Jun 2, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Boston Red Sox second baseman Nick Punto (5) is congratulated by right fielder Adrian Gonzalez (28) after scoring in the 2nd inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
The scoreline is pretty standard, and a win behind Felix Doubront is no great surprise, but today's game is the sort that makes you wonder if you're perhaps dreaming.
Because Nick Punto went 3-for-4 with a double and a home run, providing the largest offensive contribution to a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays that left the Red Sox out of the AL East cellar for the first time.
To put things in perspective, Nick Punto had been hitting 132/.266/.151 through the first few months of the season. Between some double plays and questionable swings that bailed struggling pitchers out of bad counts, it was actually becoming an intriguing question whether it wasn't a better idea to send him to the plate without a bat.
Today, however, there was none of that. Nick Punto not only provided three hits, but unlike the first time he did that way back when against Detroit, today they were solid hits, and honestly made the difference in the win. A second-inning double not only brought one run in, but kept the Sox alive for Daniel Nava to single in two more (on what should have been an error by Colby Rasmus, who overshot the ball). And though Alfredo Aceves wouldn't need the help, his homer in the ninth turned a two-run lead into a much more comfortable three-run cushion.
The rest of the runs came from small contributions throughout the lineup, but the other man who deserves recognition is Felix Doubront, who made a good night out of bad luck. Watching him today, a bad start would almost have been excusable. While falling behind in some counts early in the game was solely on him, Doubront was hurt in his outing when he should not have been.
A Jeff Mathis homer came on a pitch that fooled the catcher into swinging outside of the strike zone. Jose Bautista took a pitch on the low, outside corner and left it in the seats as well. And the run in the fourth was just a matter of an error (his own extra effort on a high chopper stopping a ball from reaching Mike Aviles, who would have had an easy out), a bunt, and a blooper. Add in seven strikeouts and one walk, and it was another impressive performance, perhaps all the more so because of his bad luck and how little it seemed to phase him.
The Sox are three games over .500 now, fourth in the AL East, and tantalizingly close to a wild card spot. They go for the sweep tomorrow with Daniel Bard on the mound.