The Red Sox squandered plenty of baserunners, played some ugly defense, and saw Koji Uehara give up a homer in the ninth. All in the process of a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers that, quite frankly, didn't feel anywhere near as close as it was.
All season long, the Red Sox have been waiting for Wade Miley to be the man they traded for. The reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter who can keep his team in games and often ahead so long as his defense does its job behind him. They didn't get that last time out, strange though it sounds given his seven scoreless innings against the Athletics. Miley was doing his best 2008 Daisuke impression in Oakland, pitching poorly but stumbling his way to zeroes inning after inning.
They didn't get the Miley they traded for tonight, either. Instead, they got something better. After a couple of two-out singles in the first, it looked like Miley might be in for another night full of close escapes and lucky outs. But a three-pitch strikeout of Kyle Blanks to end the inning did not speak of luck, nor did the pair of Ks he recorded in the second to work around a leadoff single.
Miley was not untouchable, no. The Rangers scattered a handful of hits against him here and there, but when Miley was faced with any semblance of trouble, he got himself out of it. Even when Dustin Pedroia dropped a pop-up that would have ended the fourth inning, putting runners on the corners instead, Miley coolly worked a five-pitch strikeout against Delino DeShields, blowing him away with a 93 MPH fastball to end the frame.
By that point, the game could have been in the bag if the Red Sox had taken full advantage of their opportunities. Four straight one-out hits in the first had served to bring a run home and load the bases for Mike Napoli, but the first baseman looked overmatched as Yovanni Gallardo got him to flail at a slider for strike three before getting a two-pitch ground out from Daniel Nava to end the inning with just the one run in.
Napoli would make up for his earlier failure some in the fourth, launching a rocket over the Monster in left for a leadoff solo shot to give the Red Sox their second run. David Ortiz stayed hot at the plate with a bomb of his own in the fifth to make it 3-0, with Napoli capping off another short rally with a two-out ground ball that Elvis Andrus lost hold of, allowing Hanley Ramirez to score a fourth run from third base.
That lead would end up shrinking some in the sixth inning, but even then it's hard to really fault Wade Miley.He was responsible for the one-out double from Kyle Blanks, and the two-out single from Thomas Field to left that ultimately scored him, yes. But it was Hanley Ramirez who seemed surprised to see Blanks round third and head for home, losing a lot of time on a throw that should have had an excellent shot at keeping the run out had he been quicker with it. Nor was Miley entirely to blame for the second run, as Daniel Nava completely botched a Robinson Chirinos fly ball in right, turning it into three bases and an RBI. It could have easily been a scoreless inning, and should never have gone beyond the one run, but in the end, the lead was cut in half.
With Miley departing following a scoreless seventh, the Red Sox had another couple chances to provide some insurance runs. Pablo Sandoval would leave the game after getting drilled in the knee to load the bases in the bottom of the inning (John Farrell says the scans are clean, if Sandoval is still sore), but Neftali Felix snagged a ground ball from Xander Bogaerts to end the inning, and another pair of runners went by the wayside in the eighth when Hanley Ramirez grounded out to Elvis Andrus.
That left just two runs for Koji Uehara to hold onto, and he needed both of them, as Leonys Martin crushed a 2-1 fastball into the bullpens to lead off the ninth. It was a shaky night for Uehara, who struggled to keep the ball down. But Robinson Chirinos hit his long fly ball to the deepest part of the park for an out, and high "heat" from Koji got Carlos Peguero swiniging. A perfectly-placed dribbler from Shin-Soo Choo prolonged the inning, but Elvis Andrus flew out to keep that one-run lead in tact and give the Red Sox the win.
It was a night where the Red Sox failed to do the little things. But this is a team that has shown its problems to be on a grander scale. Leaving the bases loaded twice and making some boneheaded defensive plays doesn't seem so bad in the face of 13 hits and a fantastic performance from Wade Miley. It felt like a huge blowout, but a one-run win works just as well at the end of the day.