Allen Webster

Why you should have cared about Friday's Red Sox game: Allen Webster turns a corner; Rusney Castillo makes his travel plans; Koji Uehara returns

Rob Bradford
September 12, 2014 - 8:07 pm
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(For the final month of the regular season, "Closing Time" will be called "Why you should have cared," looking beyond the final score -- at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) -- for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.) KANSAS CITY -- This undoubtedly was Allen Webster's shining moment as a major league pitcher. Not only did the Red Sox starter get out of a significant three-start rut -- allowing just two runs over six innings in the Sox's 4-2 win over the Royals Friday night -- but he did so with something significant on the line. Webster, the pitcher who has had uneven results throughout his eight previous starts (6.47 ERA), was in control throughout almost all of his 83 pitches. The difference this time around, besides the simple fact there were better results, was Webster's command. For the first time this season, he walked just one batter, staying ahead of the struggling KC lineup throughout the night. "A higher percentage of strikes tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his pitcher. "I thought he was ahead in the count a little bit more frequently, and he had a very good changeup against some left-handers to slow them down. With the exception of the one changeup that stayed up to [Eric] Hosmer (a two-run homer), he was efficient, he was powerful, and it was encouraging to see not only the number of strikes, but the overall command of the strike zone." OTHER REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT FRIDAY'S GAME: -- Rusney Castillo finally has his ticket to the big leagues. The Cuban outfielder actually postponed his arrival with the Red Sox thanks to a two-out, two-strike RBI single in the ninth inning of the Pawtucket Red Sox' International League championship series against Durham. The hit sent the teams into extra innings, where the PawSox ultimately claimed a 14-inning, 4-2 win. The victory forced a fifth and decisive game, while also pushing Castillo's arrival time with the Red Sox to Tuesday in Pittsburgh. -- While Castillo undoubtedly will add to the Red Sox' overall team speed, the presence of players like Mookie Betts, Jemile Weeks and Yoenis Cespedes has noticeably changed the dynamic of Farrell's club. Not only did Cespedes became the first player to attempt a stolen base against Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura in the righty's first 176 innings, but the Sox outfielder was successful. The execution may have led to a surprised pitcher, who threw a 98 mph fastball into the ground on the play, allowing Betts to come in from third. Cespedes also forced a throwing error from third baseman Mike Moustakas thanks some hard running down the first-base line. Weeks (2 doubles) and Betts chipped in by combining for three runs while consistently putting pressure on a shaky Kansas City defense. - Koji Uehara finally returned to the mound, and returned to his old form in the process. The reliever, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 4 after going on a horrific run of six straight subpar relief appearances, came on and tossed a perfect eighth inning with the Sox holding a two-run lead. Uehara got Nori Aoki to fly out to left field, Omar Infante swinging on a third strike, and Alex Gordon via a line drive to right. He threw a total of 15 pitches, 12 of which were strikes. "We're hopeful the remainder of the season will be on an upward trend for him," Farrell said. "But the first time back, it's important for him to come back and have a positive outing. It might not have been the lowest of leverage situations, but he was the one who was available. We know he's always going to throw strikes. A very encouraging night for him."