By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON It wasn't meant to be for Tim Wakefield tonight, but the same certainly can't be said for Jacoby Ellsbury.
On a night when the 45-year-old right-hander was seeking the ultimate birthday present by capturing his 200th career win in front of the home fans at Fenway Park, it was Ellsbury who once again stole the show.
The Sox center-fielder crushed a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning for a solo homer to the center field bleachers and powered the Sox a 4-3 victory at Fenway Park with his 18th bomb of the year.
It was the second straight walk-off hit for Ellsbury in consecutive nights and continues a magical comeback campaign for the leadoff hitter extraordinaire. It was also the seventh walk-off win of the season for the Sox.
Cleveland wasnt without its own highlights in this one though.
Rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis hit a home run in his fourth consecutive game, Ezequeil Carrera knocked in the game-tying run and Carlos Carrasco matched Wakefield pitch-for-pitch on what he wanted to be his big day at the Fens.
A David Ortiz two-run double in the first inning gave the Sox an early lead, and Wakefield got his potential winning run when David Ortiz scored on a potential double play broken up by Josh Reddicks hard slide into second base.
Unfortunately for Wakefield he came up just short in his second attempt at his 200th career win when a pair of doubles erased Bostons 3-2 lead. The Carrera ground-rule double down the right field line was the final straw for Wakefield. The venerable knuckler was pulled by Terry Francona in favor of reliever Randy Williams, and set up the ninth inning heroics.
The Ellsbury home run made a winner out of Jonathan Papelbon (4-0) after working a scoreless frame in the top of the ninth.
Player of the Game: Jacoby Ellsbury might just take this away as an honorary award. For the second straight night Ellsbury collected the walk-off hit and this time did it in style with a bomb to centerfield in the bottom of the ninth. It was Ellsburys 18th home run of the year after sitting at 20 home runs for his career heading into this season, and continues his sterling resume for both Comeback Player of the Year and MVP when votes are cast at the end of the season. Ellsbury has really tossed the team on his back over the last few months and is playing like a superstar in the words of David Ortiz. Ellsbury has been Bostons best player from beginning to end this season, and now hes doing it in the clutch as well.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth to notch the victory and was also the winning pitcher in Tuesday nights game against the Indians as well. Papelbon has allowed zero runs and only one hit over his last eight games with 10 strikeouts, and has been nearly automatic at the back end of the bullpen this season. Though ERA is highly overrated for relief pitchers, Papelbons number has dropped to 3.35 for the season as well.
The Goat: Terry Francona elicited plenty of boos from the crowd when he stalked out to the mound to take the ball from Tim Wakefield in the seventh inning with the game tied at 3-3 and it seemed the booing was two-fold at Fenway Park. Some wanted to see Wakefield pitch his way out of the inning and perhaps claim that 200th career victory with a Sox rally in the bottom of the seventh, and some thought the Sox skipper should have gone to the bullpen after six full innings from the 45-year-old Wakefield. Certainly Francona must have been trying to coax an extra inning out of Wakefield with Erik Bedard starting on Thursday with a limited pitch count, and it didnt work out this time around.
Turning Point: Randy Williams came into Wednesday nights game with a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning and the go-ahead run in scoring position for the Indians, and the left-hander managed to wriggle out of the jam by fanning Cleveland slugger Asdrubal Cabrera. Williams then pitched a clean eighth inning before handing the ball off to Papelbon for the ninth, and gave the Sox exactly what they were looking with two strikeouts and no hits in 1 13 innings of relief. Once Williams had shut down the Tribes rally, the door was open for the Sox to engineer a late inning rally.
By the Numbers: 0-for-4 the numbers next to Jacoby Ellsburys name in each of the last two games when he stepped up to the plate with the game on the line in the ninth inning, and then promptly delivered in both instances.
Quote of Note: I didnt know what to do with myself when I was running around the bases. I was excited. I had never experienced that in the big leagues and it was fun. Jacoby Ellsbury talking about the rush of slamming a walk-off home run at Fenway Park.