Closing Time: Red Sox enjoy reversal of fortunes, complete sweep of Braves
|05.27.14 at 10:43 pm ET|
A Red Sox team that spent weeks seemingly unable to buy a hit with runners in scoring position enjoyed a sudden confluence of them on Tuesday en route to a 6-3 victory over the Braves. A four-run seventh inning in which the Sox transformed a 3-2 deficit into the winning score represented the polar opposite of what the team has experienced for most of May.
After a pair of one-out singles, David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes enjoyed back-to-back bloop singles to plate the tying run. A Grady Sizemore groundball then yielded one out instead of an inning-ending twin killing, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead, after which Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered a sharp two-run single to left.
Thanks in no small part to a bunch of balls simply finding holes, the Red Sox went 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position en route to their fourth straight game of five or more runs this year — matching a season-high for such a streak. And so, a roadtrip that commenced in disastrous fashion concluded on a more successful note, with the Red Sox claiming a two-game series sweep in Atlanta as the two teams prepare for a reciprocal two-game set in Boston.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Grady Sizemore went 2-for-5 with a double and a steal of third while driving in a pair of runs. It was the fifth game this year in which he drove out multiple runs, and his first since May 14.
– Dustin Pedroia had his first multi-hit game in a week and his first extra-base hit in five games, going 3-for-4 with a double and a sac fly. It was the third game of three-plus hits for Pedroia this year, and his first since May 6.
– Jackie Bradley Jr., who had been 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position in May, delivered a key two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh to break the game open.
– While Jon Lester encountered his share of bad luck and was something less than dominant, he made enough key pitches to control the damage against the Braves and ultimately position himself for a victory. The left-hander — who got off to a rocky start when he permitted the first batter he faced, Jason Heyward, to go deep (the first homer of the year Lester had given up to a lefty, and the sixth time in his career he was taken deep by the first batter he’d faced in a start) — worked around a total of eight hits and three walks in six innings thanks to seven punchouts and a pair of key double plays. Most notably, with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the second, Lester got starting counterpart Aaron Harang to tap back to the mound to start a 1-2-3 double play that permitted him to escape the inning unscathed. The Braves were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Lester, and 1-for-7 overall.
– The Sox bullpen delivered three scoreless innings, with left-hander Andrew Miller submitting particularly dominant work, punching out both of the batters he faced with a runner on in the bottom of the eighth and Koji Uehara flying through a perfect ninth that included two strikeouts on 11 pitches. Uehara now has thrown 10 straight scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts.
While there were questions earlier in the year about Uehara’s struggles, the closer now has a 0.87 ERA (an improvement on last year’s 1.09 mark) with 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings (again, besting last year’s 12.2 strikeouts per nine).
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Lester went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts, and he’s now 0-for-34 in his career as a hitter. He has 41 plate appearances without a hit in his career, the fourth most plate appearances since 1901 without a hit.
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