To win Saturday afternoon's contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox utilized one of their more tried and true formulas. Riding one big run-scoring inning and reasonably effective starting pitching, the Red Sox were able to dispatch the Dodgers in a 4-2 victory, allowing them to remain in a tie for first place in the American League East division.
Concentrating all their offensive exploits into the first inning, the Red Sox started the game off in masterful fashion, spinning a hit by batter and three consecutive hits into four runs. The RBI hits came courtesy of a Mike Napoli RBI single and a three-run home run by Jonny Gomes. It was Gomes's home run that eventually proved to be the deciding hit for the entire ballgame. Overall, the exploits of the Red Sox offense in the opening frame gave them a win probability added of .368 for the inning.
The way in which the offense performed in the first inning was definitely not a harbinger of things to come as it soon became obvious the Red Sox had chosen to sprint out to a lead and then rest on their laurels for the rest of the game; one can imagine they read the story of the tortoise and the hare and deduced that the hare had the right idea about how to do things.
Not only did the Red Sox score all their runs in the first inning, but they also collected almost half of the eight hits the team would finish the game with. Furthermore, the Red Sox hitters spent the rest of the eight innings contest slowly, but surely, frittering away the win probability added they had amassed in the first inning. They ended the game with a win probability added of .259.
Still, the four runs proved to be enough thanks to the pitching of Jon Lester, who was effective for the most part in limiting the Dodgers to scoring only one run during 7.3 innings. Lester's strategy proved to be to trust the defensive efficiency of his teammates. In doing so, he was not disappointed as the Red Sox defense recorded 14 outs on the 17 balls the Dodgers put into play against Lester.
Since the vast majority of the balls the Dodgers put into play on Lester's pitchers were of the fly ball and line drive variety, 10 fly balls and 4 line drives to be exact, Lester was fortunate the Dodgers were not able to do any more damage than they did. Lester also benefited from raising his pitching level when runners did make it on base; he posted a left on base percentage of 85.7 percent. While he was not close to excellent on fielding-independent statistics, he did get the job done.
After Lester was removed from the contest, the Red Sox bullpen also accomplished their mission of preserving the lead. Relievers Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow did combine their unimpressive efforts to allow the Dodgers to push across a run in the eighth inning, but Breslow was able to weather the mess they got themselves into. Then Koji Uehara came on in the ninth inning to completely shut down the Dodgers' chances of winning.
It was a good win for the Red Sox, and one they will need to build upon going forward. They have already spent too much of the month of August trading wins and losses. If they wish to win the division title, it is incumbent upon the club to get back to their winning ways as they did on Saturday.