The Boston Red Sox faced overwhelming odds against them as they entered the bottom of the ninth inning. In fact, any fans who had left prior to the ninth inning can be forgiven since the game seemed entirely out of reach for the Red Sox. However, the Red Sox defied the odds and went off to cap off a most improbable ninth-inning rally that allowed them to defeat the Cleveland Indians 6-5 on Sunday.
When the bottom of the ninth inning began, it seemed like nothing more than a formality. The Cleveland Indians, owners of a 5-2 lead, held a 95.0 percent chance of winning the game. All Indians relief pitchers Chris Perez and Joe Smith had to do was to get three outs before the Red Sox scored at least three runs to extend the contest.
The task presented to him was so easy that the other three Indians pitchers who appeared in the contest managed it with very little difficulty. In fact, before the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Sox hitters had not even managed to score more than one run in an inning.
Therefore, Perez was set up in such an attractive situation that he seemed destined for success. That is, until he started pitching and the Red Sox offense took advantage of his miscues. The ninth inning began with Dustin Pedroia, by drawing a walk, and David Ortiz, by doubling to center, both found their way on base; Ortiz’s double advanced Pedroia to third base.
Those two actions alone increased the Red Sox win expectancy all the way to 23.6 percent. Then the rally seemed like it would sputter out before it really even got going. Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia collected an RBI each by knocking in Pedroia and Ortiz, respectively, but grounded out to do it.
The Red Sox had closed their deficit to one run, but they had wasted two outs in the process, leaving them with a win expectancy of 5.4 percent, which is almost as low as when they started the bottom of the ninth inning.
After the second out, however, everything went right for the Red Sox offense. Jonny Gomes drew a walk, Stephen Drew followed that up with a single advancing Gomes to third base, Drew stole second base, Jose Iglesia also drew a walk, and then Jacoby Ellsbury hit a game-winning double that scored Gomes and Drew.
It was an exciting finish to a game that the Red Sox really had no business winning, having dug themselves a three-run deficit at the beginning of the ninth inning. Still, the Red Sox were fortunate and lucky to mount such a comeback to win a game that drew them back into first place in the American League East standings for the first time since May 10.