CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 26: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox (L) high-fives teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 Saltalamacchia hit a two-run home run scoring Youkilis during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox after at U.S. Cellular Field on April 26, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Wednesday's win against the Twins was one of those ones that is more a relief than a pleasure. After getting ahead big early on, the Sox saw Clay Buchholz and the bullpen implode, leaving them barely hanging on to a lead, winning with the tying run on third and the bases loaded behind him.
Tonight there was no comeback, however. The Red Sox got ahead of their paler brethren early, first 2-0, then 2-1, then 7-1, 7-3, and 9-3. Two of the players who had the most difficult starts to their seasons in Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia went deep a combined three times (a grand slam for you, a shot to each side of the field for Salty), and while Felix Doubront seemed to be threatening a collapse at times, it blissfully never arrived.
What did arrive was Junichi Tazawa with an exceptional outing from the pen. Living in the low 90s with a fastball that had some decent tail on it, Tazawa managed to establish his ability to hit the zone with a sharp curveball, and then exploited that credit by dropping it out for strikeouts. While the White Sox managed a few decent hits off him, on the whole it was a very impressive outing (for the old-fashioned save, no less) that should help to establish him as a legitimate member in a very illegitimate pen.
Returning to Doubront, it was not his best night. He struggled to establish the inside part of the plate against lefties, and ended up giving up walks and hitting batters because of it. But, much like Daniel Bard did against Tampa Bay, Doubront was able to survive without his best stuff. It's not the sort of outing he can survive on, but so far he hasn't had to, and if he can avoid real disasters when he's not feeling it, that's a good sign for the rotation long-term.
A feel good win makes it four straight. Tomorrow it's Bard vs. Danks, and hopefully five.