It had been a day of frustration and futility at the plate for the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps weary from the six-hour marathon they'd endured into the early hours of Saturday morning (particularly by Boston time), the Sox could do nothing against Hector Santiago and Kevin Jepsen.
How bad was it? You could count their baserunners through the first seven innings on one hand, for one thing. Incidentally, the same could not be said for their strikeouts. The closest they'd come to scoring a run was Dustin Pedroia hitting a leadoff double in the fourth, then being left on third on a pair of pop-ups and a fly ball. The bottom six in the lineup hadn't managed a hit, and wouldn't by the time the game was over.
And yet, the game was tied. Rubby De La Rosa had taken the mound and, miracle of miracles, brought a slider with him! It's the third pitch that De La Rosa has so desperately needed to go with his fastball - changeup combination.
The slider wasn't perfect on its own. The only run De La Rosa surrendered came on a Mike Trout home run in the bottom of the eighth off of a hanger. But it was enough to keep De La Rosa from being a completely open book to the Angels. He seemed to get more swings at worse pitches than we've seen from him in recent weeks, and more importantly, could throw his fastball for a strike without having the Angels jump all over it for homers.
So it was that De La Rosa was able to survive a few ugly frames and really assert his will in the greater majority of them. Only getting better as the game went on, De La Rosa finished the seventh with eight strikeouts and zero runs to his name.
Still, the Red Sox needed their offense to do something. As it happened, that something was one big swing from Yoenis Cespedes. While the Angels have an Efren Navarro error to thank for Brock Holt reaching base with one-out in the eighth, it was not an inning-defining mistake, with Dustin Pedroia quickly singling behind him to ensure that Cespedes would have a chance with a runner on either way. That chance brought with it a slider in Cespedes' wheelhouse, and a mighty hack from Boston's left fielder that sent it over the left field wall in a hurry, giving Boston the 3-0 lead.
Sticking with De La Rosa for the eighth, John Farrell would quickly make the switch after Mike Trout's leadoff shot in the bottom half of the inning. Edward Mujica and Koji Uehara proved capable of keeping the Angels off base, save a lone single in the ninth, wrapping up Boston's 3-1 win with a strikeout of Josh Hamilton.