Sunday, May 11, 2014

Boston Takes Texas Series

Lackey was in control and guided Boston to another victory
Slowly but surely, the Red Sox are gaining steam.

With their 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers today, the Sox won their third straight series and lifted their record over .500 for the first time since April 3rd, when they were 2-1 after winning their season-opening series in Baltimore. At 19-18, Boston has now won six of its last eight and 14 of the last 23, coming alive after a slow start that caused the defending World Series champs to slip to last place in the AL East.

It looked like the visiting Red Sox were in for a long weekend after nearly getting no-hit by Yu Darvish in the series-opener, but they rallied to win 8-3 last night and take the rubber game today. Boston's bats staked John Lackey to an early 4-0 lead by scoring in the first two innings for the first time this season. The Sox scored three times to open the game in the top of the first. Mike Napoli doubled in Dustin Pedroia, and after a Jonny Gomes pop-out A.J. Pierzynski laced a single that plated Napoli and David Ortiz. Boston got another in the second from Shane Victorino's RBI groundout.

Rangers starter Robbie Ross, Jr. settled down after that, pitching into the seventh inning before Pedroia ended his day with a solo shot that barely made it over the left field wall. But Ross was not sharp enough to beat Lackey, who delivered another fine outing that lowered his ERA to 3.57 and improved his record to 5-2. The native Texan hurled seven innings of two-run ball, scattering seven hits and striking out nine while walking none. Shin-Soo Choo took him deep to lead off the bottom of the fourth and added another run in the seventh when Mitch Moreland doubled home Alex Rios.

Lackey nearly lost control of the game when, following Moreland's one-out double, J.P. Arencibia reached on an infield single that ate up Xander Bogaerts. Lackey screamed and stomped his feet the way he always does when a fielder fails to make a play behind him, leading John Farrell to send out Juan Nieves to calm him down. The move seemed to work, for Lackey fanned Leonys Martin and Rougned Odor--both of whom represented the potential tying run--to end the frame and finish his start on a high note.

The Red Sox bullpen took it from there. Andrew Miller worked around hitting Elvis Andrus with a pitch to deliver a scoreless eighth, and Koji Uehara closed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth, converting his 32nd consecutive save opportunity since last July 6th.

The surging Sox get an off-day tomorrow to travel to Minnesota, where they'll wrap up their six-game road trip. Look for them to continue their winning ways against the last-place Twins, who have the American League's second-worst pitching staff (ERA-wise) and a soft lineup.

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