|Closing Time: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 0||04.28.10 at 10:18 pm ET|
For the first time in two weeks, the Red Sox are no longer a team under .500.
Thanks to an ace-affirming start from Jon Lester and a pair of hits and an RBI from Darnell McDonald Hobbs (guess that makes Mike Cameron Bump Bailey,) the Sox completed a sweep of the Blue Jays on Wednesday night with a 2-0 win.
And while a record of 11-11 is nothing to write a song about, it sure beats 4-9 with a stick.
The Sox get a day off Thursday, then head to Camden Yards for a three-game set with the Orioles, the grand poobah of the “Let us Help You Get Fat and Happy Club.”
So what went right and what went wrong for the Red Sox in a bizarre three-game series (played in front of, oh, maybe 40,000 total) that saw nearly five times more runs scored in the first six innings (23) than in the final 21 (five)? Let’s narrow it down:
What Went Right For The Red Sox
To put it mildly, Jon Lester has his groove back: I suppose it’s possible that a Red Sox starter will have a more dominant outing than the one authored by Lester (7 IP, one hit, no runs, two walks, 11 Ks) on Wednesday, but I’d stash that chance in the Highly Unlikely file. Gone, I think, is worry about slow starts and mechanical problems. And give Francona a lot of credit for sending Lester back in the game for the seventh inning. I thought he was done after 106 pitches. But his final inning was perhaps his strongest, as he sandwiched a Vernon Wells foul pop-out to Kevin Youkilis around strikeouts of Jose Bautista and Lyle Overbay (getting Overbay looking on a nasty curve.) His ERA, once 8.44, is already down to 4.71. Any bets that it’ll be below 3.00 at the All-Star Break?
The A-List: I suspect that Lester for seven innings, Daniel Bard for the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon to close is the closest to a “rocking chair” game that Terry Francona will ever have. Bard did give up a leadoff double to Alex Gonzalez in the eighth, but struck out Adam Lind, Fred Lewis and Travis Snider to get out of the mini-jam. Bard once again was clocked at 100 MPH and and has struck out eight men in his last three innings. And Papelbon looked properly rested in the ninth, pitching a perfect frame for his seventh save.
Is Darnell McDonald a keeper? Could be. Had another RBI for the Red Sox on Wednesday and now has six for the season, or more than either David Ortiz or Victor Martinez (combined 2010 salary of $20.7 million.)
What Went Wrong For The Red Sox:
Another rough night for Victor Martinez: Now hitting .247, Martinez hit into his league-leading eighth GIDP. Part of an 0-for-4 night for Martinez, who hasn’t homered since the second game of the season.
J.D. Drew is still spinning: After complaing of vertigo earlier in the week, Drew looked plenty off-kilter Wednesday, going hitless to see his average drop to .181. Hope it ends better for J.D. than it did for Jimmy Stewart’s character in the Hitchcock classic.
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