Reporting Dan Roche
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BOSTON (CBS) – The big story following Boston’s 3-0 loss to the Tigers on Monday was simple: the Red Sox won’t go far in the postseason because they can’t hit great pitching.
The Sox couldn’t get anything done against Detroit starter Doug Fister and the Tigers bullpen, managing just six hits and going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
I thought that game had a playoff feel to it, and the Boston batters did what they’ve done all season too — grind out at-bats and get the starter’s pitch count up. However, they just couldn’t come up with a that big hit when they needed it.
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It wasn’t the end of the world, although some in the media were quick to declare that the Sox wouldn’t and couldn’t win in the postseason.
Well, the Sox responded Tuesday night.
Will Middlebrooks, who’s had a tough sophomore season, delivered a huge two-run single in the fifth inning after a single by Jonny Gomes and double from Stephen Drew. That blow off Max Scherzer propelled Boston to a 2-1 win over as the two top teams in the AL continued what could be an ALCS preview.
Now, as for the argument that the Sox can’t hit great pitching, I don’t think many teams can. When I see Detroit roll out Justin Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, and Anibal Sanchez, it makes me declare the Tigers as the team to beat this year.
However, many times, these playoff games come down to the bullpen, and I don’t think Detroit’s is unhittable, especially closer Joaquin Benoit. In other words, I’ll take my chances if I’m the Sox in a late game that is close.
This leads me back to Tuesday night. It was the “signature win” of the season. Yes, there have been all the great comebacks, but this one was as well-executed as it gets.
Jon Lester, who gets crushed around here for not being an elite ace, battled his butt off for seven innings as he allowed just one run on eight hits while walking none and striking out a season-high nine batters.
After that, John Farrell called upon his bullpen to preserve his team’s 2-1 lead. He dialed up Brandon Workman to retire Miguel Cabrera, Craig Breslow to get Prince Fiekder, and Junichi Tazawa to strike out Omar Infante.
The ninth belonged to arguably your team MVP Koji Uehara, who needed just nine pitches to nail down his 17th save and the victory for the Sox — their AL-leading 83rd of the season.
That was perhaps a preview of Red Sox playoff baseball, something we haven’t seen since 2009. It came against a 19-1 pitcher, who battled as well with seven innings of two-run ball.
Now, does this mean the Red Sox will win a World Series? Of course not. But, I do think it’s time that all Sox fans embrace this team for what it’s accomplished so far, and for what looks like a team that will make the postseason.
After that, who knows? However, don’t even think about the recent past with this team because that’s the furthest thing from their minds. They just keep doing what they’ve done from day one of Spring Training: show up, work hard, and have a blast until the final out.
Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.