BOSTON -- The clock has already begun for Carl Crawford, and is about to kick in for Jacoby Ellsbury, who is scheduled to join Crawford Friday in Fort Myers on rehab assignments that should put both players back in the big leagues after the All-Star break.
Good news for the Red Sox? Of course. But oh, the good times wrought by the guys who wouldn't have even been here without the injuries that have sidelined the two All-Stars for most of the season.
Guys like Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava, who both pinch hit Tuesday night and scored the go-ahead runs in a three-run seventh-inning rally that started the Sox to a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays, their eighth victory in 10 games and first in the post-Youk era.
With managers John Farrell of the Jays and Bobby Valentine of the Sox playing point/counterpoint, Kalish crossed up Farrell's strategy of bringing in a lefty reliever, Luis Perez, by doubling down the right-field line. Farrell made another change, bringing in righty David Pauley, the former Sox farmhand, and Valentine sent up switch-hitter Nava to bat for newcomer Brent Lillibridge. Nava was hit a pitch, Mike Aviles walked to load the bases, and Dustin Pedroia grounded a two-run single to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.
Enough of the thumb: Pedroia is now 7-for-14 (.500) in his last four games. Or is less of the beard? Pedroia's rediscovered swing has come since he went clean-shaven.
Daisuke Matsuzaka didn't get the win, but pitched creditably, allowing just a run on six hits before Valentine lifted him with two on and two out in the sixth.
More stellar work by the bullpen followed, Scott Atchison rescuing Matsuzaka from his jam, Andrew Miller striking out Colby Rasmus to strand Adam Lind at third in the seventh, and Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves combining to set down the last six Jays in order.