53-33: Sox lose a heartbreaker in 13 innings

It was a monster of a game, a four-and-a-half hour affair at Comerica Park that ended with the Red Sox dropping their second straight game to the Detroit Tigers, 3-2.

Starter Kason Gabbard left it all out on the field tonight. Going up against Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman, who narrowly missed the All-Star team this year, many people were not expecting much from the young lefty. But for 6 1/3 innings, Gabbard matched Bonderman in a gritty battle. He left the game a 2-2 tie, and it would remain that way for six more frames. Bonderman went eight strong innings, only giving up a two-run homer in the first inning.

Boston’s bullpen was brilliant, with Manny Delcarmen ending the threat in the seventh, and Hideki Okajima lasting 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Okajima escaped a heart-stopper in the 10th inning, when he got Curtis Granderson to ground out with the bases loaded and no outs, and Ivan Rodriguez was nailed at the plate trying to score. Mike Timlin gave a pretty strong 1 1/3 innings, but with the Detroit bullpen in lock step, it just kept going on and on.

It was not like the Sox didn’t have their chances. In the sixth, David Ortiz was on third with one out, and J.D. Drew struck out and Mike Lowell popped out. Top of the 8th, with runners at first and second, Manny Ramirez and Drew couldn’t get it done. Coco Crisp doubled to lead off the 10th inning, and was moved over to third base. With one out, Jim Leyland chose to walk Ortiz and face Manny. The gamble paid off, as Ramirez hit into a double play to end the inning. In the top of the 12th, Kevin Youkilis came in to pinch hit for Drew with the bases loaded versus lefty Bobby Seay, and flied out. ESPN points out that the Sox were 0-11 with runners in scoring position on the night, after the first inning. In all, we left 25 runners on base, an incredibly frustrating statistic.

Then came the bottom of the 13th. Jonathan Papelbon hit Gary Sheffield to lead off the inning, and Sheffield proceeded to steal second. A single by Rodriguez with two men gone brought home the winning run. Crisp sped into the right-center gap and missed making a spectacular grab on that ball by mere inches. Everything was so close in this one.

Big Papi reached six times on the night and hit his 14th HR of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning. But it just wasn’t enough tonight against Bonderman and this pitching staff. When we reached extra innings, I thought for sure we had this game sewed up, because the Tigers have had bullpen problems, but it just didn’t work out. We could have, we should have won this game. As it is, a great effort by Gabbard was wasted. When are we going to see some hitting with men on base?

Detroit second baseman Placido Polanco left the game in the eighth with a rib cage strain and is considered day-to-day.


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