The Boston Red Sox are finally playing baseball like they wanted to. They had shown flashes of it earlier but were still inconsistent. Now though, it seems that everything is coming together.
Jon Lester battled early last night but was dominant after. And while he didn't pick up the win, he did get some timely hitting from David Ortiz, Will Middlebrooks and Adrian Gonzalez in the 6-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. It's the third straight game the Red Sox have defeated the Tigers.
Given that Lester had thrown 74 pitches or so during the first four innings of his outing, you probably would have thought he wouldn't last too long in the game. A good portion of those came in the 1st and 3rd innings when the Tigers did their damage against him. It wasn't like he was awful then either.
He missing his locations but still had good stuff. But a few adjustments here and there helped Lester turn things around on his way to seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.
I've said this before but a majority of the times the Red Sox face a pitcher they haven't seen before, they usually struggle. That was the case the first time through the order against Tigers starter Drew Smyly as only Marlon Byrd managed to get a hit.
Things changed though in the 4th as it appeared the Red Sox hitters made the right adjustments against him. Smyly had gotten the first two outs of the inning but then the heart of the local nine's lineup made their marks.
Gonzalez hit a ground rule double and then came in to score on a Big Papi two-run homer. Kevin Youkilis followed that up with a single and promptly came around to score on a Middlebrooks laser beam home run into the Green Monster seats. Middlebrooks' home run got out of the park in about 2.4 seconds. With those two two-run homers, the Red Sox went from trailing 3-0 to winning 4-3.
The Tigers would tie it up in the 7th but another Gonzo ground rule double brought in Daniel Nava for the winning run of the game. Youk would add a solo home run to give the Red Sox an insurance run in the 8th.
Alfredo Aceves, who was pitching for the fourth straight day, made sure the Red Sox would move to two games over .500 as he notched his lucky number 13th save of 2012.
The one thing we have to recognize here is the fact the Red Sox haven't been a whole team for the entire 2012 season. By whole, I mean the players who were expected to be in the lineup.
The "parts" who have come into replace the injured stars have done an excellent job. Guys like Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, Scott Atchison (was on roster but has been outstanding), Middlebrooks and Nava, have all done yeoman's work and helped the team in various ways. And when you put that in with the established parts, things are going quite well.
You can see it in their faces. The Red Sox are definitely a much happier club these days. They are 14-5 since Big Papi held the player's only meeting.
And there's nothing like winning that'll bring a team together. Hopefully that continues tonight with Josh Beckett on the bump.
We'll be back later on today with today's lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and links from the day. So for now, let's take at look at the overnight links from the media by clicking on the read more button below if you're on the home page.
To open the links up in a new tab or window, use Control+click
Red Sox keep things moving in the right direction [Boston Globe]
Pedroia braced - but no roster move yet [Boston Globe]
A sacrifice executed [Boston Globe]
Red Sox showing heart [Boston Herald]
Jon Lester's stuff all there [Boston Herald]
Dustin Pedroia braces for best [Boston Herald]
Ortiz won't participate in Home Run Derby [Rob Bradford - WEEI.com]
Red Sox Recent Success Comes From Deep Roster, Not Just Star Players [Tom Caron - NESN.com]
Sox take third straight from Tigers, 6-4 [CSN New England]
Valentine: Lester had 'best stuff of the year' [CSN New England]
Valentine faces balancing act with Sox roster [CSN New England]
Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 6, Tigers 4 [ESPN Boston]
'Tweet the Vote' for Salty, Red Sox All-Stars [RedSox.com]
Sox may play shorthanded until Pedroia returns [RedSox.com]
Sox bring awareness to ALS at Fenway Park [RedSox.com]
Unselfish Adrian delivers in clutch situation [RedSox.com]
Aceves pitches for fourth straight day, gets save [RedSox.com]
Entering the new world order: A 2012 Red Sox draft primer [Alex Speier - WEEI.com]
photo credit: Getty Images