First impressions from the Red Sox' 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres:
* It was only one inning, but Koji Uehara's return to the mound was encouraging.
Uehara hadn't pitched since July 19, sidelined with a pectoral muscle, and for a time, it wasn't a sure thing that Uehara would pitch again this season.
But Uehara was activated from the DL Monday and made his return to action Wednesday night.
Uehara faced three hitters and retired them in order -- the first two by strikeout and the third on a routine flyout.
The inning featured vintage Uehara - which is to say that he threw an 87-88 mph fastball and got hitters to chase his split-finger fastball. The fastball isn't going to overpower anyone, but mixed with the split, it's enough to keep hitters off balance.
Uehara's deception helps make the fastball more powerful than the radar gun would suggest. If Uehara can have similar effectiveness going forward, he can have a real impact in the last three weeks.
* The Sox used some smart baserunning for the second straight night.
On Tuesday, Mookie Betts took an extra base in the fifth inning when right fielder Oswaldo Arcia lost focus and seemed unsure where to throw the ball back into the infield.
On Wednesday, the Sox took advantage of another instance in which the Padres were apparently asleep.
In the fourth inning, with Chris Young at second and Travis Shaw on first, the Padres weren't holding either baserunner on and reliever Carlos Villanueva indifferent to the runners, both Young and Shaw took off and each was credited with a stolen base, going in standing up.
That aggressive play then paid off when Dustin Pedroia, a batter later, slammed a double into the left field corner, scoring both runners.
* In September, the Red Sox have discovered the appeal of the pinch-hit homer.
Through the first 136 games of the season, the Red Sox had no pinch-hit homers.
In a sense, that's not a huge surprise, since, given the strength of the everyday lineup, they don't have to pinch-hit much. Contrast that to a National League team like the St. Louis Cardinals, who have hit 20 pinch-hit homers this year.
Then, twice in the last three games, the Sox snapped the drought. On Labor Day, Chris Young homered in the ninth inning to cut the Padres 2-0 lead in half. Then, on Wednesday, with fans at Petco Park clamoring for David Ortiz in the ninth inning, Brock Holt went up in the pitcher's spot and he, too, drilled a pinch-hit homer.
That's two in three days after none in the first five months.