BOSTON -- There wasn't a lot of offense Saturday at Fenway Park. A perfect game for Red Sox manager John Farrell to push the envelope the moment he had the opportunity.
A contest that saw both Farrell and Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon make their fair share of maneuvers came down to a situation perfectly designed for Farrell to uphold his insistence on aggressive baseball.
A litany of options opened up the moment Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a single with one out in the bottom of the 10th and the score tied 1-1. With Shane Victorino at the plate, Ellsbury stole second and easily raced to third when the throw by catcher Jose Lobaton sailed into center field. Lobaton had replaced starting catcher Jose Molina that inning and is not known to have the arm of his elder, which prompted Farrell to salivate over the possibilities.
Ellsbury figured even without the error the Sox were set up nicely.
"I knew if we got to second we had a pretty good shot at winning that game," he said.
And from third? Even with Maddon electing to utilize his drawn-in, five-man infield, the next move was a no-brainer for Farrell.
"The contact play is something we use consistently," he said of instructing Ellsbury to take off on contact.
Having hit second behind Jimmy Rollins hundreds of times in Philadelphia, Victorino knew how to manage the situation. The Sox right fielder waited for the speedster to move up and then focused on avoiding, at all costs, a strikeout. Victorino admitted he had no clue what Ellsbury had been instructed to do at third base, but understood his only role.
"That's the game right there," Victorino said. "Just trying not to strike out, put the ball in play."
Once Victorino grounded one to a spot that ruled out any play at home, the Sox poured from the dugout with their first walk-off win of the year.
"That's the type of game we want to play. Force the defense to make a play," Farrell said.
Ellsbury knew that his speed severely impacts that play-making capability.
"It almost has to be hit right at them and they have to execute a perfect throw home," he said.
They didn't, and the Sox had justification for pushing the envelope.