A few weeks or months ago, when the AL East race was close and we were all unsure of whether the Red Sox were really going to be good enough in 2013, this game might have been a heartbreaker. However, despite a disappointing loss tonight, today is a day worth celebrating as with the Athletics’ 7-5 loss to Seattle, the Red Sox have clinched home field advantage throughout the entire postseason. There’s no doubt that this was a disappointing game, but certainly not a devastating one by any means.
However, there were a few concerning points highlighted by this game. The first of these is that Jon Lester, who has been on a great run lately, was not nearly at his best tonight. He struggled throughout the outing, his quickest inning being a 15-pitch second inning. Against him, the Orioles garnered an early lead, scoring single runs in the second and third innings. However, the Red Sox’ resilient offense battled back– scoring on a David Ross single in the fourth and a Dustin Pedroia single in the fifth.
Lester gave the runs right back in the fifth, as the Orioles took a 4-2 lead again. However, the Red Sox offense continued to battle, scoring a run in the sixth on another key hit by David Ross. Then, in the clutch, the Sox would put up a big time rally in the seventh inning. Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia reached base to start the inning, and then the Red Sox scored a run on a Jonny Gomes single and then a Daniel Nava single (Nava would go 4-4 on the night) to take a 5-4 lead in the late innings.
However, that would be when another Red Sox weak point would be exposed– the setup role in the bullpen. Junichi Tazawa tossed an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh inning but then struggled when John Farrell left him in for the eighth inning, allowing the first two batters to reach base. In a questionable move, Farrell went to Franklin Morales next, who allowed the key hit of the ballgame– a two-run double down the third base line by Steve Pearce. After that, the Red Sox were unable to muster anything significant as the Orioles went on to win 6-5 and leave the Red Sox at 97-64 through 161 games.