video thumbnail

BOS@LAA: Webster whiffs three over 6 2/3 innings

ANAHEIM -- Allen Webster knew that to have a chance at a win Friday night, he'd need to match Angels ace Jered Weaver pitch for pitch. The Red Sox's No. 5 prospect did that and more in a 4-2 victory at Angel Stadium.

The Boston right-hander tossed a career-high 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks for his second win of the season.

It was a far cry from last Saturday's start against the Yankees, in which Webster lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and six walks for the loss.

"He was much more under control and showed the ability to make adjustments more readily than the last time out. I also thought Christian [Vazquez] did a great job with him behind the plate," manager John Farrell said. "A number of times he would double up on the breaking ball when he'd miss with the first one. The feel by Christian and their work together tonight was so efficient."

Webster was able to settle in thanks to some early run support. The Red Sox put runners on the corners with one out in the third inning after a double by Vazquez and a single by Brock Holt. Dustin Pedroia then quickly poked a single into left field to put Boston on the board.

However, Webster was quick to give a few back in the bottom half of the frame. Leadoff batter Efren Navarro walked on four straight pitches and then Chris Iannetta hit a double down the left-field line, which was misplayed by Yoenis Cespedes and allowed Navarro to score. It marked Cespedes' first error of the season.

The other run came on a deep fly ball to center field off the bat of Mike Trout, making it a 3-2 game.

The third inning in his last start against the Yankees is when things went south. Webster said it was difficult not to think about that when the inning started off poorly Friday night.

"I stepped off, got back in it and Vazquez did good about making sure I got extended and out in front of the ball," Webster said. "It just made me get back into line.

"My fastball command was the biggest difference between starts. I just started going after batters. After every pitch, I just told myself to keep going after batters and trust my stuff and let my defense work."

The heart of the lineup was able to tack on a few more runs when cleanup hitter Cespedes belted a two-run double just inside the left-field line, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead.

The right-hander's slider was also another important pitch. He showcased that more against the Angels because of their right-handed heavy lineup.

"It worked very well tonight, so we decided to go with it more," Vazquez said. "He had good command of every pitch and was able to attack the hitters because he got ahead of most of them."

After the Angels came within a run, Mike Napoli made sure things didn't stay that way for too long. With two out in the fifth inning, the first baseman teed off on a 88-mph first-pitch fastball that landed right over the 390-foot sign in left-center field.

While Napoli may have swung early in the count on his solo home run, the Red Sox remained patient against Weaver the entire night. The team's approach had Weaver at 100 pitches through just five innings. In comparison, Webster tossed just 62 pitches through five frames.

While Webster could have gone longer, tossing just 84 pitches, Farrell chose to go to the bullpen. Things went smoothly until the bottom of the ninth, when closer Koji Uehara came in for the save. Jackie Bradley Jr., who came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning, made an unbelievable snow-cone grab up against the wall in center field to get the first out of the inning. Had Bradley not made that leaping grab on a ball hit by Howie Kendrick, the whole complexion of the inning would have changed.

"It's a great play. He made two really good plays and you can see why he's a legitimate center fielder," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The ball with Howie, that's probably as much or as quickly that you're going to see a center fielder close distance at any level. That was incredible."

While Uehara didn't have his best stuff, he struck out Kole Calhoun with runners on first and third to end the game and secure a win for Webster in what was the best start of his young Major League career.

"There is no denying his potential, you see it every time you put the ball in his hand," Farrell said. "It is a matter of performance and executing and he did it tonight."

MLB.com Comments