BOSTON -- First impressions of the Red Sox 6-4 win over Toronto:
The knuckleball continues to be a friend -- and enemy.
Although Steven Wright held the Blue Jays in check enough for the Red Sox offense to get the win, his knuckleball continues to be very difficult for Ryan Hanigan to handle.
All three of the runs Wright allowed -- all of which went as unearned -- were a result of at least one passed ball. That’s not to say he pitched poorly or that he’s another problem for the Red Sox pitching staff. But when you have to rely that heavily on a knuckleball pitcher, that’s one of the results you have to deal with.
The Red Sox continue to run the bases well -- even better than the stat sheet shows.
Both Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts advanced to third on plays where Toronto was napping.
In the first, Pedroia snuck to third base with Marcus Stroman locked in against David Ortiz, while his defense shifted, making it even easier for Pedroia to advance.
Later in the third, Bogaerts’ was off on the 3-2 pitch to Ortiz with no outs. Papi grounded it softly to second and by the time Justin Smoak receive Darwin Barney’s throw it was too late. His advancement would help lead to a run. Plays like that will continue to give Boston an extra edge offensively.
Jose Bautista gave the Red Sox a taste of their own medicine on the base paths.
After walking and making it to second on a passed ball in the fifth, Bautista took off for third when Michael Saunders tried reach base safely on a dropped third strike. The ball bounced far enough away for Saunders to reach safely, and let Ryan Goins score. But with Hanigan nearly in Boston’s dugout and Wright nowhere near home, Bautista caught the Red Sox sleeping.
Wright has to cover the plate in that situation. But more importantly, Hanigan and Travis Shaw dropped the ball. Shaw has to let everyone know Bautista’s going home. Hanigan should’ve realized the situation and identified that he had no chance at throwing Saunders out.
It was good to see Junichi Tazawa have a strong performance.
After allowing five earned runs in his last two outings, Taz finally held down the fort for Boston. He complemented his 93-94 MPH fastball with his 12-6 curve -- which buckled Edwin Encarnacion -- and his splitter.
It’s gotten to the point where Taz is just as important as Craig Kimbrel is -- so he’ll need to produce more appearances like Saturday’s.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar