Three things we learned from the Red Sox Wednesday night

Three things we learned from the Red Sox Wednesday night
July 10, 2014, 11:15 am
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BOSTON - Three things we learned from the Red Sox's 5-4 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park:

1) Having A.J. Pierzynski designated for assignment wasn't exactly a devastating blow to the Red Sox clubhouse.

Pierzynski arrived last spring as a man with a reputation as someone who gets on your nerves and it doesn't seem as though that was entirely unearned.

There were no major blowouts or issues - at least none that came to light -- between Pierzynski and his teammates. But there was a sense that in just more than three months, he didn't necessarily endear himself to the rest of the team.

Pierzynski seemed very much a clubhouse interloper, without a lot of close friends. He minded his own business and went about his work without a lot of interaction with others.

Throughout Wednesday, there were a number of comments that could have been interpreted as subtle shots at the departed veteran catcher. David Ross seemed to go out of his way to point out that Christian Vazquez was "all about winning,'' in his comments to reporters -- as if a rookie making his major league debut would be thinking about anything else.

After the Red Sox' walk-off win, Farrell praised the play of Vazquez behind the plate, specifically noting that the young catcher had done a fine job "framing pitches in the bottom of the strike zone.'' It was hard not to interpret that as a subtle dig at Pierzynski, who was poor at that particular skill, much to the pitchers' displeasure.

In short, you didn't get the sense that the remaining players threw a party in Pierzynski's absence. Still, they were hardly in mourning over his release, either.

2) The atmosphere changed inside the ballpark

In past weeks, there was a sense of frustration inside Fenway -- not surprising given the team's struggles to score runs and propensity for losing close games.

When runners were stranded or innings fizzled, groans would fill the ballpark.

Last night, as Chris Sale silenced the Red Sox for seven innings, that restlessness wasn't evident.

Perhaps that can be chalked up to the crowd recognizing that a lineup with five rookies matched against a front-line starter such as Sale was a mistmatch and expectations needed to be kept in check.

And, when the team began to put together a comeback in the eighth, Fenway came alive. The ballpark roared in appreciation when Mookie Betts turned a 70-foot roller into a hustle double and remained engaged as the Sox clawed back from a 4-0 deficit.

It will be interesting to see how long that patience remains. Fans are going to be paying high ticket prices to see an inexperienced team, one that's bound to make its share of mistakes.

But Wednesday had the feel of a new beginning, as though the fan base had shrugged and said: "Well, let's see what the kids can do...''

3) Regardless of his difficulty at the plate, Jackie Bradley Jr. deserves consideration for a Gold Glove.

Bradley had an 0-for-4 night at the plate, though he hit the ball hard a few times and saw his average sink back down to .214.

But his Superman-type grab in right-center, fully extending himself to rob Tyler Flowers of extra-bases, was an absolute thing of beauty.

Use any defensive metrics that you wish, but the eye test suggests that Bradley is playing center at least as well as anyone in the league. And his arm has already registered 10 assists, with a handful of other near-misses on throws to the bases or home plate.

Too often, Gold Glove votes get awarded on the basis of overall play and those who post gaudy offensive numbers attract notice and get their defense recognized, too. It's why Derek Jeter, an average shortstop most years, has won a number of Gold Gloves despite having poor range.

It's too soon to say whether Bradley will hit enough to warrant being an everyday player down the line. But as long as he remains in the lineup, his defensive excellence should be properly recognized.