Red Sox 8, Braves 4: Morales And Middlebrooks Strike Again

Jun 23, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (64) celebrates his home run with Boston Red Sox right fielder Cody Ross (right) during the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

It was a game that was close for all of about two innings--the first and the seventh, for the record--but tonight's win over the Braves was an exciting one nonetheless for the Red Sox.

To start, there's Franklin Morales, who had another electric start in place of Josh Beckett. After early troubles had a run in and two men on with no outs, Morales was lockdown. Getting 12 swinging strikes on just 86 pitches, Morales picked up eight more strikeouts, allowing just five more baserunners after settling down in the first. One of the two runs that would come in his later innings was largely the result of a leadoff bunt and ill-advised throw, too.

Perhaps most impressive for Morales was just how overpowering he could be with his fastball at times. Still throwing 95-96 despite his having been a relief pitcher so recently, Morales challenged multiple good hitters and got them to swing and miss for strikeouts. Bobby Valentine has already confirmed that Morales will see another start, and after a night like this it's hard to disagree with the decision.

Otherwise, it was more of the same for the successful Sox, with one big addition. Will Middlebrooks had another tremendous night, falling a triple short of the cycle, and Daniel Nava picked up a clutch two-out single to really put the game away in the seventh, but it was the three-for-four night with a walk from Dustin Pedroia that really put the exclamation mark on things. The Sox need Pedroia to find his bat again, and tonight was a great sign.

After an awful loss like Friday's, the Sox took care of business tonight. They're not back in another slump, headed back under .500. They're not going to stop hitting just because Jair Jurrjens had a ridiculous night. The train is still rolling, the same men are still at the steering wheel, and now they just may have some more help coming.

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