After more than a week of loss after painful loss, the Red Sox have finally snapped their 10 game streak of futility. It may have taken a rain-shortened game and a last-second homer, but they finally got the job done.
If there was any urgency around the clubhouse, however, Terry Francona didn't show it in the group he sent out their today. The bullpen was given another game all to themselves and, this time noticeably lacking any major leaguers, managed to keep the Blue Jays quiet enough that the lineup featuring all of two starters eeked out just enough runs to give the Sox, at long last, a win.
Facing a major league lineup, Tony Pena Jr. was the first man to take the mound. After a quick first inning, he ran into trouble facing Adam Lind and Aaron Hill, both who have taken the opportunity this spring to announce their return to form for 2011. This time it was Lind with a single and Hill with a double scoring a run off of Pena.
The Sox had his back however, matching the Jays with a Christian Vazquez double and Mike Cameron RBI single to tie things up. With Pena adding a clean third inning, Eammon Portice entered the game to pitch the fourth. Once again, though, it was Aaron Hill putting the Sox behind, knocking his second double of the game and scoring on a Juan Rivera single.
After a short rain delay, the Sox entered into the seventh inning looking at yet another late-game deficit. Neither team had scored since the fourth, and with only three frames to go, it was desperation time for a group that could really use a win, no matter how pointless it may be.
Enter Jeremy Hazelbaker.
With Nate Spears standing on second base, the speedy minor league outfielder showed the results of all the muscle he'd put on over the offseason. With one swing of the bat, Hazelbaker put Boston on top with a two-run homer, and ended over a week of frustration. The Jays couldn't rally in the seventh, and weren't given another shot as the game was called due to rain with the Sox on top 3-2.
The score: Oh my God we got a win!
Jeremy Hazelbaker: While it might not make him an instant Sox legend, the streak-snapping game winner may put him on the map a bit more. His age isn't helping any, but Hazelbaker has some pretty big tools to just be ignored. 63 steals? Double digit homers? Definitely worth a follow.
Dustin Pedroia's attitude: After the win, Pedroia offered the following gem: "Break up the Red Sox!"
The Sox' Grapefruit League record at the end of the slide: 13-19