That crucial base on balls, that elusive hit with runners in scoring position, and yes, the ever-popular long ball returned to the Sox box score last night in a come from behind win against the Rockies that ran the AL Central leader's home winning streak to 9 games.
On the road, the Sox seem strangely incapable of coming from behind or manufacturing rallies with patient at bats and strategic singles. So with the ball flying out of the Cell like mad, the Sox go-ahead 7th inning rally was all the more impressive in its lack of homers.
The key at bats, besides the run-scoring hits by Juan Uribe (I have to admit I was grimacing when I saw him walk up to the dish with the bases loaded, but he came through!) and AJ Pierzynski, were the walks to Nick Swisher and Joe Crede.
With the Sox trailing by two, Swisher and Crede may have both felt compelled to drive in Jermaine Dye, who led off the inning with a single, all by themselves with from-the-heels swings. That probably would have resulted in a double play ground out or a trademark pop out.
But Swisher worked Jeff Francis over for a walk, and Crede greeted reliever Matt Herges with a base on balls as well to get the team into a real run-scoring situation, where they calmy capitalized.
The Sox got into the longball game as well, with solo shots by Orlando Cabrera, now on a 12-game hitting streak, and Brian Anderson earlier in the game. But they were content to score late inning runs without the big fly.
Simply, the Sox just look more comfortable at home-knowing they can overcome a 2-run deficit without panicking. (It also helps when you're playing the Rockies, who own the second-worst road record in baseball).
Gavin Floyd turned in his first non-quality start in a while. He allowed only 4 hits, in keeping with his low BAA. Trouble was, all those hits left the yard. Hey, you wanted the hot summer weather, Sox fans-the warmer the weather the more homers Floyd is going to give up on mistake pitches. Be careful what you wish for!
Surrendering four homers is never good, by Floyd minimized the damage by not putting any runners on ahead of the blasts. Four solo shots is manageable, four three-run shots is insurmountable. He did walk 3 through his 6.1 innings, but none of them preceded a hit.
Floyd kept his team in the game, and the Sox hitters responded with a disciplined rally to win the game.
That's winning baseball, home or road.