For the 8th time this season and first since June 8th, the Boston Red Sox are at the .500 mark (33-33) after a 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night in the Windy City. They've gotten back to .500 by winning four of their last five games.
Franklin Morales stepped in for the injured Josh Beckett and was absolutely outstanding on the mound. In his first start since 2009 when he was a member of the Colorado Rockies, Morales allowed two runs on four hits while striking out nine in five innings of work.
The first run he allowed came in the 1st when Reed Johnson led off with a double and came into score on a Starlin Castro triple. The other run came in the 3rd after Dustin Pedroia dropped a popup that allowed Darwin Barney to reach first. Barney would come around to score on a Castro double.
But Morales was successful in his first start with the Red Sox by pounding the strike zone. He threw 80 pitches in his five innings with 65 of them going for strikes. Folks, that's a spectacular number.
His fastball was electric as his velocity was routinely between 93-95 mph and with his slow change, he was able to keep the Cubs hitters at bay for the most part. He also mixed in a nice curve in there as well.
You definitely have to be encouraged by the start for Morales which was probably good enough to earn himself another start when Beckett's turn comes up again on Saturday.
A lot has been made about the struggles that Dustin Pedroia has had since returning from the thumb injury.
But with his "dad", Terry Francona in the house with the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew, Pedroia 2-for-5 with an RBI. It was his double in the 1st that scored Scott Podsednik that got the Red Sox their first run of the night. Pedroia came around to score two batters later when David Ortiz singled him home.
Big Papi continued his hot hitting against lefties when he homered against Paul Maholm in the 4th. Ironically enough when he came up again, Maholm got him to pop out on the same pitch he had homered on in the previous at-bat.
The Red Sox defense failed Matt Albers who still got the win in the 6th.
Kevin Youkilis made an error on the leadoff hitter in Barney. Castro picked up his third hit of the night when Albers and Kelly Shoppach couldn't decide who was going to field the ball hit by Castro in front of the plate. After getting Alfonso Soriano to ground into a fielder's choice, an another fielding gaffe happened when Jeff Baker grounded back to Albers who threw to second but both Pedroia and Mike Aviles were covering the bag at the same time with Aviles dropping the ball. That run tied the game at three.
The offense got it back in the 7th when Darnell McDonald scored on a Ryan Kalish single. Jarrod Saltalamacchia came into score on a Will Middlebrooks sac fly to push the lead to 5-3. Kalish ended up at third on a throwing error and then came into score on a safety squeeze by Daniel Nava. They would add another run in the 8th when Salty grounded into a fielder's choice.
Andrew Miller was a little wild in his 2/3 of an inning but was helped out Mark Melancon and then Scott Atchison. Alfredo Aceves wasn't sharp in his inning of work allowing three hits and a run. But still a solid effort from the pen to pick up one of their own.
We've seen the Red Sox get to .500 before only to yo-yo around the mark. The highest they've gotten above .500 is three games. Hopefully they can continue this little hot streak and keep their record above .500 the rest of the way. If they don't, we could be in for a long summer as it looks like the New York Yankees are trying to pull away after winning their 9th straight game yesterday.
The Red Sox will enjoy a day of rest today and get back to action on Tuesday when they welcome the Miami Marlins to town. We'll be back later with the pitching matchups for the series. So for now, let's take at look at the overnight links from the media by clicking on the read more button below if you're on the home page.
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Spot on in his spot start [Boston Globe]
Different point of view from dugout [Boston Globe]
Diving back into action [Boston Globe]
Sweeney (toe) added to DL [Boston Globe]
Poison among ivy [Boston Herald]
Welcome back, Kalish [Boston Herald]
For Morales, outing a complete success [Boston Herald]
Childhood development [Boston Herald]
Good timing: Gonzalez gets first day off of season [CSN New England]
Red Sox take rubber game of series over Cubs, 7-4 [CSN New England]
Morales proves fit for spot starter's role [CSN New England]
After whirlwind day, Kalish comes through for Sox [CSN New England]
Podsednik (groin), Youkilis (toe) should be OK [CSN New England]
Rapid reaction: Red Sox 7, Cubs 4 [ESPN Boston]
Olney: Trouble brewing [ESPN Boston]
Morales earns another start with solid outing [RedSox.com]
Adrian out of lineup for first time this season [RedSox.com]
Ross, Bard have productive days at Pawtucket [RedSox.com]
Crawford ramping up throwing program [RedSox.com]
Sweeney to get break, goes on DL [RedSox.com]
Podsednik exits with mild left groin strain [RedSox.com]
The making of Franklin Morales: His path to the Red Sox and effectiveness [Alex Speier - WEEI.com]
photo credit: Getty Images
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