Leftovers from a wild night at Fenway
Wow, was there ever a lot going on at Fenway last night! It was hard to include it all in the game coverage, so here are some leftovers.
Takashi Saito has pitched in a lot of non-pressure situations this season, not as a reflection of him, but because of how dominant the rest of the bullpen has been. Saito’s inning and a third of shutout relief wound up being crucial on Thursday, given Boston’s comeback win. It was Saito’s 100th career win when you combine his work in Japanese pro baseball, and his first with the Red Sox.
“There are many pitchers out there with better numbers than I have, but to put it very simply I am very happy today, more than anything I’m happy that I was able to get my first win as a member of the Red Sox,” said Saito.
As for Saito’s former teammate with the Dodgers and current teammate Brad Penny, he was stunningly electric last night. I would say Penny’s shoulder has come all the way back from the right shoulder woes of a year ago. His fastball was exploding into the upper 90s, as he fired six shutout innings against the Yankees.
“I would say my mechanics are getting a little better,” Penny said. “I’m staying behind the ball and driving off my back foot.”
Then there is Big Papi. The big man with the big swing and the even bigger slump is finally getting hot. He crushed that homer against Sabathia, staying on the ball perfectly and belting it like the Papi of Old instead of an Old Papi.
“When I hit the ball oppo like that, it’s a sign that I’m waiting for the ball good. I’m trying to stay through the ball. I’ve been feeling a lot better at the plate,” Ortiz said.
“That was a good swing,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “He’s getting better and better every day and that’s a huge sign for us.”
Then there is Nick Green, who has started the last five games and turned Julio Lugo invisible. The play he made in the ninth might have been a game-saver.
“Not too many shortstops make that play,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
Papelbon actually told Green the play won them the game, though a lot of others think it was Pedroia’s 10-pitch walk.
Either way, the Red Sox seem to be rounding into form at just the right time, heading into a weekend series with the defending World Series champions.
“It’s not just that we’re getting momentum by winning games,” Papelbon said. “I think we’re gaining momentum with our players .David is starting to feel it, Josh is starting to feel it, our bullpen is starting to feel it. We just have to stay on this wave and ride it out.”