BALTIMORE — A successful baseball season is built piece by piece over six months, some moments and players more significant than others, but all part of the final mosaic.
One of those moments came in the 11th inning of Monday night’s game against Baltimore when Tzu-Wei Lin worked a two-out walk to load the bases.
The 23-year-old rookie saw eight pitches from hard-throwing Miguel Castro and fouled off four of them to stay alive before finally getting to first base.
Andrew Benintendi was next and his two-run single is what gave the Sox a 10-8 victory. Benintendi was the hero, but Lin’s contribution to what was one of the most satisfying nights of the season also was a topic in the clubhouse afterward.
“A great at-bat,” Benintendi said. “That guy wasn’t easy to face.”
“Big moment,” Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “Tough to come off the bench like that, but he showed a lot of patience.”
For manager John Farrell, unexpected contributions help turn ordinary teams into special ones.
“Throughout the course of the season, there’s going to be a number of those things that come up,” he said. “Tzu-Wei had one of them.”
Lin went to the plate not knowing much about Castro other that glancing at a few video clips.
“I just wanted to make solid contact. I was able to foul a few pitches off and have a good at-bat,” Lin said via translator Mickey Jiang. “It was great to contribute.”
Lin was an everyday player in the minor leagues and played considerably for the Sox when he was on the roster from June 24 to July 17. But his playing time in September has been sporadic.
“It’s not a big difference. I try to keep my routine going,” Lin said. “Whether it’s to pinch run, or pinch hit or play defense, I treat it the same way as if I was starting.”
Lin was not invited to major league spring training, his prospect stock having stagnated. But he developed consistency at the plate with Double A Portland and earned a promotion when injuries cut into the infield depth at the majors.
“Getting to the big leagues was always a goal of mine, of course,” Lin said. “Now I’m making progress I want to stay here as long as possible, but that’s out of my hands. When I look back at the whole season I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my abilities.”
As Lin takes a step forward in his career, he checks in frequently with his wife, Kai-Li Jhu, in Taiwan. She is about to have their first child.
“It’s pretty close,” Lin said. “It’s a two-way thing. I wish I could be there but I have work to do. It is what it is but she understands the situation.”
Out by a nose
Dustin Pedroia was available after a foul ball at the plate Monday bounced and hit him in the nose.
“Thought it was best to hold him out a day,” said Farrell, who believes Pedroia should be able to start Wednesday. “He is sore, there’s no question.”
Pedroia, who did not have tests Tuesday, pinch hit in the 10th inning and grounded into a double play. Pedroia stayed in at designated hitter, but did not get up again in the Red Sox’ 1-0 win in 11 innings.
Hanley Ramirez was out of the lineup again after pinch hitting in the ninth inning and striking out. He is likely to start Wednesday. Ramirez has not started since Sept. 13 because of a strained left biceps.
Eduardo Nunez had an extensive on-field workout to test his strained right knee. But he has not been cleared to play.
Nunez is tentatively scheduled for base-running drills Wednesday.
“As the volume ticks up and the intensity picks up, we’ll check and see if base-running is still on tap and see how he responds physically,” Farrell said. “We don’t want to skip any steps.”
The Astros scheduled Justin Verlander to start their game Friday against the Angels. That would line him up to pitch Sept. 27 and not face the Red Sox when the Astros finish the season with four games at Fenway Park starting Sept. 28.
If the standings hold, the Sox and Astros would finish the regular season in Boston on Oct. 1, then start a Division Series in Houston on Oct. 5.
The Red Sox would welcome the opportunity to configure their rotation in such a way that Chris Sale gets extra rest.
But unless they clinch the division title, that may not be possible.
With the team off Thursday, Farrell plans to give rookie third baseman Rafael Devers the day off Wednesday to give him an extended break. The 20-year-old has played 134 games in all this season, his most as a professional . . . Mitch Moreland had a career-high 546 plate appearances, far more than was expected when the season started. The coaching staff has been impressed with how he has held up physically.