Morales’s Strong Start And Three-Run Seventh Lead Sox To 7-4 Win
By Conor Duffy
This was a series that the Red Sox really needed to win and last night, heading into a rubber match, was a must-win game. With a win, they would remain a game back of the Blue Jays for fourth place (pretty ambitious, right?) and get to the .500 mark. Things weren’t looking so good after Josh Beckett— the scheduled starter– headed to the DL with right shoulder inflammation and Franklin Morales was slated to start. The Red Sox played a somewhat sloppy game, but managed to win regardless.
Their offense never had a problem with either Paul Maholm or the bullpen as the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead after the first two batters on an RBI double by Dustin Pedroia. After Pedroia got to third on a fly ball to right by Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz drove him in with a single to right. One of those runs would be neutralized in the bottom of the first when Starlin Castro knocked a blooper by right fielder Darnell McDonald that would fall for an RBI triple to cut it to 2-1. The Cubs tied things up in the bottom of the third when Darwin Barney scored on a dropped pop up by Dustin Pedroia– there was a miscommunication between Pedroia and Darnell McDonald but inexcusable nonetheless.
There were no worries for the Red Sox, though, as David Ortiz led off the fourth inning with a go-ahead home run to center field, making it 3-2. It stayed at 3-2 for a little while, past the fifth inning– after which Franklin Morales was taken out. Morales pitched very well after a shaky first inning, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs while striking out a remarkable 9 in just 5 innings of work. However, he would not earn the win as Matt Albers “blew a save” due to some shaky defense. The Cubs put runners at the corners after an error and a mistake by catcher Kelly Shoppach— both of which were not Albers’ fault. They would score one when Matt Albers tried turning a double play on a dribbler hit back to hit but made an errant throw which allowed the Cubs to tie the game at three.
The Red Sox’ biggest offensive output would come in the seventh, when they started things off by putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Newly recalled Ryan Kalish gave them the lead with a bloop single into center. Will Middlebrooks made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Finally, they got their third run of the inning on a gutsy suicide squeeze with Daniel Nava at the plate. Jarrod Saltalamacchia reached base and drove in a run in the eighth on an RBI force out.
The Cubs would get one more run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by David DeJesus. However, the Red Sox’ bullpen corps held the lead in a 7-4 win in a game where basically every pitcher contributed in some capacity. Franklin Morales, Matt Albers, Mark Melancon, Scott Atchison, and Alfredo Aceves all pitched– with only Aceves allowing an earned run. This just shows how good the Red Sox bullpen has been at shutting the door this season, with everybody who pitched last night either being or expected to be a key part of the ‘pen. It’s good to see things coming together for the Sox and a win tonight would put them over .500!