Watching from center field, Darnell McDonald marveled at the sight of Jon Lester striking out one Blue Jay after another, 11 in all.
“That,” he said, “was a beautiful thing.”
Lester allowed one hit, a double by Vernon Wells in the second inning. He retired 18 of the 19 batters that followed. Lester threw 75 of his 119 pitches for strikes and had command of all his pitches for the first time this season, locating a changeup that was deadly against right-handed hitters.
For a team built around the strength of its starting rotation, seeing Clay Buchholz and Lester allow one run over 15 innings in the last two games was important. Once Josh Beckett joins the party, the Sox should get rolling.
That’s five wins in the last six games and seven out of nine. At 11-11 the Sox are alone in third and it feels like the season has started over.
A cynic — not that there are any of those in New England — will point to the Red Sox beating up on the Rangers, Orioles and Blue Jays. But taking care of business is how a team gets to the postseason.
Then we have Mr. McDonald. He is 8 for 24 with five runs scored, four extra-base hits, three walks and six RBI in the nine games since he showed up. The Sox are 7-2 in the D-Mac Era.
“That’s the key for me. I want to contribute. I’m not satisfied just being here. I want to help out and be ready when my name is called on,” McDonald said. “I’m just trying to stay consistent and get quality at-bats. Every time I’m up there I’m thinking about how many good swings I can get.”
The Sox get a day off on Thursday and will chill in Baltimore around the Inner Harbor. The Yankees will be at Camden Yards dealing with Brian Matusz later in the day.
There’s a chances the players from the two teams might cross paths at a restaurant around lunch time. Maybe it’ll serve as a little reminder to the Pinstripes that the Sox have weathered the storm.
The season has started again, only 140 games to go.