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Eli gets the win for Red Sox

If you look at the box score for the American League Division Series championship that the Boston Red Sox pulled off last night, you’ll notice that the winning pitcher of an intense and hard-fought 3–1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays was a guy named Breslow. That’s Craig Breslow ’02, one of two Elis on the Red Sox roster. (Indeed, he and Ryan Lavarnway ’09 are the only Yale alums playing in the major leagues.)

“He's been, I don't want to say an unsung hero, but he's flown under the radar most of the year.” Red Sox manager John Farrell said as the champagne flowed.

As Skylar Shibayama '16 of Yale Sports Publicity points out, Breslow is the first Yalie to play in the postseason since pitcher Ron Darling ’82, whose last playoff appearance was with the A's in 1992.

With the Sox down 1–0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, a Rays runner on first, two outs, and the pesky James Loney coming up to bat, Farrell opted to relieve starting pitcher Jake Peavey, who’d pitched exceptionally well, with Breslow, a left-hander. At that point the game, perhaps even the series, was on the line. A Sox loss would tie the best-of-five series at 2–2 and give the Rays plenty of momentum heading into the winner-take-all game.

Not to worry. (Right—you might as well tell Sox fans not to breathe.)

Breslow promptly struck out Loney to end the inning.

The Sox went ahead 2–1 in a wild top-of-the-seventh, and Breslow came back out to pitch. He appeared calm. “Once I got in there and got ahead of Loney, things slowed down a little bit," said Breslow, who promptly struck out the next three Rays batters—the heart of the Tampa Bay lineup.

In an unusual move, Breslow also came out in the eighth inning, inducing the first batter to ground out before giving way to another Sox reliever. According to published accounts, this was only the second time this season that he’s pitched over parts of three innings in a game. “In these situations, you’re feeding off adrenalin and off momentum,” he explained.

Whatever he’s been feeding on worked: Breslow has appeared in three of the four games of the series and not given up a run in 3.2 innings. It’s a performance that Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey called “unbelievable,” adding, as he poured champagne and beer over the winning reliever, “This guy, what a stud.”

Looks like Breslow made the right decision not to go to med school.

Filed under Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox, baseball
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