The Red Sox will take a 5-1 lead into the seventh inning thanks largely to one big swing from Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Amazingly, Andrew Miller has finished up his night in line for a strong win, being pulled from the game after 5.1 innings of one-run ball. While it wasn’t the sort of outing that could acquit him of his previous difficulties, with only two walks and three hits it also wasn’t one of those tight-rope walks that he’s been known for when he’s not giving up five-or-more runs. He was pulled fairly early with only 83 pitches on his arm and after striking out Melky Cabrera, likely to let him leave on a good note. Alfredo Aceves came in and finished up the sixth in relief, requiring just eight pitches to do so.
Things didn’t go quite so well for Jeff Francis, and the trouble started quickly in the fourth, as Carl Crawford led off the frame with a double to right field. Saltalamacchia couldn’t bring him home, grounding out to shortstop, but Darnell McDonald his a long fly ball that dropped just beyond the reach of a diving Melky Cabrera, leaving him at third with Crawford long since having scored. One sacrifice fly from Jacoby Ellsbury later, and the Sox had a 2-1 lead.
The offense kept going in the fifth. Jed Lowrie led things off with a single, and moved to second as Ryan Lavarnway picked up his first Major League hit on a sharply-hit ground ball to right field. With one out and two men on, up stepped Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The 0-2 pitch from Francis was a low changeup, but Salty dropped down—almost to one knee-and took a big swing, lifting the ball high and deep to left, where it found the walkway well above and back of the bullpens to give the Sox a 5-1 lead.