This must have been the kind of win Theo Epstein imagined when he built the 2010 Red Sox: a superlative starter, a reliable reliever, and a shutdown closer combining forces to blank the opposition.
What was unexpected is the summoning of Darnell McDonald and his impact on the team. The minor league free agent blasted his way onto the major league scene on April 20 with a game-tying pinch-hit homer and walkoff RBI single and since then has been a solid contributor. He led off the sixth with a stand-up double to the left-center gap, advanced to third on Marco Scutaro’s ground ball single up the middle, and tagged up on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly to center. The outfielder also drove in the insurance run in the seventh.
Jon Lester’s seasonal pattern is a string of poor outings until a breakout game. His 7 inning, 1 hit, 2 walk, 11 strikeout performance might just be the switch that turns Lester from putrid to prodigious.
Daniel Bard surrendered the only other hit for the Blue Jays: a soaring double to center off the bat of Alex Gonzalez. Cito Gaston pinch hit each of the next three batters, replacing the bottom slots of the order with what he hoped would be more productive hitters. Each one of the trio, Adam Lind, Fred Lewis, and Travis Snider, struck out. Jonathan Papelbon hurled a perfect frame to notch his seventh save.
While Lester epitomized the dazzlingly dominant southpaw, his counterpart Brett Cecil was the definition of crafty lefty. Cecil’s fastball hovered between the high 80s to low 90s, neither over-powering nor puny. He neither walked (only Jason Varitek in the second) nor struck out (J.D. Drew, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Beltre) many batters, but was just around the plate enough to induce four ground outs and eight fly outs.
One of the few fans in attendance to show any interest in the game was Geddy Lee. Jerry Remy mocked the folks in the luxury box next to the booth. When Pedroia sent a foul ball into the luxury box in the eighth there was no one to catch and drop it, as people in luxury boxes are wont to do. Instead, one of the baseball cognoscenti diverted his attention away from his cosmopolitan long enough to see the ball fly into the box. “That guy was sprinting for the baseball and it was in a chair,” noted Remy. “First time he’s looked at the field all night.”
I can’t decide whether that incident or the fourth-inning hunt for Jose Bautista’s foul ball in the almost entirely empty right field stands was more woeful. Then again, it is Canada and it is Stanley Cup season.
|Game 22: April 28, 2010|
|2||W: Jon Lester (1-2)|
H: Daniel Bard (5)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (7)
|2B: Bill Hall (1), Darnell McDonald (2), Kevin Youkilis (7), Adrian Beltre (5)|
|0||L: Brett Cecil (1-1)|
|2B: Vernon Wells (11), Alex Gonzalez (10)|