Monday, August 1, 2011

Red Sox Take Two of Three from Chicago Behind Solid Pitching

Sports Illustrated

Red Sox 5 White Sox 3
Winning Pitcher: Alfredo Aceves (7-1)
Losing Pitcher: Jesse Crain (5-3)
Save: Jonathan Papelbon (24)

The Red Sox held on for a 5-3 victory on Sunday afternoon, giving them two out of three against the White Sox, a team who has been giving them trouble the past few years. The win also finished a tremendous month of July, finishing 20-6 for the month, the best record in baseball over that time. As far as command goes, yesterday was starter Andrew Miller's best game since his second start in Pittsburgh at the end of June. Miller only walked one batter in 5.2 innings, the fewest number of free passes he has allowed all season. He also had a season high in strikeouts, fanning eight White Sox batters. Miller had all of his pitches going pretty well on Sunday afternoon, with his fastball touching 95 on multiple occasions. On two of his strikeouts, he painted the outside corner with 95 MPH fastballs that froze Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez. His slider was also working very well, as over 10% of his breaking balls resulted in whiffs. What was most impressive about his slider, however, was that he threw it for a strike 75.6% of the time. It was one of Miller's better performances of the year, but he did allow three runs on ten hits over 5.2 innings.
In what is becoming tradition, Alfredo Aceves came on in relief after Miller failed to work deep into the game. In this one, Boston's favorite long reliever pitched one scoreless inning. In this great month of July for the team, Aceves has pitched 23.2 innings, allowing just six earned runs, good for a 2.28 ERA. Daniel Bard came on in relief for Aceves and once again pitched masterfully, extending his scoreless inning streak to 26.1 innings. For an idea of just how dominant he has been in this stretch, he has given up just 11 hits, and 6 walks, while striking out 25 batters. To complete what has been an unreal 1-2 punch in the back of the bullpen, Papelbon came out for a dominant 9th inning to record the save. Papelbon struck out the side, relying on his 96 MPH fastball for 15 of his 17 pitches. The win gave Paps his 24th save, the third most in baseball amongst those with 1 or 0 blown saves.

Quick Hits
  • David Ortiz once again struggled at the plate, going 1-5 with two strike outs in the game. He is now just 2 for his last 21, with four strike outs and a walk in that span.
  • Jason Varitek put the Sox on the board in the third with a two run homer to left. The combination of Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia now has a .251/.325/.455 triple slash line, with 16 homers and 56 RBI. The combination is good enough for second in OPS, 1st in homers and 2nd in RBI amongst AL teams at the position.
  • Adrian Gonzalez is quietly in the middle of quite the stretch. He has a 10-game hitting streak, and has been hitting .535 during the stretch, and has had multiple hits in eight of the ten games. On Sunday, he went 2-5 with an RBI and two doubles.

The Red Sox come back home to take on the Indians on Monday night at 7:00 PM ET. Boston sends John Lackey (9-8 6.20) to the mound against Cleveland's Josh Tomlin (11-5 4.01).    

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