These wins are the type of wins that are like money in the bank; when it comes to September and it is tight, an extra one of these will pay dividends.
The Red Sox, who already won the series after collecting three victories of four runs or more, did not let the Astros out of their grasp.
Here are the four bases:
First Base: When John Lackey walked two of the first three batters he saw and 27 pitches in the first inning, his first start since injuring his bicep looked like it was going to be a short one. But then something happened, something extraordinary. Lackey became something Red Sox fans have never seen before: efficient. He threw as many pitches in the first inning (27) as he did during the next three innings (27 combined in innings 2 thru 4). Watching him today felt like eating a warhead; sour at first, and then a nice, sweet tasting hard candy.
Second Base: David Ortiz going down last year really punched a big hole in the sails of the 2012 Red Sox season. Right now, Ortiz looks like he is trying to repay for the production that he did not give last year, and he is adding a little interest. He is now on a 20-game hitting streak dating back to July 2 of last year, hitting .516 and collecting 11 RBI in just seven games. Whoever thought that Ortiz’s two-year contract was just for publicity reasons thought wrong.
Third Base: It is one thing to punish a starting pitching staff, and then it is another what the Red Sox did to the Astros. Houston starters pitched only 17 innings in four games, an average of just over four innings per start. What’s more? They had a 10.59 ERA in the series and gave up 2.52 hits and walks on average per inning. The bullpen had to pitch 19 innings, and the only pitcher who did not pitch from the Astros was Lucas Harrell, who is supposed to start tomorrow against the Yankees.
Home Plate: Daniel Nava‘s diving catch in the ninth inning against Robbie Grossman not only was an exclamation point to end the series, but an underscore for how well the Red Sox defense has been this year. Do a quick scan of team fielding from baseball-reference.com, and you’ll find that the Red Sox are fourth in the majors overall. They are also tied for second in the majors in errors committed with just 10, and that includes the three they committed this weekend.
Beyond the Diamond… Shane Victorino sat for his fourth consecutive game today with his lower back injury. The Red Sox have an off-day tomorrow, and Farrell will probably make a decision as to whether Victorino makes the trip to Toronto or to the disabled list… Joel Hanrahan and Craig Breslow both made rehab appearances in the Pawtucket Red Sox’s 6-5 loss to the Columbus Clippers. Breslow could not make it out of the sixth inning, giving up a hit, a run and two walks, while Hanrahan pitched a scoreless eighth, walking only a batter…
(Photos Courtesy of Mary Schwalm / Associated Press)
AP Photo/Mary Schwalm