With a crack and a bat flip, the long, local nightmare was on its way to being over.
Stacked up, it led to a 4-3 Sox win last night in front of just 12,754 at Safeco Field, snapping a soul-wrenching seven-game losing streak, Boston’s longest in more than a decade.
“It feels good to shake hands,” said Ross, who hit his 20th homer. “It’s been a while. A really long time. A week now? But, we’re not going to give up.”
Herald | Red Sox finally score a win
It was also the first time the Red Sox had a lead since August 28. August 28!
Credit for the win appears to go to the bullpen, though I can't say personally because there was no way I was watching this group try to pull out a win at 2:00 AM in Seattle. Andrew Bailey got the save, but he was quick to credit Junichi Tazawa, who got the Sox out of a two-on, one-out jam in the 7th.
Meanwhile, Bobby V said he's been trying to get Tazawa in high-leverage situations "for weeks". Wonder why he couldn't make that happen? Maybe cause the team keeps getting steamrolled?
Obviously, the outcome isn't all that important, but some other bits of progress are. Ryan Lavarnway hit the decisive homer, his first in a month. Jose Iglesias got his first hit of 2012. Dustin Pedroia continued his torrid pace with a two-hit game. In fact, everyone other than Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who struck out twice while I was writing his name) got into the hit column.
Bailey was solid, and so was starter Jon Lester, who threw a quality start of six-inning, three-run ball. If Lester can keep heading in the right direction, it gives a lot of hope for the rotation next year, as at least three solid-to-good options (Buchholz, Lester, Doubront) will be locked in.
On page 2, more on Lavarnway.
Instead it’s been one struggle after another for Lavarnway, who has spent most of the season in the minor leagues, has played in fewer than two dozen games for the Red Sox and has been well under the Mendoza line for most of that time.
So Tuesday’s performance as a designated hitter, crushing a tie-breaking home run in the sixth inning to give Boston a 4-3 win over Seattle that snapped a seven-game losing streak, was good for the soul.
"This was supposed to be the year that I wanted to focus on showing what I could do defensively," Lavarnway said. "I expect a lot of myself, and I’m not used to struggling like this."
Lavarnway played in 83 games in the minor leagues with indifferent success at the plate, a decent .295 average but only eight homers for Pawtucket. A year ago, he had 18 bombs in just 61 games at Triple-A.
He was called up to the big leagues at the beginning of August and spent the next five weeks without a homer and had a .174 average coming into Tuesday.
ESPNBoston | Lavarnway 'helps cleanse the mind'
That must be one of the hardest parts about the development of young players. So much attention is paid to what you lack -- fielding fundamentals, hitting technique, throwing mechanics, developing a new pitch, running better routes to balls, plate discipline, etc. -- that it must sometimes be hard to keep yourself focused on what you do well.
We know that it's likely that Lavarnway will be a better defensive catcher than Saltalamacchia, because he's been commended for his defensive work this year in the minors, and also because Salty is, while a hard worker, a pretty lousy defensive catcher. Texas wouldn't have given up on him if he weren't. His catcher ERA (an imperfect stat, I know) would be better if he weren't. Terry Francona wouldn't have benched him for the last two games of last year if he weren't.
Lavarnway should also be a better hitter. He's got just as much power and what appears to be a better eye. Hopefully this homer will jumpstart him to a solid final month so people can remember how good he can be.
Herald | Bill James will add to club | Rays drop Yankees into first-place tie | Quiroz catches on with Red Sox in Seattle | An up and down season for Clayton Mortensen | Globe | Red Sox end skid, beat Mariners | De Jesus got what he wanted in trade to Red Sox | Bailey secures a big win for Red Sox | ESPNBoston | Red Sox stave off Mariners to snap 7-game losing streak | Sox acquire Triple-A catcher from Mariners | Mortensen finally up to stay | CSNNE | First win of road trip offers bit of relief to Sox | Red Sox snap 7-game skid, beat Mariners, 4-3 |