Ask Yamaico Navarro if he's happy about how Wednesday's game against the Orioles. Despite being the man to provide the walkoff, there's probably a pretty good chance he'll say no.
After all, it's not many walk-offs that come about as the result of a hit batter. Even fewer that involve said batter taking one to the wrist. But that's how the Red Sox and Navarro had to earn this one.
But let's rewind this one a bit. We started with Clay Buchholz on the mound, who did what's come so naturally to him this past year: put up zeros. Four of them to be exact. He had some fastballs dug out in the second inning for hits, but a heads-up throw home from Marco Scutaro saved the run on a groundout, and for the rest of the night he was very strong. Plenty of well-placed pitches and swings-and-missed resulted in three strikeouts, while most of the balls in play ended up on the ground and in a mitt.
J.D. Drew, meanwhile, provided the Sox with the only run they'd have until the last play of the game in the second inning, taking a 2-1 offering from Baltimore starter Ryan Drese over the wall in right-center field. After the second, though, the Red Sox just couldn't seem to get much going. A couple of hits and a walk were all they could manage until the ninth.
Fortunately, the Sox' bullpen had kept things in control. Bobby Jenks' strong start to spring continued with another scoreless inning including a pair of strikeouts. Scott Atchison picked up two perfect frames of his own to drop his spring ERA down under 4.00. Only Randy Williams failed to hold the O's off the board, allowing a leadoff triple to score in the eighth.
Ryan Lavarnway got the final rally started in the ninth with a leadoff single laced into left field, giving him a three at-bat hitting streak. Ryan Kalish followed suit, as pinch runner Josh Reddick went first-to-third. The Orioles decided to set up the force out at home by walking Luis Exposito, but ultimately, the move backfired. The 0-2 pitch from Wynn Pelzer came up-and-in on Yamaico Navarro, catching the young shortstop solidly on his left hand and forcing in the winning run. That the whole thing happened with zero outs really just has to make it all the more annoying.
Early reports say that Navarro suffered only a contusion, but we'll have to wait and see if that story changes any.
J.D. Drew: A 2-2 performance with a homer on a night when offense was sorely needed. Despite somewhat limited playing time due to some lingering aches, Drew is off to a very strong start this spring.
Clay Buchholz: If there's one guy who's due for a dip in results this year, it's Clay. The question has always been how much of a dip? So far, Buchholz is showing in spring that he's the real deal--if perhaps not a sub-3.00 ERA real deal.
Bobby Jenks: Let's just say that if Jenks is actually the second or third best reliever this year, then the Sox are going to have one of the best pens in the game. He may not end up closing in 2011, but he's still got the same stuff that had him coming in for the ninth in Chicago.
Jed Lowrie: 0-3, two strikeouts, and just generally an uninspiring night. It's been a bit up-and-down for Jed so far this spring. One good game, one bad. So keep an eye out the next time he finds himself in the lineup. Hopefully the trend will continue.
Don Orsillo: Those who watched know what I'm talking about. For those who don't, well, simply put, Don will never be a professional dancer. Or singer, for that matter.