I try to avoid gloating in print, but the Red Sox performance Friday night was just what I predicted yesterday before game time. They became a defensive juggernaut with the insertion of Iglesias in the the infield. Even Mike Napoli, never touted for his prowess at first base, delivered several critical stops earning the commendation of pitcher John Lackey. As ESPN noted this morning:
Indeed, while Napoli deserves loads of credit for his stellar play with the glove, the entire infield was on its game. And it had to be, for Lackey was getting the Cleveland hitters to pound everything into the ground. In addition to eight strikeouts, he recorded 12 outs on the ground and just one through the air in seven stellar innings.
Iglesias received notice as the “brand-new third baseman” for making his two chances “neither of which were routine, look easy.” Operating from the corner instead of the center of the diamond, Iglesias still sets the tone for the defense. Both Dustin Pedroia and Lackey himself made athletic plays to cut down potential rallies by the Indians.
The Red Sox are a different team when the defense raises its game. Mike Carp ended a 0 for 21 slump with a titanic three-run homer. Ellsbury drove in two runs for a month-long total of 5. And the team left only three runners on base. They often leave that many on in one inning.
With Iglesias on the field, we have a new version of the Red Sox, the “Darned Sox.” They stand up, they hold, they stretch, they make plays and even drive in runs. A few more runs won’t hurt these Sox.