The Red Sox entered Friday night's game against the Blue Jays at their lowest point of the year, fresh off a traumatic beatdown at the hands of the Yankees. A few hours later, they headed back towards their hotel at something of a high point.
How did they pull off this feat? By doing the exact opposite of everything they did on Thursday. The defense did not put starter Jake Peavy in a bad position by committing error after error behind him, instead doing a pretty good job of mopping up balls in play. Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley Jr. side by side in the outfield meant little danger from fly balls, and while the infield defense still wasn't at its best, they were relatively unchallenged throughout the game.
Peavy responded by taking as much of the game off their shoulders as possible, striking out seven batters in seven excellent innings of one-run ball. Whereas John Lackey had relentlessly pounded the strike zone two nights before to use the Yankees in check, Peavy used nasty movement to keep the Jays off balance. Peavy relied heavily on a two-seam fastball with some reasonable snap to its finish, and added a hard-breaking curveball that picked up a good few strikes. But it was a heavy changeup that had Toronto batters swinging at empty air all night.
The only run Peavy would allow would come in the seventh on a Juan Francisco solo shot. By then, however, the game was already over. Long since, in fact, as the Red Sox offense had not waited long to strike against Mark Buehrle. Mike Napoli and Xander Bogaerts set up a productive second inning with a walk and a double. A.J. Pierzynski drew first blood with a sacrifice fly, but three straight hits from Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Dustin Pedroia were the real killers, putting the Red Sox ahead 4-0. A no-doubt homer from David Ortiz in the third quickly increased that lead to 5-0.
By the end of the night, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mike Napoli had each reached base four times, with Dustin Pedroia and A.J. Pierzynski not far behind at three trips a piece.
The Red Sox wouldn't quite pile it on as much as might have been expected given their sixteen hits and six walks, hitting into a pair of double plays and running into some outs on the basepaths. But the eight runs they did manage to put on the board were far more than was needed with Jake Peavy handing the ball off to the capable duo of Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller, who allowed just one hit between them while recording five of their six outs by strikeout.
Now all that's left for the Red Sox to do is actually maintain some of this momentum. Given how they followed up their last big win, however, that might be easier said than done.