. I knew I hit it good, but I didn't know it was going that far. It carried out a little bit. That's a great catch. I think he's one of the better defenders and he showed it there."
"Me and Mookie go back to low A. He used to play second base. We're still boys, I hope. But I've got to keep us in the game. That felt good," said Brinson.
Red Sox: After a dominant first start of the season against the Rays, David Price faces the same team again on Thursday, but this time it is a special occasion -- the home opener at Fenway Park. Price fired seven shutout innings last time out. This game also marks J.D. Martinez's home debut in a Red Sox uniform. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET.
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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.