Mookie Betts got it started and, more than 5 hours later, he finished it.
His 15th-inning home run rescued the Red Sox from another bullpen meltdown and gave them a 7-6 victory over the Angels early Saturday morning in Anaheim to keep Boston's long-shot, wild-card bid on track.
The win - which began with a leadoff Betts' home run in the first - kept the Sox 5 1/2 out of the second AL wild-card spot with 27 games left. A daunting task indeed but a 5-1 start to their trip out West has Alex Cora's team playing with a sense of urgency they've lacked at times in the up-and-down defense of their World Series title.
"It's going to be hard to pull this off, but we have to get locked in. We have to keep going," Cora said.
Betts' 23rd homer in the wee hours was made necessary by another bullpen meltdown in the ninth inning. Recently minted closer Brandon Workman, called on in the eighth for a four-out save, was protecting a 6-4 lead when he opened the ninth with back-to-back walks, then a one-out hit by Albert Pujols got past J.D. Martinez in left for an error and the Angels had tied it.
The Red Sox' AL-leading 25th blown save was a reminder of why their scrambling to make a last-ditch effort to even reach the playoffs. Still, in addition to Betts' bailout of the pen, there were four no-hit extra innings of relief from Andrew Cashner (11-7), the trade acquisition who flopped as a starter but has found new life in the bullpen (one run allowed in 10 innings over his past six outings).
After the marathon, Betts, who sent the first pitch he saw from Trevor Cahill over the wall in left with two outs in the 15th, was reminded he had started things off with a first-inning homer, too.
Mookie Betts appreciation tweet! pic.twitter.com/jk6IpC8ruY— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 31, 2019
"It felt like yesterday," he told the Boston Globe. "I guess it kind of was yesterday."
Betts and Martinez (two-run homer, RBI double) provided most of the Sox offense as they look to take advantage of the free-falling Angels, who've lost eight of 10, in the three-game weekend series and make up wild-card ground.
"It's a long game, every win is important though and we had to pull ourselves together," Betts told reporters after the game. "I was just trying to put a good swing on a pitch. Fortunately, it went over. I just did whatever I could."
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