The bullpen and Will Middlebrooks help the Red Sox get back to .500


Apr 23, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara (19) high fives A.J. Pierzynski (40) after defeating the New York Yankees during the xx inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox have done it! They have finally climbed over the first big hump of the season – they have made it back to .500 with a record of 17-17 after defeating the Reds Wednesday night and completing a two game sweep. While I am obviously being overly dramatic and sarcastic here, this could be a huge step mentally for a team that has been struggling to meet the expectations set by last year’s stellar season.

Jake Peavy came into the game with some solid starts so far, and this was more of the same. Peavy wasn’t lights out by any means, but there were only two innings in which the Reds caused any significant damage. Peavy did not let up a hit until the third inning when LF Chris Heisey doubled. After a sacrifice bunt by Zack Cozart moved Heisey over to third, leadoff hitter Skip Schumaker belted a homerun to give the Reds a 2-0 lead. Peavy then began to mow the Reds’ lineup down in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. He was a little off in the seventh, perhaps due to fatigue, when he loaded the bases with no outs and John Farrell looked to the bullpen to save the game. Chris Capuano did just that getting RF Roger Bernadina to ground out which did allow a run charged to Jake. Burke Badenhop then came in and was able to get the final two outs of the inning. Peavy’s line was a pretty good one with 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB and 4 K on 97 pitches.

The Sox could not get much going in the early portion of the game with Mike Leake pitching very well for Cincinnati. He eventually gave up eight hits on the night, but it took some time for the Sox to grind out some runs. Leake finished with 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB and 4 K. The sixth inning was a big one for Boston. After Herrera led off the inning with a single and Pedroia struck out swinging for one of his four K’s on the night (he was 1-5), Shane Victorino singled to deep left. This brought up David Ortiz who found his “bread and butter” pitch – a fastball slightly inside – to single in Herrera. The next at-bat for Mike Napoli was a great one in which he fought back from behind in the count to double to the opposite field to drive in the tying run.

Craig Breslow came in for the eighth inning to grab a double play and a fly out. With the Red Sox down 3-2, they would need the late game heroics that were extremely common last season, but have seemed to escape them in 2014. Ortiz would strike out swinging, almost deflating the Fenway Faithful. Mike Napoli forced a walk. Then Jonny Gomes walked after pinch hitting for Grady Sizemore, who had the big hit last night. A.J. Pierzynski added another big hit to his Red Sox resume with a ground rule double to tie the game. The Reds then decided to walk Jackie Bradley who was 0-3 on the night to get to the right-handed Will Middlebrooks with a lefty on the mound in J.J. Hoover. Middlebrooks would eventually make them pay with a huge single on a full count to drive in Gomes for the go-ahead run.

Koji Uehara came in for the save and looked like the Koji Sox fans know and love. He threw strikes and threw them quickly. Koji was working all angles of the plate and struck out the side to finish off Cincinnati for his eighth save of the season. Breslow got the win and is now 2-0 on the season.

After the off day tomorrow, the Red Sox will look to move to the positive side of .500 when they travel to Arlington, Texas to take on the Rangers. Texas is 17-16 on the year and currently in second place in the AL West behind Oakland. It should be an interesting pitching matchup with Clay Buchholz (2-2, 5.63) taking on Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.87).