Closing time: Allen Webster notches first major league win as Red Sox sweep Padres
|07.04.13 at 4:59 pm ET|
Allen Webster set the Padres down in order only once on Thursday, but when it was all said and done the rookie right-hander accomplished something that had eluded him since his debut 2½ months ago: a major league win.
On a hot, muggy July afternoon, the 23-year-old Webster matched his outing from that cool Sunday in April, allowing just two runs in six innings. Despite all of the baserunners — he walked four and gave up five hits — Webster stayed efficient to guide the Red Sox to a 8-2 win and series sweep of the Padres at Fenway Park. He threw more than 20 pitches in only one inning (the third) and stayed under 15 on four occasions.
“He had good stuff again today,” John Farrell said. “With each passing start here at this level, he starts to get his feet under him. He’s clearly a work in progress, but I thought today he made a couple big pitches when he had to.”
Webster capped his day at 97 pitches (54 strikes) and got the final two outs with a 93 mph fastball. Pedro Ciriaco lined to third, and Brandon Snyder easily doubled Alexi Amarista off of first.
Andrew Bailey (one inning, two strikeouts), Alex Wilson (1 1/3 innings, one strikeout) and Craig Breslow (2/3 innings) all had scoreless relief appearances to finish off the game and the Red Sox 8-1 homestand, their best mark in a run that long in more than two years.
“We’ve played very well, and we’ve gotten some good starting pitching the last time through the rotation, really the last two times,” Farrell said. “We’ve had some exciting games late, and I think this further builds the momentum and confidence of this group. Any time you can rack up that many wins in a nine-game homestand — this is the obvious statement — it’s a good thing.”
Farrell was particularly impressed with Bailey, who effectively mixed all four of his and retired the Padres in order.
“As important as anyone in our bullpen right now is to get Andrew on track. It was good to see him use his whole pitch mix rather than just rely on velocity,” Farrell said. “I think with a zero put up on the board in his case it’s a little bit of a building block and a step in the right direction.”
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Balance was the name of the game for the home team. Every Red Sox starter besides David Ortiz had a hit by the end of the fifth inning, and Ortiz joined the party in the sixth with a two-run single. The Padres were forced into multiple pitching changes with the Red Sox scoring at least one run in five out of the first six innings.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Lavarnway, Jose Iglesias and Ortiz all had multiple base knocks.
– Ellsbury had a team high three hits, including his second homer of the year and first since when April 7. The shot to right field in the bottom of the eighth cleared the bullpens and made it 8-2 Red Sox.
His hard grounder to right in the first inning started a two-run rally and extended his hitting streak to 14 games dating back to June 19. He is also on a 53-for-135 run (.393) since May 26.
“He’s in such a good place right now offensively,” Farrell said. “This is 14 straight for him, average up over .300. The home runs, in his case, are just a bonus. … It starts with getting on base — a walk, hit by pitch or the hit streak he’s on right now, and really the last month the way he’s raised his average. His presence on the base paths can certainly draw the attention from a pitcher.”
– Snyder, who was hitting just .267 with a .338 on-base percentage with Triple-A Pawtucket when the Red Sox called him up last week, continued his strong start with the big league club, his third in three seasons. Snyder sent a 1-2 offering from Padres starter Eric Stults into the Red Sox bullpen in the second inning for his first home run in the majors since May 15, 2012. It also served as his third extra-base hit and sixth RBI in four starts.
Overall, Snyder is hitting .250 (4-for-16), but owns an .813 OPS.
– The Red Sox made a commitment to Iglesias when they demoted Will Middlebrooks on June 25, and the 23-year-old Cuban has done nothing but reward the team for that vote of confidence. He continued his hot hitting with a 2-for-4 effort against the Padres, his fourth multi-hit game in nine tries since getting a full-time position. He got it started with an RBI double down the right-field line, then bunted for a single to catalyze a sixth-inning rally.
Iglesias (.411/.458/.532 on the season) is batting .363 in that time. In the 40 games this season in which he has stepped to the plate, Iglesias has at least two hits in half of them.
– Part of the balanced offense was a result of the Red Sox feasting on slow, sweeping curveballs from Stults. Pedroia set the tone in the first inning by swatting a 69 mph curve down the left-field line for a two-run double, the first pitch he saw after fouling off a 68 mph curve, for an early 2-0 Sox lead. Snyder’s homer one inning later also came on a slow curve.
– With the Sox up by a comfortable margin, Farrell was able to stay away from using Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. Both appeared in Wednesday’s win, and Uehara had pitched six out of the last eight days.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– The Red Sox had no shortage of scoring chances, but they did have one fewer than they should have. Pedroia was gunned down by San Diego catcher Nick Hundley while trying to steal second with one out in the sixth. Shortly after the caught stealing, Napoli blasted a 410-foot ground-rule double into the triangle and Gomes drove him in with line drive to right.
– Daniel Nava entered the game in the eighth, playing right field in place of Shane Victorino. Farrell said Victorino, who has been battling a balky back, was “a little banged up.” Replays showed the right fielder wincing after running toward the foul line to make an inning-ending catch on Carlos Quentin‘s fly out in the seventh.
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