We’ve seen this before, right?
The Red Sox seemingly get their hearts ripped out of their you-know-whats one day. Then, they come back the next day with a flawless performance.
The all-too-familiar narrative played out once again during the final two games of the Red Sox’ series in San Francisco. After suffering a crushing, walk-off loss on Tuesday, the Red Sox responded with one of their better all-around efforts of the season on Wednesday. Felix Doubront tossed eight fantastic innings, the offense banged out 12 hits and the Red Sox rolled past the Giants 12-1 in the rubber match.
It was a nice win for the Red Sox at a time when they could use a pick-me-up. The Red Sox had dropped three straight series after losing two of three to the Yankees over the weekend, and they were in jeopardy of making it four straight series losses because of Tuesday’s defeat. More importantly, they were on the verge of falling behind the Rays in the standings for the first time this month, and it all came with a three-game series against the red-hot Dodgers looming large.
But, as is the case with the common plot of 2013, the Red Sox blocked out the noise. They replaced panic with tranquility — for a day at least — by simply showing up and taking care of business in all three facets of the game.
It started with Doubront, whose only blemish was a solo homer off the bat of Joaquin Arias in the second inning. He lasted eight excellent frames, surrendering just one run on five hits while striking out three and walking one. He wasn’t overpowering, but he was in total control, especially after the second inning.
“Once he got settled into the flow of the game, as we know it, he’ll work to find his release point in the first inning or two. We gave him a lead, he continued to use all of his pitches and I thought his curveball and his changeup were two that really slowed them down,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s an aggressive-swinging team, and he was able to carry that rhythm and just the overall approach through the full eight innings of work. Just a very good offensive day and he was able to continue to put up zeroes.”
The good offensive day was spread throughout the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino had three hits apiece. Dustin Pedroia added two knocks. Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew homered. And Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each drove in two runs.
“When you look at the bottom half, we’re driving in runs,” Farrell said. “It was very good production up and down. Will has come back to us and really swung the bat well in the time back here. He gets us on the board first with the two-run homer and, like I said, a lot of quality at-bats today.”
Middlebrooks’ two-run shot in the second inning opened up the scoring, and the Red Sox built a 6-1 lead by the fourth inning. Boston then put the game away in the seventh when Saltalamacchia extended his hitting streak to nine games with a two-run single and Drew connected on a three-run bomb over the right field wall.
Because the Red Sox were in complete control, they were also able to give David Ortiz some extra rest, get rookie Xander Bogaerts into the game at third base and try out Middlebrooks at second base (a position he’s never played). It was all just icing on the cake, but it made the victory that much more valuable.
“We were able to take a look at some other things,” Farrell said. “We talked about Will getting to second base in the event that something happened to Dustin. He turns a double play, makes a nice backhanded play up the middle. But just on the heels of last night, [it was] just a good way to come out in a day game and put up a good strong effort.”
Wednesday’s game wasn’t a must win, and the Red Sox didn’t really make any profound statement with the victory. In fact, we probably won’t even remember it at the end of the season. However, we should remember this performance the next time the Red Sox briefly slip up, which is inevitable given how this season is playing out.
Taking things one day at a time is the cliche of all cliches. It’s also a perfect job description of this year’s Red Sox.