The Red Sox got back in the win column Friday night with seven strong innings from Allen Webster and two key grabs from Jackie Bradley Jr.
Having Allen Webster on the mound in the first has rarely been a good sign for the Red Sox. An 8.22 career ERA in nine starts with more walks than strikeouts and seven homers in fewer than 40 innings paints an appropriately ugly picture for a pitcher who often seems incapable of even approaching the strike zone. Not even the 2013 Red Sox could save some of his starts.
Friday...Well, there was still an element of wildness to Webster. There were still too many pitches that might be considered "waste pitches" if there was any sense that Webster was intending to waste them. But...on an at-bat to at-bat basis, Webster kind of put it together against a dangerous Los Angeles lineup. The Angels were only able to score off Webster in the third inning, with Chris Iannetta doubling home Efren Navarro after a leadoff walk and then scoring himself on a sacrifice fly from Mike Trout.
Outside of that inning, however, Webster's movement was playing up, with an at times nasty slider inducing some bad swings. With a little help from Christian Vazquez bringing close pitches back into the zone, Webster was able to work around his larger issues to deliver an effective outing, almost managing to finish the seventh before being pulled for Tommy Layne.
The lineup, meanwhile, had gone ahead and given him just enough offense to work with, mostly coming in the top half of the third inning that saw the Angels produce their pair of runs. Christian Vazquez, who has been reaching base with some consistency in recent days, did his part to turn the lineup over with a one-out double. Back-to-back singles from Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia served to bring Vazquez in to score the first run of the game, and Yoenis Cespedes picked up a pair of RBI on a double down the left field line--his first in a Red Sox uniform.
Leading 3-2 after the Angels returned fire, the Red Sox would get a bit of breathing room in the fifth courtesy of Mike Napoli, who hit a fly ball to dead center that just kept carrying over the wall for a solo shot.
Still, with just a two-run lead, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara didn't have all that much room to work with, making John Farrell's defensive substitution of Jackie Bradley Jr. for Daniel Nava auspicious indeed. Despite playing just two innings, Bradley managed two robberies on hits that could have changed the game, first coming in to snag a sinking Mike Trout liner off of Junichi Tazawa, then ranging back and making a leaping grab to steal extra bases from Howie Kendrick to lead off the ninth. Given the way those innings progressed, both Trout and Kendrick would have come around to score had they reached base. The save will go to Koji, but in reality it should probably be credited to Bradley.
Coming into this game with few positives to show for their last week, the Red Sox put together some very positive performances at the plate, on the mound, and in the field Friday night. Even if it's just a one-night wonder, it's a welcome reprieve.