So, if I were to tell you that both Allen Webster and Koji Uehara pitched in a game the Red Sox lost, what's the story you imagine?
For me, it's an early 5-0 hole, a valiant fight to get back in the game, followed by a lengthy exchange of zeroes in extra innings. Ultimately, the game ends in the fourteenth inning, when the Red Sox are forced to go to the dregs of their bullpen.
Tuesday night, both Allen Webster and Koji Uehara pitched in a game the Red Sox lost, but the story was rather simpler. Allen Webster was solid, and Koji let the winning run come across in the ninth, costing the Red Sox the game.
We've been waiting on Allen Webster to put it all together on the mound for a while now, to the point where it's less a matter of waiting and more just a matter of a tiny, vague hope in the back of our minds that any given start could be the first of the rest of his career, if you will. Tonight was not that night, and in many ways it was more of the same for him. A quick glance at his pitch locations shows the customary 20-odd offerings that no batter in their right mind would swing at--a level of waste that is hard to compensate for in the major leagues.
Still...there was something to Webster tonight. On some level he did compensate for all those waste pitches. For all that he threw the ball all over the place, Webster did not walk the entire team as he often does. In fact, he only allowed two free passes--one each in scoreless fourth and fifth innings.
Instead, it was a brief blitz in the third that cost Webster his runs. Chris Iannetta started the attack with a one-out double, and Kole Calhoun drove him home by reaching out of the zone and slapping a hanging changeup into the outfield, ending a lengthy battle which Webster just could not finish off. Mike Trout bashed a slider into the Monster, taking third on a lucky carom off the top of the scoreboard, and Albert Pujols managed to beat out an infield single (upon review) when Will Middlebrooks made a fantastic diving stop to prevent a chopper from getting past him down the left field line.
It was a rally good for three runs, but not exactly one that we can begrudge Webster for. All told, it was a reasonably strong piece of pitching from the young starter, with the Angels collectively swinging and missing on 15 pitches. There was some hard contact, yes, but it's better than we've seen from Webster before.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, had just the one run, with David Ortiz hitting his 29th long ball of the year to the opposite field on a hanging changeup in the bottom of the first. They would get back on the attack, however, in the middle innings. In the fifth, Dustin Pedroia singled off Jered Weaver, took second on a hard-worked walk from David Ortiz, then third on a wild pitch, eventually scoring Boston's second run when Mike Napoli grounded out to short. Then, in the sixth, the small ball approach continued with Xander Bogaerts drawing a leadoff walk, Christian Vazquez moving him to third with a base hit, and then Brock Holt bringing him home on a sacrifice fly.
That left the game tied, and with neither team doing a thing in the seventh or eighth innings, it stayed that way headed into the ninth. There, however, after recording two quick outs, Koji Uehara faltered, allowing back-to-back hits. The first put Brennan Boesch on second, leaving Chris Iannetta's wall ball double just over the head of a leaping Daniel Nava good for the go-ahead run. The Red Sox attempted to put together some more small ball in the ninth to take advantage of Yoenis Cespedes' pinch-hit leadoff single, but a Brock Holt sacrifice bunt led to nothing more than a pair of strikeouts from Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli, bringing the game to a disappointing end.