The Boston Red Sox evened up their series at Wrigley Field last night, beating the Chicago Cubs 4-3 in interleague play.
Jon Lester pitched a gem, holding the Cubs to three runs, all of which scored on one mistake pitch that Luis Valbuena slammed into left field for a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning. Prior to that, Lester had allowed a double to Jeff Baker and a walk to the next hitter. Valentine saw enough, and brought in Scott Atchison to end the seventh inning. If we’re being honest, I fell asleep after that, so I didn’t watch Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves clean up the last two frames for Boston – but apparently they did, since no more runs scored. Exciting Saturday night, folks.
Lester was just what the Red Sox needed him to be – strong, effective, unemotional, and confident. By the time Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija had thrown seventy-something pitches, Lester had thrown 29. That’s insane.
Offensively, the Red Sox scored enough runs to win, but they made some baserunning mistakes along the way. In the first inning, David Ortiz walked. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who hit cleanup and earned it, mashing a two-run home run that gave the Sox the lead in the fourth inning) hit a double to deep right field. You could tell that Ortiz thought he’d only get to second base on the hit, or *maybe* to third – he was kind of loping around second base when you could just see this lightbulb go off in his head. He “sped up” (I use the term loosely since Ortiz doesn’t really have any speed to speak of), galloped around third, and was promptly thrown out at the plate by a mile. Then, in the sixth inning, Saltalamacchia got into a baserunning jam of his own, and got caught between second and third to end a would-be rally against a tiring Samardzija.
Saltalamacchia also had a great day behind the plate. He threw out Starlin Castro at second base. I think Joe Buck and Tim McCarver said that Castro had only been thrown out on 7 out of 43 stealing attempts – so this was good. Will Middlebrooks, meanwhile, didn’t have the best day in the field. The reason Starlin Castro was on first base to try to steal second was due to a Middlebrooks throwing error. And, the sixth inning won’t exactly have a place in Middlebrooks’s highlight reel: he made a late throw on Darwin Barney, and then missed what should have been a routine ground ball to let Castro onto first base again.
Luckily for the Red Sox, Alfonso Soriano hit a ground ball to third and then, instead of, you know, running down to first base, Soriano watched Middlebrooks bobble the ball twice before starting a half-hearted trot. Middlebrooks threw Soriano out, but had Sori run, he would have had a shot at getting on. The Cubs fans at Wrigley didn’t take this too well, and booed Soriano lustily.
Here’s the box score, courtesy of the Red Sox. The Cubs and the Sox finish up their interleague matchup today. Josh Beckett got sent to the 15-day disabled list to deal with his inflamed shoulder, so Franklin Morales will get the start for Boston.