We have seen in recent days that wins do not all come with great difficulty. That sometimes drama is at a minimal, and heart attacks do not lurk around every corner. Friday, however, the Red Sox provided plenty of drama--perhaps even too much, were it not for the 7-5 W waiting at the end.
It sounds silly to say that this one didn't have to be so hard. After all, Allen Webster vs. Josh Johnson is not a matchup Red Sox fans dream about, with Webster coming off back-to-back disasters and Johnson in the midst of an excellent June. Simply staying in this game should have been seen as a reasonable achievement, much less winning it.
And yet...it could have been easier. Particularly when you consider where the Red Sox were after the early innings. A half-triple by Stephen Drew, half-error by Colby Rasmus on a long fly ball almost to the wall in center field plated two runs for the Red Sox in the second, Mike Napoli singled home a third in the third, and Jacoby Ellsbury smacked a line drive single to make it five runs for the Red Sox before the fourth inning was over.
Allen Webster, meanwhile, had been...impressive, solid, efficient. Ground ball after ground ball after ground ball, not exactly pounding the strike zone but letting his natural stuff get him outs, Webster worked through the first, the second, the third, and the fourth. It was only in the fifth that he started to struggle, as the Jays nickled-and-dimed their way to three runs on singles and a walk. Some more small ball scored a fourth run in the sixth, and just like that, a great Allen Webster start had been derailed.
Still, the Sox maintained a 5-4 lead. And if the bullpen could have held strong, there would've been no problem.
And then John Farrell called on Andrew Bailey. Again. In another one-run game. And, sure enough, it was to face the best part of Toronto's lineup. Credit Bailey, he got through Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista with flying colors. Sure enough, though, Bailey left a fastball up in the zone, and Edwin Encarnacion deposited it in the bleachers. 5-5, tie game, thank you very much Andrew Bailey and John Farrell.
We could hope that maybe this would teach Farrell a lesson about calling on one of his least reliable pitchers to face the other team's best hitters in a one-run game, but clearly not, since he learned nothing from it going wrong just over a week ago against Detroit.
Still, for all that the Bailey - Farrell combo had managed to give away another lead, the rest of the Sox were not ready to give up on this one. The Sox wasted no time at all taking their lead back. Singles from Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia set up David Ortiz to be the hero, but Brett Cecil baffled him with a curveball to earn strike three. After a five-pitch walk to Mike Napoli, the buck passed to Jonny Gomes. And while the right-handed specialist hasn't done a lot at the plate, he's had a propensity for the dramatic. Tonight proved no different. With the Fenway Faithful on their feet, Gomes got a fastball over the plate and ripped it past a diving Maicer Izturis and into left field, bringing in the go-ahead run.
The Sox would score once more in the inning, but ultimately that run would be unimportant. A combination of Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara managed to close out the last two innings free of any great dramatics, earning the Red Sox their fourth straight win. One they probably couldn't have expected, and one that shouldn't have been quite so difficult after how it started, but a big win all the same.
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