The Red Sox eked out a 3-2 win over the Orioles Sunday afternoon, getting out in front on solo homers, and holding onto their slim lead late to earn a series win over the division champions.
It was Mookie Betts who got the Sox off to another hot start, wasting no time in getting them up on the board with an early run. Miguel Gonzalez came inside against Boston's impressive young rookie with a 1-2 fastball that cut hard in towards Betts' knees, but Mookie was able to dig the pitch out and then some, sending his first career leadoff home run a few rows into the stands in left field.
The first would end anticlimactically, with Rusney Castillo grounding out on the first pitch he saw to strand Yoenis Cespedes and Will Middlebrooks on base. It was not quite so fast a start as the Red Sox enjoyed on Saturday, but this time they actually had some staying power. The Red Sox not only scored first, but also second and third. In the fifth inning, it was a single from Jemile Weeks--in the game as a replacement for a stiff-necked Xander Bogaerts--scoring on a Yoenis Cespedes single. And, in the sixth, it was veteran catcher David Ross taking advantage of a rare start, taking an outside fastball over the wall in center field for a third Boston run.
Given that those were the first runs on the board since the first, you may have surmised that Joe Kelly was having a strong day on the mound. The Orioles were not completely hopeless, but through the first five innings, Kelly was keeping the ball down, and scattering what few baserunners he had to keep Baltimore from chipping away at the lead. His most troubled inning to that point had been the third, featuring little more than a walk and a ground ball single that Mookie Betts nearly made a play on.
The sixth, however, saw Kelly stumble briefly, and at exactly the wrong moment. Losing the feel for his fastball between frames, Kelly came back out and immediately gave up a leadoff walk to Alejandro De Aza. Trying to avoid the same fate against David Lough, Kelly offered up something of a get-me-over fastball and paid for it with an RBI double, cutting the lead to 3-1.
To his credit, Kelly didn't let the short slip-up phase him. While he couldn't keep Lough from coming in to score a second Baltimore run, he did manage to retire the next three batters he faced to keep the Red Sox ahead, then allowed just a walk in the next frame to finish his night with seven strong innings of two-run ball.
The game did get a little tense in the eighth, with Burke Badenhop allowing a pair of two-out ground ball singles to Delmon Young and Nelson Cruz. But J.J. Hardy took four straight fastballs--the final three for strikes--and Edward Mujica struck out two in a scoreless ninth to keep that small lead intact and secure a Red Sox victory.