Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“This is probably the best win of the year right here,’’ said designated hitter David Ortiz, no stranger to walkoff homers himself, after the Sox climbed back to .500 at 23-23, recording their first walkoff of the season.
Just when it appeared the Rays had spoiled a splendid outing by Josh Beckett, rallying for two runs in the seventh to take a 2-1 lead, Saltalamacchia saved the day, pinch hitting for Marlon Byrd and driving an 0-and-1 pitch from Rays closer Fernando Rodney deep over the Sox bullpen for his first walkoff homer.
“Obviously, tonight was awesome,’’ said Saltalamacchia. “We’ve been working so hard and this team is so close that it was just an awesome feeling to come into home plate with those guys just pumped up.’’
Before the game, Saltalamacchia served as Carlton Fisk’s catcher for the first pitch.
Last night was a classic duel between two very good starting pitchers. When Tampa had the lead going into the ninth and Fernando Rodney was slated to come in, the game was Tampa's. Rodney had come into the game with a 0.38 ERA and was a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities. Enter Jarrod Saltalamacchia as a pinch hitter. First career walk-off via home run, game over, Sox finally work some ninth inning magic and everyone in Boston is happy. Even Josh Beckett who got the ND...
Despite being nearly perfect for the first six innings Saturday night against Tampa Bay, Josh Beckett professed not to care that his dominant outing failed to bring him his fifth win of the season.
A walkoff team victory, he pointed out, makes a no-decision much easier to take.
“That was awesome, that’s a better way to win anyway,’’ Beckett said, not long after Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the ninth inning, lifting the Sox to a 3-2 win at Fenway Park. “If I get no-decisions the rest of my starts this year it’s not that big a deal if we win them all like that.’’
If Beckett continues to pitch like he did Saturday night, he’ll win his share of games. He produced his seventh quality start in nine outings - tops on the team - allowing four hits and two runs in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter for the first time this season, and struck out five.
While it appeared that players’ tempers had simmered down following Friday night’s benches-clearing incident after Franklin Morales hit Rays designated hitter Luke Scott on the leg with a fastball, Bobby Valentine seemed to inflame the situation when he fired back at Joe Maddon, who called out the Sox in a Twitter message following Friday night’s 7-4 Tampa victory.
The Rays manager wrote: “Very proud of our effort 2nite. What occurred in the 9th reeked of intent. Was ridiculous, absurd, idiotic, incompetent, cowardly behavior.’’
Valentine initially balked at responding, but he later lashed out at Rays staff.
“I thought their coaches were really aggressive; as a matter of fact, I took offense to the aggressiveness of their coaches,’’ Valentine said before Boston’s 3-2 walkoff win last night. “I thought it was really unprofessional. I was really proud of the way my coaches were trying to do what they were supposed to do in those situations.’’
As for Maddon’s staff?
“They seemed very immature and out of control,’’ Valentine said. “Coaches are supposed to stop those things from happening and their coaches were aggravating, agitating, and instigating the situation.’’
Asked if he had plans to talk with Maddon Saturday, Valentine replied, “Don’t think so. I didn’t yesterday . . . But I like Joe.’’
Those are some fightin' words. I am on Bobby's side with this one. Joe Maddon is a little more professional than going out on Twitter and commenting on the HBP. That's more of an outlet for players to make their dumb comments, not coaches and managers. It is not the first time we have seen a coach/manager or member of a coaching staff express their thoughts and feelings through Twitter. I would say it heated up the rivalry a bit.
The thing that makes me the happiest of this whole situation is the person who was on the receiving end of the Morales hit-by-pitch. I am glad Luke Scott got hit by that pitch. I've been calling for it for about 3 weeks now and I will cheer any others in the future.
Related: ESPN Boston: Valentine calls Rays' coaches 'immature'
The rest of the links:
Globe: Hometown winner lost in Red Sox-Rays scuffle | ESPN Boston: Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 | Herald: Red Sox rally in 9th for 3-2 win over Rays | Atchison's hard work help turn around 'pen | Sox injury woes a jigsaw puzzle | Gonzo feels the pinch | Beckett in nice groove | Pinch of Salt for Sox | WEEI: Josh Beckett offered another not-so-subtle reminder