For all the doubts many have about the 2013 Red Sox, they are definitely off to a much better start than the recent two editions of the ballclub (both were winless at this point in 2011 and 2012). The 2013 Sox are now 3-1 after tonight’s 6-4 win vs the Toronto Blue Jays.
Felix Doubront would pitch five plus innings allowing three runs. He walked none and had six strikeouts. But he would give up a total of nine hits, five of them for extra bases (four doubles and a home run). The Sox are really counting on Doubront to take the next step in becoming that reliable middle of the rotation arm they envision him to be. The K/BB ratio on the night was outstanding. The five extra base hits are a concern though. If he can limit them to just singles, he can allow himself more double play opportunities.
The main antagonists on the night were Jose Reyes, Mark DeRosa, and Josh Johnson. Reyes would go four for five with two doubles and home run (the latter would provide a blown save for Junichi Tazawa). Mark DeRosa would hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game in the bottom of the second and a home run to cut the Sox lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Although the Sox hit Johnson rather hard (nine hits, two walks, four runs/three earned), he would hit Jose Iglesias in the right arm with a 93-mph fastball. Iglesias would leave the game with a contusion. With Stephen Drew nearing a return, it might be the last we see of Iglesias for a little while.
The big story on offense was the team finally cracking into the home run category with Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli each going deep. The lineup would also combine for 12 hits and six walks (fan favorite Pedro Ciriaco would replace Iglesias, filling in nicely going two for four with an RBI). Unfortunately, they did strand 33 baserunners. Not my intent to damper anybody’s spirit with that number, but it makes one wonder just how dangerous they really can be with even more timely hitting.
Aside from Junichi Tazawa’s homer to Reyes, the bullpen did a stellar job. Koji Uehara would relieve Doubront with a runner already in scoring position. He would proceeded to strike out the next two batters and induce a flyout to strand the tying run. Andrew Bailey would pitch a scoreless eighth while allowing a hit and a walk. Joel Hanrahan would allow one walk in a scoreless ninth to record save number two on the season.
Tonight’s win assures no worse than a .500 record for the Sox when they return for the opener at Fenway. Hopefully they can steal at least one more before that though. John Lackey takes the hill tomorrow in his first start since 2011.