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The Red Sox defeated the Blue Jays 7-4 behind another solid pitching performance from Felix Doubront.
The Red Sox offense picked up right where it left off Friday night. In the second inning on Saturday, they took it to Kyle Drabek and the Blue Jays, all with two outs in the inning.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked and made it to third base on a Ryan Sweeney single. Will Middlebrooks kept the offense going with a sharp line drive single of his own, scoring Saltalamacchia and moving Sweeney to third base. Nick Punto stepped in the box next and drove the ball sharply to right field for a base hit, scoring Sweeney and moving Middlebrooks to third. Daniel Nava continued to shine with two outs as he lined a ball to center that appeared to be catchable, but Colby Rasmus misjudged the ball and it landed safely allowing Middlebrooks and Punto to score giving the Sox a 4-0 lead early in the game.
The Blue Jays would not go away quietly though, as in the third inning Jeff Mathis, the number nine hitter, hit a home run to right-center making the score 4-1. The Blue Jays would continue to attack Doubront and loaded the bases, threatening to claw back into the game. However, Doubront pitched through the obstacle by getting Rasmus to pop out to Middlebrooks to end the inning.
The Red Sox added a run in the top of the fourth when Kevin Youkilis scored as Middlebrooks grounded into a double play. The Jays later tacked on two more runs with a Kelly Johnson RBI single in the 4th, and a Jose Bautista line drive home run in the 5th. Doubront later settled down in the sixth as he retired the side in order.
The Red Sox gained two more runs in the game as David Ortiz scored on a Sweeney groundout in the eighth, and Nick Punto hit a monstrous homerun to right field in the ninth, his first homerun of the year. The Jays tacked on one more run in the eighth inning on a throwing error by Sweeney, but the effort was not good enough as the Red Sox took Game 2 of the weekend series in Toronto.
Alfredo Aceves was able to close out the game in the ninth inning to collect his 14th save of the season.
Nick Punto had been noticeably struggling this season. Coming into Saturday’s game he was batting .132 with no home runs, and clearly was struggling to find his timing. It appears that he found his timing in spades today. Punto went 3-4 with 2 RBI’s, 2 runs scored, and a home run.
After hitting his first home run of the season in the ninth, he received the silent treatment from the bench until Bobby Valentine could no longer contain his excitement and high-fived the veteran infielder.
Daniel Nava has performed well in his recent stint with the big league club. He added another hit Saturday as well as two RBI’s as the leadoff hitter. He has been moved around in the lineup, but the one consistency is that he continues to produce.
Over the past 10 games, he is hitting .286 with a homerun and 10 RBI’s. With all the injury woes the Red Sox have dealt with this season (they currently they have seven outfielders on the disabled list), Nava’s play has been a pleasant surprise. His versatility to be able to hit in almost any spot in the lineup has been making a tough situation easy on manager Bobby Valentine. Continued contributions from guys like Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are going to be a key to the success of this team.
Felix Doubront has been another unexpected contributor to the Red Sox in the early part of the season. He had yet another strong outing Saturday, going 6.1 innings allowing 3 runs (2 of them earned), striking out seven, and walking two on 101 pitches. On the season, Doubront is 6-2 in eleven starts. He has an ERA of 3.76, with 66 strikeouts and 26 walks. He has provided consistency in the rotation out of the number four slot giving the Red Sox a chance to win every time he takes the mound. More performances like this from Doubront will go a long way in complimenting Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz.