BOSTON - In the first inning, there was the runner left stranded at third. In the second, despite scoring two runs, one more baserunner was left at second. In the fifth, the Sox loaded the bases with no out and came away with nothing.
The Red Sox had seen this movie before, the one where they can't seem to buy a hit with runners in scoring position. It cost them two games Thursday in the doubleheader sweep by Tampa Bay, and Friday night, it looked like it might happen again.
Until Dustin Pedroia took over, that is.
Pedroia cranked a ball into the Monster Seats in the sixth inning for a grand slam -- his first homer of the season and 100th of his career -- which represented the big blow in the Red Sox' 7-1 victory over the Oakland A's.
"I was honestly just trying to drive one run in,'' said Pedroia. "As a team, we've been scuffling a little bit with guys on. I kept my weight back, which is nice. I haven't been doing that lately. I hit it kind of off the end (of the bat), but I backspun so it was able to get over the Monster.''
During the team's home opener in the first week of April, Pedroia suffered a wrist injury which resulted in some inflammation, and eventually, a cortisone shot.
Now that the wrist is healed -- and his thumb ligament surgically repaired over the winter -- he's healthy again and can swing the way he's accustomed.
"I'm still trying to make adjustments every day, trying to get better,'' he said. "I had to make a lot of adjustments last year with my thumb, so I'm still trying to get back to swinging hard like I normally do.''
After injuring his thumb in the regular season opener in 2013, Pedroia was constantly making adjustments last season. Now, he doesn't have to compensate as much at the plate.
"I think you see some aggressiveness on pitches up in the strike zone,'' said John Farrell of the change he's noticed in Pedroia since the wrist has improved. "There's been a few more doubles to the pull side and more than anything, there's peace of mind knowing that everything is structurally sound and there no issues (with the wrist). I think he's in a pretty good place as far as swinging the bat goes.''
"I was just trying to find a way to compete every night,'' he shrugged about last year. "Obviously, it wasn't what I normally do. But I got it fixed and you get your strength back and you try to find ways to get back
and remember what type of player you are. I'm letting the ball travel and it comes to me, that's where I'm strong. I'm trying to get back to that.
"A part of it my follow-through. I watched the video of the home run and it was my normal follow-through, so that's when I can create and generate bat speed and back-spin the balls. It's coming.''
The homer put him in some exclusive company, making him just the second player in franchise history to reach 100 homers and 100 steals. Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski is the other.
"That's weird, man, that's crazy,'' said Pedroia of the achievement. "I'm not much of a power hitter. But I guess if you play long enough....I guess I'm getting old. Just having your name anywhere said with his is an accomplishment.''