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Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4: Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks leave the park in suspenseful Boston win

The Red Sox are 3-1 after homers from Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks secured a suspenseful victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.


The Red Sox advanced to 3-1 on the young season in a game filled with missed opportunities, defensive gaffes, and a few bright moments of brilliance that made up for it all in the end.

From the beginning, the Red Sox were wasting their chances. The first inning saw Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Nava each reach base before an out was recorded, but the middle of the lineup could not come through, leaving the Sox with their first two stranded baserunners of the night. The second inning would prove more fruitful, with a bases loaded single from Jacoby Ellsbury driving in a run.

Even then, though, things were going wrong. Jackie Bradley Jr. stumbled and fell rounding third, costing the Red Sox a second run. Beyond that, the man on first for Ellsbury's hit was Jose Iglesias, who reached when Josh Johnson's first pitch caught him on his back elbow. Iglesias would stay in the game in obvious pain, lasting long enough to make an absolutely spectacular defensive play in the bottom inning, ranging far to his right and making a strong throw to second to turn Melky Cabrera's sure hit into an important fielder's choice. Ultimately, though, he'd head back to the dugout before his next at bat.

The lead for Boston would last right up until Mark DeRosa hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the inning. Shane Victorino made a valiant off-balance throw from foul territory, but it sailed too high for Jarrod Saltalamacchia to grab, allowing Rajai Davis to score from third.

The game would see-saw like this for a while. A bit of rekindled Pedro Ciriaco magic would get the Sox a run in the fourth, but they followed it up by again failing to take advantage of having two baserunners with one out. Mike Napoli made it 4-1 by finally catching up to a fastball and sending it sailing over the right field wall for a two-run shot in the fifth, but Mark DeRosa homered and Jose Reyes doubled to cut the lead right back down to one in the bottom half of the inning.

Another pair of stranded baserunners in each of the sixth and seventh inning would finally catch up to the Sox in the bottom half of the seventh, when Jose Reyes took a Junichi Tazawa fastball that stayed middle-in and launched it to right for a solo shot that tied the game up. Boston did not stay down for long, though, finally cashing in on a run when Mike Napoli grounded out to third with both Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes in scoring position. Gomes came home to score, and the Red Sox jumped ahead 5-4.

Andrew Bailey managed to sweat out a tough eighth, keeping the Red Sox up for the ninth, where Will Middlebrooks finally found those extra few feet, picking up his first homer of the season to left field to make it 6-4. Joel Hanrahan would deal with a few control issues after retiring the first two batters of the ninth, but ultimately was able to get Edwin Encarnacion to tap a ball back up the middle to a waiting Dustin Pedroia, who threw on to first for the third and final out.

Ultimately, the Red Sox will have to get some more out of their starting pitchers. Felix Doubront was very shaky in his time on the mound, escaping trouble about as often as the Toronto staff did throughout the night. Still, though, aside from Junichi Tazawa's unfortunate fastball, the Red Sox bullpen once again showed its stuff--Koji Uehara's breezy sixth inning was capped off by the 38-year-old stampeding into the dugout and high-fiving everyone in sight--and the Red Sox pulled out one very stressful win, advancing to 3-1. It's hard to complain about that.