It’s been awhile since we got one of these, and it feels so good. After a week of long, absurd, frustrating games since the All-Star break, the Red Sox finally came through with a satisfying, all-around victory against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. The offense scored early and gave the team a rare early, comfortable lead. They also got production from some slumping players, with Mookie Betts and Chris Young both reaching a couple times early. On the mound, Drew Pomeranz overcame some shaky command to still come through with a strong start. This was good. More like this, please.
While the offense did get going to an extent on Wednesday, it didn’t always seem like that was going to be the case. At least, very early on it appeared that we may be looking at yet another frustrating day for the Red Sox lineup. They got a couple of baserunners in the first inning, but one was eliminated by a double play and the other was stranded at first base.
In the second inning, the lineup made sure it would not let Aaron Sanchez skate by without a challenge all game long. It was clear in this frame that the 2016 breakout star didn’t have his best command, and the offense took advantage. It wasn’t always pretty, though. It started with a bang as Chris Young smacked a double off the Green Monster and he’d move over to third on a single from Jackie Bradley. After the latter stole second, Christian Vazquez had a chance to do some damage with two in scoring position and nobody out. Instead, he hit a ground ball and everything went to hell. Vazquez was out at first, then Young was caught between third and home, unsure if he could score or not. When he went to retreat back to the bag, he discovered Bradley had already run over. So, Young started running home as Bradley started running back to second. Eventually, Young was thrown out and Bradley made it back to third. It was some truly abysmal baserunning, if that wasn’t clear.
Whereas in recent games a situation like that would almost certainly lead to a scoreless inning, Brock Holt drew a walk and Deven Marrero came through with a big hit in the next at bat to score two. They’d get a couple more when an error and a walk loaded the bases and Dustin Pedroia knocked in two with a single into left field.
The offense got back to work in the fourth with Mookie Betts starting a rally with a one-out single. He’d steal second during the next at bat before Pedroia hit a groundball to shortstop. It was a tough play for Troy Tulowitzki, who attempted to bare hand the ball while charging in. It slid under his hand and Betts kept on running all the way home to give the Red Sox their fifth run of the game. They slowed down after this rally, but it was more than enough.
It was more than enough because the Red Sox were getting yet another strong outing from Drew Pomeranz. Through one scope, this was not one of his more impressive starts. The stuff wasn’t quite as sharp as his other turns through the rotation and he seemed to be slightly lacking in the command department as well. Through another scope (I don’t know why I have all these scopes), it was even more impressive because he was able to have so much success in this game despite clearly not being at his best.
He started getting into most of his trouble after the Red Sox had that four-run second inning, which made sense given the extra downtime he had while Boston was putting those numbers on the board. In the top half of the third, he gave up two consecutive balls off the Monster. Fortunately, both were played well by Andrew Benintendi and both runners were held to singles. Pomeranz followed that up with a strikeout and a double play to end the inning unscathed.
The one bit of real trouble he got into in this game came in the fifth when he kicked things off by allowing a one-out walk to Miguel Montero. To be fair to Pomeranz, ball four was actually a strike but he missed his spot and Christian Vazquez couldn’t catch it. That resulted the ball hitting the ump in the thigh, and that led to a missed call. After that, Pedroia let a ball slide under his glove for his first error in 119 games and that put runners on the corners. Jose Bautista would come through with a sacrifice fly and the Blue Jays had their one and only run against Pomeranz.
All told, the lefty was able to make it through 6 2⁄3 innings and allowed just the one unearned run. As I said, he wasn’t as sharp as we’ve ever seen him, and that is made evident by his five walk, three strikeout line. That’s not the important part, though. What’s important is he kept the Blue Jays off the board and saved a Red Sox bullpen that is in desperate need of some rest.
Speaking of the bullpen, Heath Hembree was one of the few pitcher not used in Tuesday’s 15-inning affair so he was called upon to relieve Pomeranz. He tossed 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit in that time. There was some loud contact and a wild pitch, and Hembree still isn’t the most trustworthy arm, but he did his job in this game.
Ben Taylor, who was just called up earlier in the day, came in for the ninth with just one job: Make sure Craig Kimbrel doesn’t need to pitch. He did just that, and did it while sporting one hell of a mustache.
The Red Sox really needed an easy win after what’s gone on over the last week or so, and they got it thanks to Pomeranz and some early offense. That’s now two in a row for the Red Sox, and they picked up a game on both the Rays and the Yankees for the day. They’ll look to keep the good times rolling with a quick turnaround. First pitch is at 1:35 PM ET on Thursday with Doug Fister taking the mound for the Red Sox.