The Boston Red Sox took a break from their losing ways to snatch an 8-6 victory away from the Atlanta Braves on Monday, overcoming a poor effort from starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and weathering a rain delay to eventually emerge victorious. The two-run victory was their first in 11 contests, and could prove to be multiple things for the squad. Monday's victory could be a harbinger that they have righted the ship and will play like many people think they should, and it could also be simply be a team winning because it is incredibly difficult to lose too many games in a row in baseball.
Even with the victory, there were troubling signs for the Red Sox, starting first and foremost with the fantastically ineffective pitching of Buchholz for the first three innings of the contest before he was mercifully removed by manager John Farrell. In his three-plus innings of work, Buchholz faced 21 batters and managed the impressive, in a completely disastrous way, feat of walking a total of eight Braves hitters; additionally, he also gave up four hits, meaning that more than half of the batters he faced ended up on base.
Buchholz then continued to play his role of accommodating host by refusing to strand too many of the Braves runners, conceding four runs of his own to the Braves and then being charged for an additional two runs since reliever Burke Badenhop was unable to strand Buchholz's base runners in the fourth inning. The two pitchers thus combined to give the Braves a 6-1 edge and a win probability of 95.3 percent after four innings.
With the Red Sox falling behind by such a large margin, the game appeared as if it would play out the same way as many of the other games the Red Sox have played this season: with the Red Sox losing through a combination of poor pitching and absent hitting. Yet, the team battled back in a big way in the top of the fifth inning as they rode two walks, a single, a double, and a three-run home run to put five runs on the board, with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz delivering the RBI hits.
The Red Sox offense struck again in the seventh inning, albeit in slightly less impressive fashion, to take the lead in the contest entering the later innings. That time, the Red Sox employed a strategy of utilizing three singles, two walks, and a sacrifice fly to tack on an additional two runs and give themselves their first commanding edge of the contest.
From that point, to ensure victory, all the Red Sox needed was for their bullpen to shut down any remaining vestiges of the Braves offense, which Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller, and Koji Uehara were able to do. The three pitchers combined to face the minimum number of Braves batters and kept the Braves from reaching second base over the final three innings of the game.
Thanks to their victory, the Red Sox are now only four games below .500 and just eight games out of first place in the American League East so the rest of the division better take notice of the fact that when the Red Sox play 11 games, they are likely to win at least one of them.