After squandering their five previous chances to edge over the .500 plateau, Daniel Bard and Co. defeated the Tigers 6-3. Thanks to losses from both the Rays and Orioles, the Sox are now only 3 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East.
The team's offensive performance strayed from the Opening Day output against Justin Verlander, who triggered Boston's early tumble by tossing eight scoreless innings on April 5. By knocking the ace around on Tuesday, the Red Sox showed significant progress.
"This is big for our team," Bard said. "In the grand scheme, it's just one game, but to do it against a guy that's the reigning MVP and Cy Young, if nothing else, it's good for our confidence that no matter who the other team is running out there on a given day, we've got a good chance to beat him. He's still one of the best."
It signified an important moment in the season. Nearly a month ago, after blowing a nine-run lead against the Yankees, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called the losing streak "the bottom" and was getting showered with boos at Fenway.
Now, the team has shellacked the reigning Cy Young award winner and claimed a triumphant victory over Detroit without All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia. While the Red Sox won't pop any champagne bottles for climbing over .500, they'll take it.
"I say this is a tough team," Valentine said. "We did it without Dustin on a day where maybe we thought we were going to lose him for a while, all that stuff swirling around. It’s mentally a tough team. They like to play. I'm kind of glad we broke through that artificial barrier."
Since May 11 –– the day of David Ortiz called a team meeting –– Boston has victories in 13 of its last 18 games. In the process, the Red Sox have defended their home turf, taking eight of the previous 10 games at Fenway Park.
The addition of Daniel Nava has also keyed the turnaround. On Tuesday, the outfielder accomplished one of his most impressive feats to date, smacking Verlander's 100 mph fastball into right field for a three-run double.
"Verlander is obviously a good pitcher with great stuff," Nava said. "You don't know how many chances you'll get like that, so for us to have guys on and get him to work a little bit with what he has, we're trying to take advantage of it and make the most of it."
As a whole, the Red Sox have capitalized on their chances. After compiling more walks than strikeouts in his last three starts, Bard tweaked his delivery and limited his mistakes, yielding just two runs and two walks in the win.
Despite claiming a winning record, Nava doesn't want his teammates to become complacent.
"If you look at the scoreboard in the AL East, things are still pretty tight," Nava said. "It's whatever it takes to get a win and I think that's how we're looking at it. Not just like 'Great, we finally got over .500.'"
Still, it's significant progress amid April's subpar start.
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