Fenway Park

Pivetta, Vazquez lift Red Sox to 2-1 ALDS lead

Monday morning, and people aren’t yammering about the Patriots’ flaws in an ugly win, or the Boston Marathon running on Columbus Day.

How ‘bout them Red Sox?

It is a signature affirmation in New England, be it in good times or bad. Its versatility is key; shout it during 10-game winning streak or growl it after a particularly annoying loss. Embellish it by dropping the earthiest expletive between “them” and “Red Sox.”

Today it not only affirms the Red Sox’ heart-pumping, 13-inning win Sunday over the Rays, but can offer a reminder of baseball’s seemingly smothered status as an everyman sport.

A ballplayer need not slide off the assembly line reserved for exceedingly ripped souls whose body mass contains .0001 grams of fat. He can look like a twig or be built like a fireplug.

Which brings us to Sunday evening’s Fenway Park heroes, the primary providers in the 6-4 win that left Boston with a 2-1 AL Division Series lead.

Today’s twig is Nick Pivetta. When last seen, Pivetta was trudging toward the visitors clubhouse at Tampa Bay’s clown castle of a ballpark, unable to make it through the fifth inning of the Rays’ 5-0 win in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had Pivetta jog onto the mound to pitch the 10th inning. Pivetta was also out there for the 11th, 12th, and 13th innings.

His finest work was in the final frame. With two outs and a man on first. Kevin Kiermaier hit a line drive to right-center, sailing toward the Red Sox bullpen.

What is being referred as The Big Break arrived.

The ball hit the bullpen wall, hopped off the dirt and into right-fielder Hunter Renfroe, deflecting into the bullpen.

Yand Diaz, still on first base after his single to lead off the inning, was stopped at third. Kiermaier was stopped at second.

The Rays, in bewildered belligerence, demanded Diaz be allowed to score.

Only the rule book over-ruled the Rays’ defiance. It was a ground rule double. Had the ball not touched the ground and deflected off Renfroe and into the bullpen, it would have been a two-run homer.

Jose Canseco could testify to that ruling. He may still have a knot on his noggin after heading a ball over the fence at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium all those years ago.

Pivetta fanned Mike Zunino to end the inning and his night’s efforts: four innings, zero runs, three hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts.

Today’s fireplug is Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. Tampa Bay’s ninth pitcher of the game, Luis Patino served up a fastball that Vazquez sent sailing gently over The Wall.

Vazquez did his home run sprint around the bases, flipped off his batting helmet and took the celebratory pounding from his teammates.

A legend was born … as long as the Red Sox win the series.

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