Closing Time: Red Sox use small ball, John Lackey to pull out win over Athletics
|07.13.13 at 1:20 am ET|
After a series of offensive fireworks in Seattle, the Red Sox relied on some small ball to push runs across the plate in a 4-2 win in Oakland Friday night.
Boston used everything from aggressive baserunning to sacrifice bunts in the game, advancing runners into scoring position and using a couple of two-run singles to give John Lackey enough run support to earn his seventh win of the season.
After a Jose Iglesias single with the game tied in the top of the eighth inning, Brock Holt successfully sacrifice bunted him over to second base ‘ a play that proved crucial when Jacoby Ellsbury hit what would have been a double-play ball to the second baseman in the next at-bat. Instead, Iglesias moved to third and scored along with Shane Victorino on a single from Dustin Pedroia. That single gave the Red Sox a lead they would not surrender.
It was another stellar night for Lackey, who only allowed two runs on three hits through seven innings pitched. That effort was enough to hold off Jarrod Parker, who retired the last 16 Red Sox he faced after allowing two runs in the second inning.
Here is a look at what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox in their win:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Lackey, who held the Athletics without a hit through the first four innings, earned the win after lasting at least seven innings for his sixth consecutive start. He is now 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA and a .227 opponent batting average in his last 10 starts.
Lackey’s streak of six consecutive starts of 7-plus innings pitched with two or fewer earned runs is tied for the longest by a Red Sox starter since Pedro Martinez had eight consecutive starts with those stats in 2000. Clay Buchholz also had six consecutive starts with those numbers earlier this season.
– Holt continued his great start at the plate for the Red Sox by hitting a two-out, two RBI single in the top of the second to give the Red Sox the lead. Holt has a hit in his last six games after going hitless in his season debut, and is now batting .318 with seven RBIs in seven games.
Holt’s hot bat is not something he had before he was called up to the majors. The 25-year-old, who was batting .262/.333/.295 with triple-A Pawtucket, had been batting .087/.125/.087 in the seven games prior to his call-up to Boston with only two singles during that span.
– Part of the reason the Red Sox were in position to score two runs on Holt’s base hit was their aggressive baserunning. Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava both advanced into scoring position on a fly ball to left field with no outs in the inning. While an accurate throw would have likely put Napoli out, the ball went through Josh Donaldson and allowed both runners to move into scoring position ‘ making the risk to advance the runners on the fly out worth it.
– Pedroia made an incredible diving stop to start an inning-ending double play on a hard-hit ground ball from Donaldson in the bottom of the fifth inning. Had Pedroia not made the play, the Athletics would have tied the game at two with two men on, putting them in position to take the lead.
Pedroia’s eighth inning two RBI single came in a situation that he has not been very successful in this season, as he was batting .234/.333/.695 with two outs and runners in scoring position entering Friday.
– Andrew Bailey converted in a pressure situation, as he made it through the top heart of the Athletics’ order unscathed in the bottom of the eighth inning. After walking John Jaso, Bailey breezed through the 3-4-5 hitters, forcing Donaldson to fly out before striking out Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick.
Bailey has now thrown 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his last four outings, striking out seven batters while only allowing two hits in the process.
– Koji Uehara earned his eighth save of the season, striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth to seal the win.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– While Lackey had another strong start for the Red Sox, it could have been even better had he not lost hitters when he was ahead in counts. Lackey allowed a season-high four walks in the game, all four of which came with two strikes on the hitters.
Lackey’s control was not necessarily the issue, as he threw 61 percent of his pitches for strikes in the game. However, he had a tough time with his payoff pitches, which led to his highest walk total since August 30, 2011.
– Former Red Sox Jed Lowrie reminded Boston of what they are missing when he blasted a home run to right field to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lowrie, who has been batting cleanup for Oakland, was batting .302/.370/.426 this season with six homers and 36 RBIs entering the game Friday. He hit .252/.303/.382 in his final season with the Red Sox in 2010 before being dealt to the Astros along with Kyle Weiland in exchange for Mark Melancon.
– Ellsbury was held without a hit in the game, ending his 19-game hitting streak in the process. Ellsbury hit .413/.467/.575 with two homers and seven doubles during the streak.
– Small ball did not work for the Red Sox the entire night, as a pinch-running Jackie Bradley Jr. was thrown out at home on a safety squeeze from Jose Iglesias in the ninth inning. The run would have given Boston a three-run lead entering the bottom of the ninth.
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