The moment when Jacoby Ellsbury crossed the plate in the bottom of the tenth inning on Saturday was the beginning of the new Red Sox under John Farrell. The Sox had just beaten the Tampa Bay Rays with the same combination of aggressive base-running and pitching that the Rays had used to dominate the Red Sox in recent years.
The Red Sox held the Rays to one run with a succession of strong pitchers from the new John Lester and revamped Andrew Bailey to the relentless pounding of the strike zone by Koji Uhehara. For the Red Sox of previous seasons extra innings had been like Russian Roulette, with each reliever coming out of the bullpen a possible bullet or an empty chamber. In 2013 the chambers are mostly empty.
The Red Sox scored on a single, a stolen base, an advance on an overthrow and an infield hit. How many times had the Rays used that formula to beat them? The Rays have always been the fundamentally sound team that pushes their opponents into mistakes. That formula has worked consistently against the Red Sox since 2008.
Another way the Rays could beat you was getting run production out of role players with .200 batting averages. On Saturday the Red Sox plated their other run with a home run from their back-up catcher, David Ross. That catcher, if he never hits another home run, will earn his keep throwing out base runners.
Fabric is the key to the new Red Sox. Defensive fabric and offensive fabrication. The beauty of this style of game is that it can produce a victory on any given day, not just the day Will Middlebrooks hits three home runs. The Sox could always win with power. Now they are winning with fabric.