Carp plays role of pinch-hit hero perfectly

BOSTON -- In Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell's mind, coming into close games are the situations Mike Carp was made for.

And Carp finally accepts that.

Spending more than a month on the disabled list with a broken foot -- parked up on the couch in a cast watching his team drop one-run contests time after time -- Carp had a difficult time seeing his job go undone.

"Some of the nights you almost have to turn the TV off when those situations come because you can't be there to help," Carp said. "That's my role, that's my spot and I pride myself on it."

After failing to come through in a similar situation Wednesday, Thursday presented another opportunity for Carp to put a stake on his spot. And he delivered, driving in Daniel Nava from second base and giving the Red Sox their second consecutive walk-off win, defeating the Chicago White Sox 4-3. Walk-off wins accounted for all three victories during this 3-7 homestand.

"This is tough gig to come up here and everybody expecting you to get the game-winning hit when you sat on the bench for three and a half hours," Carp said. "It's nice to even it out every now and then and come up with a big one."

Coming to the Red Sox last season, Carp carved a niche for himself as a late-game pinch-hitter against right-handed pitchers. Having returned from the disabled list Monday, Wednesday presented Carp with his first opportunity to perform that job once more.

With White Sox manager Robin Ventura bringing in Javy Guerra to face Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the eighth in what was then a 4-3 game, Farrell went with Carp to get the job done with runners on second and third and two outs. Instead, Carp grounded out to first, ending the threat.

However, Farrell's trust in Carp didn't waver. Thursday saw Nava reach on a pinch-hit walk to lead off the 10th and advance to second on a Mookie Betts sacrifice bunt. Once Ventura opted to intentionally walk Stephen Drew and his .128 batting average, catcher David Ross was due up. This set the stage for Carp to come through, pinch-hitting for Ross and working a 2-2 count against White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario before punching an opposite-field grounder through the hole between short and third for a base hit. Nava came around to score, giving Carp the first walk-off hit of his career and first hit in general since May 22.

Carp entered the at-bat 0 for his last 19. The RBI was his 11th in 62 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.

"When we've been in those late inning situations he's had a number of opportunities over the course of the last year-plus," Farrell said. "Finally getting back to us here -- that's two consecutive days where he steps up in key moments and today he comes through."

Having reportedly been upset about his sporadic playing time earlier this season, Carp said accepting his role on the team coming off the bench has helped him to produce in those key situations.

"When I did [accept it], good things started happening," he said. "I really prepare myself -- [bench coach Torey Lovullo and I] had conversations going into that inning about when I was possibly going up. It lined up exactly how we talked about it."

In the end, Carp said he was happy to be able to pick up his team after closer Koji Uehara faltered in the ninth to allow Chicago to tie the game up on a two-run home run by Conor Gillaspie, his third in as many days.

"It's just great to come in in a crucial situation," Carp said. "Especially a pinch-hit situation -- my job."