Three things we learned about the Red Sox in Game 1

Three things we learned about the Red Sox in Game 1
July 5, 2014, 7:00 pm
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BOSTON -- Three things we learned from the Red Sox's walk-off 3-2 win over the Orioles in Game 1 of their doubleheader on Saturday . . .

1) Not only is Jon Lester not allowing contract negotiations to become a distraction, he's thriving as they grab headlines.

Lester is having perhaps his most consistent season at the perfect time. While his record sits at a relatively pedestrian 9-7, he's top 10 in the American League in several categories including ERA (seventh), WHIP (tenth), strikeouts (seventh) and innings (fourth).

One would have to imagine that every start this season, which manager John Farrell called Lester's best of his career, is earning Lester a bigger free-agent deal. The 6-foot-4 lefty told reporters after Saturday's game that "both sides are happy not talking right now."

Now the question is: When will they re-engage?

It appears that the longer it takes for the two sides to meet in the middle, the more likely it is that Lester tests the open market. Every time he takes the mound, he only ups his value.

2) The Red Sox can still pinch hit.

One of the more underrated aspects of Boston's World Series championship roster last season was that it had perhaps the best pinch-hitting combination in baseball in righty Jonny Gomes and lefty Mike Carp. They were ready options in the late innings of several close games last season, their repeatable swings and abilities to be prepared at the drop of a hat serving the team well.

Those dramatic pinch-hit opportunities have seemed fewer and farther between this year, but Saturday's win shed light on a strange point: While the Red Sox roster has been at times offensively punchless -- especially lately -- it is deep.

The team has a plethora of veteran options from both sides of the plate to which the Sox can turn when they need a hit in the ninth.

Jonny Gomes and Jonathan Herrera proved that on Saturday when the pinch-hitting Gomes led off the bottom of the last inning with an infield single, and the pinch-hitting Herrera drove him home with a bloop.

Daniel Nava, who has seen erratic playing time as the team's outfield has become more crowded, will be available to hit late in the games he doesn't start. And when Carp returns from his rehab assignment with Pawtucket, he'll only provide further depth.

3) Xander Bogaerts could use a break.

Despite two days off since their last game -- a period of rest that both Farrell and his players admitted was much-needed -- the Red Sox's stud rookie still looked lost on Saturday.

Bogaerts went 0-for-4 and struck out three times, all on sliders. His error in the third inning allowed Baltimore's only two runs of the day to score.

He's now in a 2-for-50 slump. He hasn't recorded a hit in his last seven games, and in that time he's reached base just once.

Perhaps in an effort to get him to clear his head, Bogaerts will not start in the second game of the doubleheader. Instead, Brock Holt will man third.

Farrell insisted earlier this week that the organization had not considered the idea of sending Bogaerts back to Triple-A Pawtucket to solve his offensive woes.