Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 0
In order, the biggest reasons why the Red Sox won last night:
1. Jon Lester got tired of being the object of hand-wringing doubt and learned, if only for one night, that strikes are neat and pitchcounts, like golf scores, are best when they're low.
2. Dustin Pedroia flung his wee body around with absolute disregard for his own safety.
3. Kevin Youkilis took advantage of Roy Halladay's really hard luck (4 consecutive complete games with only one win to show for it) and doinked a clutch single to center (see #5 for the rest of the story).
4. Jonathan Papelbon awoke from his week-long slumber and (with Pedroia's notable help) dispatched the Jays in the 9th.
5. David Ortiz scared the ever-lovin' strike zone out of Halladay to draw a walk, moved to second on a single by Manny Ramirez, then so scared Vernon Wells for Gregg Zaun's safety that the Jays' centerfielder dropped Youkilis' single rather than be responsible for killing his teammate on a play at the plate. Mercy buckets, Vernon.
The greatest of these, then, is Lester's response to the wailing of the masses. Close to being relegated to afterthought behind Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson, and surely worried about the comparison with the rest of rotation's recent outings (of considerable note, Sox starters over the last 5 games have put up 35 innings of 1.80 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, striking out 33 and allowing only 16 hits - and lost 4 of the 5.) Lester once again flashed his sizable potential. (Of equally considerable note, I've seen a quite different Lester flash, and sizable is not a word we'd generally choose to characterize his "potential".) This should serve to keep the wolves at bay in the hyper-critical Nation for at least 5 days.
And, ahem, Mr. Matsuzaka and the afore-maligned Red Sox offense, we'll be watching tonight.