One inning was all the Red Sox needed Thursday night, as they used a seven-run rally in the second inning to knock Chien-Ming Wang from the game and top the Blue Jays 7-4 Thursday night at Fenway Park.
After being sent down in order quickly in the first, Red Sox hitters were much more patient with Wang to start the second inning as David Ortiz and Mike Carp forced back-to-back walks. Five consecutive hits and a Dustin Pedroia two-run home run later, the Red Sox had a commanding seven-run lead.
Thursday marked the eighth time this season the Red Sox have knocked out an opposing starting pitcher before the third inning, which is more than any other team in the majors.
That run support was more than enough for Jon Lester, who was having a very strong outing before injuring himself in the top of the eighth inning. The lefty left the game with nobody out in the frame, exiting with what appeared to be a leg injury. He showed no semblance of discomfort upon leaving the field.
Here is a look at what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
- Lester was nearly flawless through the first four innings of the game, only allowing two walks without allowing a hit in the effort. Even when he allowed a baserunner, he forced ground balls that turned into double plays later in the inning both times.
The lefty allowed only four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five through seven innings pitched. The last time Lester pitched deeper into a start was on May 10, when he pitched a complete game shutout — also against Toronto.
- Pedroia capped off the second-inning rally with a two-run home run over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a 7-0 lead and knock Wang out of the game early. It was Pedroia’s fifth home run of the season and first since June 5. Four of Pedroia’s five home runs this season have come at Fenway Park.
- Stephen Drew made several nice defensive plays in the game, including a nice one-handed scoop and throw on a Jose Reyes broken bat grounder in the fourth inning. He also was a part of two inning-ending double plays in the game to help Lester keep his pitch count down.
While Jose Iglesias is praised for being one of the top defensive shortstops in the league already, Drew has quietly ranked among the elite defensive shortstops as well. Entering Thursday, Drew was only behind Andrelton Simmons and Pedro Florimon with a 6.9 UZR as the best defensive shortstop in MLB this season.
- Daniel Nava, who hit an RBI single in the middle of the second-inning rally, made an impressive leaping catch to help preserve the Red Sox lead in the top of the eighth inning. Edwin Encarnacion hit a long fly ball that would have hit the bottom of the wall in left field, but Nava sprinted back before catching the ball at the top of his leap to save two runs from scoring.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
- Lester had to leave the game with an apparent injury in the seventh inning with runners on first and second. With Clay Buchholz already shut down for the time being, an injury to Lester would be a blow to Boston’s rotation if the injury is significant.
- The Red Sox could have had an even bigger inning in the second, but Shane Victorino broke up the five consecutive hits off Wang by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play. Victorino was one of only three Red Sox that did not drive in a run in the game.
Mike Carp was the only Red Sox hitter without a hit in the game, going 0-for-3 with a walk in the process. Carp had only been held without a hit once in his last nine games.
- While the Red Sox had no trouble with Wang, they had no answer for left-handed reliever Juan Perez. Perez pitched three hitless innings of relief for the Blue Jays, striking out two batters in the process. The Blue Jays were unable to climb back into the game, but that type of effort was crucial for Toronto in regards to keeping its bullpen rested for the rest of the series.
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