The Red Sox snapped their five-game losing streak Sunday afternoon behind some solid results from a shaky Allen Webster and a big homer from David Ortiz.
This is certainly one of the best performances Allen Webster has to his name in the majors in terms of runs and innings, but for all that it was a game which highlighted how little seems to have changed for Webster over the last year. He can still dazzle at times with some truly nasty pitches. He can produce some unreal movement that you would only expect to see out of a top-flight major league pitcher.
But for all that he can produce fantastic individual pitches, he doesn't seem to believe he has the capability to get batters out. We know Allen Webster has some control issues, but he's not as wild as he looked today, walking five batters in six innings of work. Triple-A hitters are not as disciplined as major league hitters, but they still will not chase pitches in the dirt, or those a full foot off the plate where Webster was throwing them as often as not. A pitcher with control issues as serious as Webster had today will not produce results like Webster has even at Triple-A.
Today, though, Webster managed to survive in spite of those flaws, and partially that's because his mistakes were more conducive to walks than they were to home runs. When Webster missed in 2013, he tended to produce some eminently hittable pitches. The result was seven home runs (and 29 earned runs!) in 30 innings of work. Today, however, while his misses may have wound up in an entirely different area code, they weren't quite so many that sailed right down the pipe and begged to be hit into the stands.
As such, the Rays had to put together actual sustained rallies to get to Webster. They only managed one, coming in the third inning when Curt Casali drew a one-out walk, Webster failed to convert a Kevin Kiermaier ground ball into an out, and Desmond Jennings doubled them both home with a line drive to the warning track in left-center field. Other than that, Webster managed to strand his various baserunners, never living comfortably, but always surviving all the same.
By the time the Rays put their runs on the board, the Red Sox had already produced their offense for the day in the top half of the inning. As with the Rays, it started with a one-out walk and an infield single, but where Jennings produced a double, David Ortiz went the extra distance, launching a majestic three-run shot deep into the stands in right field (and watching it go to boot). That's one way to make sure fan interference doesn't come up.
While the Red Sox forced Chris Archer to throw 43 pitches in that third inning, the Rays' starter still managed to outlast Webster, the former going six full while the latter bowed out with one down in the bottom of the sixth. With both bullpens producing zeroes, however, the extra run from David Ortiz' blast proved the difference, delivering the Red Sox their first victory in six days.