Oh yeah, that's what it feels like when the Red Sox win...
We can all relax a bit, as the Red Sox earned their first victory of the season, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2. Behind a solid if inefficient starting performance from Felix Doubront and an impressive relief showing by Scott Atchison, the Sox stayed within striking distance all night. A wild performance by Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos and some clutch hitting by right fielder Ryan Sweeney allowed the Sox to go ahead, and Alfredo Aceves put at least some of our fears to rest with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Obviously it's great to get that first W in the column, and that's the main takeaway for most of us. But the Sox showed us a few other things tonight that should be important going forward.
The big story, of course, was Felix Doubront. Doubront came into spring training this year after a woeful, injury-plagued 2011. He was seen as rotation depth at best, and more likely as bullpen material. But a strong spring (and a lack of minor-league options) convinced Bobby Valentine to give him a starting spot, and tonight, at least, he appeared to earn it. Doubront went five innings, striking out six and walking three, and allowing two earned runs on four hits. He featured a solid four-seamer and a curveball that flashed dominance on occasion. It was really a very encouraging first outing, marred only by its shortness, a result of his Daisuke-level inefficency (101 pitches to get through five).
Even more impressive was Scott Atchison, who held the Jays down for three innings of scoreless relief, saving the already-battered bullpen. Atchison allowed only one hit and struck out three, needing only 31 pitches to get through his outing. Alfredo Aceves pitched a quick ninth, striking out one. A good outing from the bullpen, and given recent results, a miracle.
On the other side of the ball, the Sox had some trouble with Jays starter Henderson Alvarez. While not dominant in strikeout terms, Alvarez held Boston to four scattered hits, with only Dustin Pedroia's first home run of the season doing any damage.
However, in the ninth inning down a run, the Sox were able to take advantage of several Toronto miscues to gain the lead. Dustin Pedroia started the rally with a leadoff double against Sergio Santos, took third on a passed ball, and scored the tying run on an Adrian Gonzalez sac fly. Santos was able to strike out Youk, but then lost all ability to find the strike zone. He walked David Ortiz and Cody Ross, and gave up a single to Ryan Sweeney, which scored pinch-runner Darnell McDonald. Ross would later score on a wild pitch, and that was that.
The offense came up big late, the bullpen did its job, and the Sox got a fine performance from a young starter. A great way to get the first win of the year. Here's to 90 or so more.