Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over the Yankees
Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 5-3 win over the New York Yankees.
1) Steven Wright didn't go deep into the game, but he got the Red Sox off on the right foot.
Four days isn't long for most people, but for baseball players, notorious creatures of habit, it might as well be four weeks.
The Red Sox -- like all other teams -- enjoyed the All-Star break, but after the time off, sometimes it takes a little extra something to get a team going again.
Offensively, the Red Sox had just two hits and one run through the first four innings last night, still shaking off the rust from the break. But until they found themselves -- with a two-run homer from Travis Shaw in the fifth and a two-run shot from Xander Bogaerts in the sixth, Wright kept the Yankees idling.
"What's so important to (what he did),'' said John Farrell, "is you come off a stretch of days where you've been inactive and the ability to keep a game under control, put up zeroes until we can come up with the opportunity to score some runs -- that's invaluable.''
A key for Wright: he stuck with his knuckleball even when he ran into some trouble.
Wright acknowledges that he erred by throwing as many fastballs in the last month, to the point where he had become predictable in some counts.
2) John Farrell is finding out how to utilize a bullpen that has a different look for now.
Craig Kimbrel, the closer, is on the shelf for another few weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Junichi Tazawa is close to returning later this week when the Sox return home, but isn't ready yet.
Additionally, Brad Ziegler is a newcomer, still trying to fit in.
Overseeing it is Farrell, who doesn't have the luxury of having Tazawa and Koji Uehara in the seventh and eighth and Kimbrel in the ninth.
Friday night, he used Matt Barnes to close out the sixth, then got an inning each from Ziegler, Robbie Ross Jr. and, as his temporary closer, Uehara.
"I think we have the ability to use keep everyone involved,'' said Farrell. "You take the performance that they've established, try to use it to the best of our advantage and know that we still have a couple of power guys down at the end of the bullpen.''
Ziegler could play a key role in that he's efficient (seven pitches to record three outs Friday night) and hitters don't get good swings off him.
He's not someone who's going to get a lot of swing-and-misses, but he can induce weak contact (grounders, pop-ups) and move an inning along quickly without taxing himself.
3) Travis Shaw is often streaky when it comes to power.
Typically, Shaw's homers come in bunches. Ween he gets hot, he's capable of knocking a few homers out in a week.
That's the case of late. Shaw homered Friday night, giving him three homers in the last 11 games.
Shaw said he's taken a more direct approach at the plate of late.
"I'm trying to get back to stuff,'' Shaw said, "and get back to trying to drive the ball and impact the baseball a little bit more and, I guess, not get cheated when I do go for it. It's felt pretty good the past week. I'm definitely been being a little more aggressive and the first (pitch) I feel like I can drive, I just go after it.''