For the third straight game, the Sox put up some big runs early, and held the lead late, this time earning a 7-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the battle of the former aces, only one starter seemed to capture some of their old magic. That man was not Chien-Ming Wang. We could go over the full inning at length, but suffice it to say Wang was not good. He threw balls, the Red Sox took them. He left pitches over the plate, the Red Sox hit them. TThe first seven batters would reach base, and Dustin Pedroia capped off the inning with a two-run homer that just cleared the Monster, leaving the Red Sox ahead by a remarkable seven runs with Wang already out of the game.
There was a bit of luck mixed in--Jose Bautista made just about the worst play you'll see on a fly ball, and there was an infield single mixed in--but in general this was just Wang being bad, and the Red Sox being good.
So that's that. The Red Sox offense went to sleep afterwards, but that was by-and-large fine, because--and this is by far the more interesting half of things--Jon Lester was back. He started his outing by allowing a walk to Jose Reyes, and then got to work. A double play got him out of the first with just three batters faced, and it wasn't until a second walk in the fourth that the Jays god another baserunner. Sure enough, an Edwin Encarnacion ground ball erased that walk right after, and Lester was done with four innings having faced the minimum.
The fifth inning finally left Lester with some trouble, courtesy of a Maicer Izturis double that plated two, but rather than melting down, Lester repsonded with a 1-2-3 sixth, and a 1-2-3 seventh.
Unfortunately, though, his night was not done, and here's where what could have been a brilliant, encouraging start picks up a stain or two. A pair of ground balls squeaking through would not have been such a big deal, but Lester went to 2-0 against Emilio Bonifacio, and after a 3-0 pitch, out came the trainers. With Lester apparently suffering from a gimpy hip courtesy of an awkward landing on the mound, his night was done, and Junichi Tazawa could not keep his runners on the bases, allowing two runs to score and leaving Lester with four earned runs. Koji Uehara was even forced to come in to finish the job in the ninth.
It's unfortunate that this is how it ended for Lester. But likely not terribly pertinent, either, assuming the injury is as minor as it sounds. Yes, it would've been nice for him to see his ERA drop. But we saw it, and he lived it: that was a good start. Something he has avoided for more than a month now.
And, for the team as a whole, those runs mean little. They didn't implode in dramatic 2011 fashion when they gave a couple back, and in the end, this never really felt close.
It remains to be seen whether this is just a blip on the radar, or the start of something bigger. For now, though, it's a bit of relief for a man who has had more and more weight added with every passing start.
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