Closing Time: Red Sox kick off West Coast swing with win over Angels
|07.06.13 at 2:49 am ET|
Can we say that Felix Doubront has figured things out?
The Red Sox starter allowed just two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking two in what turned into a 6-2 win for the Sox over the Angels on Friday night in Anaheim. It was John Farrell‘s team’s fifth straight win, and ninth victory in its last 10 games.
Doubront now has a 2.74 ERA over his last seven outings, dating back to June 1. During the stretch, he has struck out 34 batters and walked 15 over 42 2/3 innings, having not allowed more than three runs in any of the appearances.
“Being healthy, that’s the best part,” Doubront told reporters. “My arm feels good now. Working with [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves], the bullpens, just pitching, helping me to keep that pace and learn more.”
‘He was outstanding tonight,” Farrell told reporters regarding his starter. “Once again, he works deep in the ballgame. I think this was about 10 straight starts for him where he’s not only kept us in the ballgame but given us a position to win. … He was on the plate with his fastball much more consistently. Very good changeup. And really put us in the position, like I said, to get into that seventh inning. We got some timely hits late, but a solid performance by Felix nonetheless.”
The performance this time was good enough to let the Red Sox offense finally get to Angels pitching, with Boston taking the lead for good with a run in the seventh inning. The decisive score couldn’t be pinned too much on Angels starter C.J. Wilson, however, with Shane Victorino scoring when Josh Hamilton dropped Jonny Gomes‘ fly ball that should have ended the inning.
Insurance for the Red Sox came courtesy of David Ortiz‘ two-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning, scoring Daniel Nava (who had led off the frame with a double). The homer was Ortiz’ 17th of the season and fifth career long ball as a pinch-hitter.
‘Just another homer,” Ortiz told reporters. “I’m used to it. are you? Enjoy it. this ain’t forever.”
The Angels had won eight of their last nine games — and three straight against the Sox at Angel Stadium — before the defeat.
Here is what went right (and wrong) as the Red Sox improved to 20 games over .500 (54-34).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— The Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning thanks to Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s line shot to left field. The ball fell just in front of Angels left fielder J.B. Shuck, who proceeded to let the ball bounce over him and roll to the wall. The hit and error allowed both Gomes and Nava to score. The night marked just the second time this season Saltalamacchia notched multiple hits off a lefty, coming away with two singles to boost his average to .211 vs. southpaws.
— Mike Napoli‘s ninth-inning home run was his first long ball since June 1, snapping an 86 at-bat homerless string. Napoli was hitting in the designated hitter spot for the sixth time this season, having come into the game hitting .391 with a 1.217 OPS when DHing.
“It’s what happened,” Napoli told reporters regarding the homerless streak. “I haven’t hit a homer for probably a little over a month now. It’s not something I go up there and I need to hit a home run. I’m just trying to hit it hard somewhere. I can’t go up there and try to hit home runs, and then everything goes out of whack.”
— The game was the Red Sox’ fourth straight win against a lefty starter, and third time this season they have come away with 10 or more hits against a southpaw starting pitcher. They came into the game with the third-best OPS (.782) against left-handed starting pitchers. The Red Sox also have the third-best OPS from the seventh inning on of any team in baseball.
“I can tell you, in the dugout there’s a lot of positive energy,” Farrell told reporters. “As long as we’re close late, we feel like we’ve got a push late in the game seemingly every night, and some way we’ll find a way to put something together. Whether we capitalize on an opportunity given to us or somebody puts up a good at-bat and then somebody squares one up. we’ve been fortunate. There’s a lot of positive things taking place, and it seems like every night it’s someone different.’
— The Red Sox took advantage of what appeared to be a questionable decision by Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who decided not to have reliever Dane De La Rosa walk Ortiz after Nava’s leadoff double.
“After the leadoff double, they have their reasons for it,” Farrell told reporters of the choice. “And I’m sure De La Rosa, after they got ahead with the fastball, he’s probably looking to tease him a little bit with some offspeed stuff. The changeup stayed right in the middle of the plate for him.”
— Gomes is hitting .326 with a .969 OPS over his last 12 games, with the Sox having won the most recent six games the outfielder has played in.
— The bullpen came through again, with Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara finishing off the final 2 2/3 innings without giving up a run. Uehara closed things out with a perfect ninth inning, striking out one. In his last 13 outings, the righty has given up just one run over 12 1/3 innings, striking out 18 and walking two. Opponents are hitting .073 over that span. Uehara was efficient once again, throwing just seven pitches.
“You know he’s going to throw strikes,” Farrell told reporters. “He’s got that split that he can be very deceptive with. Fortunately, the frequency of use, he hasn’t thrown all that many pitches when you consider the number outings he’s had.”
WHAT WENT WRONG
— Doubront let the Angels draw even after the initial lead by the Red Sox, giving up one run on a 5-4-3 double play grounder off the bat of Albert Pujols, and then surrendering a solo home run to Howie Kendrick in the fourth inning.
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