In many ways, this game had "Red Sox loss" written all over it. In fact, it was nearly identical to some of their games in Cleveland.
A strong start from their pitcher? Check. Josh Beckett went eight innings allowing just two runs along the way, and even flirting with history before a very high-bouncing chopper from Erick Aybar landed in Beckett's glove too late to record the out. The majestic home run he allowed later on to Torii Hunter was really the only other blemish on a night where Beckett again looked, by-and-large, pretty dominant.
A pathetic performance with runners in scoring position? Check. The Sox put sixteen men on base in the first nine frames, but only managed one hit in fourteen tries with RISP. That hit came in the sixth inning, when after Carl Crawford moved over David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie with a sacrifice, Jason Varitek appeared to waste it with an awful strikeout. But Jacoby Ellsbury somehow came through on the first pitch with the weakest of hits, blooping an RBI single into right. Otherwise, things were quiet in regulation, and runner after runner was stranded.
And perhaps worst of all: no Kevin Youkilis. Youk fouled a ball hard off his shin in the first inning, and did not return to the game after trainers found a massive bruise. That left one Marco Scutaro batting cleanup for the rest of the game.
Somehow, though, this time things went the Sox' way. And we have Erick Aybar to thank for that.
It came in the eighth inning, with Josh Beckett for some reason returning to the mound with well over 100 pitches on his arm and having just given up the homer to Hunter an inning earlier. Aybar took advantage of the weary Beckett, shooting a hard-hit grounder down the right field line for two bases. Luckily for the Red Sox, though, he got greedy, and headed for third, where he was caught thanks to an excellent pair of throws from J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia.
Given this new lease on life, the Red Sox used a pair of clean innings from Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard to keep the Angels off the board going into the eleventh. There, things finally came alive again for the Red Sox. J.D. Drew led off the inning with a walk, and then went first-to-third on a single from Pedroia. With the winning run just 90 feet away, Adrian Gonzalez provided the final push, hammering a double to right field to score Drew and give the Sox a 3-2 lead.
While the Red Sox would not end up needing any more runs, they would get one thanks to a sacrifice fly and some interesting baserunning from Dustin Pedroia. With runners on second and third and one out, Darnell McDonald hit a ground ball to Maicer Izturis. The Angels' third baseman fielded the ball, and immediately forced Dustin Pedroia into a rundown. For once, though, it didn't work. Pedroia dodged the tag, appearing to leave the basepath in the process, but not enough apparently for the umpire to call him out. The Sox would take advantage, adding an insurance run when Jed Lowrie came through with a bases loaded sacrifice fly after a nine pitch at bat. Jonathan Papelbon came in and once again sealed the deal, picking up another strong save by striking out Howie Kendrick after a ten pitch battle.
The Red Sox have now won five of their last six games, and two straight on the road.