Walk-off win especially poignant for Pedroia: ‘It's nice getting back into it'


All eyes were on Rafael Devers as he rounded first with a walk-off single on Thursday, a chopper over a drawn-in Blue Jays infield that gave the Red Sox a desperately needed 7-6 victory.

As teammates mobbed Devers in short right field, a more significant celebration was taking place at home plate, where the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox let loose.

Dustin Pedroia was on deck when Devers won it, and that made him the first person to greet Eduardo Nunez with the winning run. Without dropping his bat, Pedroia thrust both arms over his head, pointed at Nunez as he came down the line, and then pointed at himself as if to say, "You're coming to me."

The two enthusiastically embraced, the joy on Pedroia's face palpable. This was what he had missed for the last year while rehabbing an ornery -- and existential -- knee injury that required an experimental surgery and sidelined him for all but three games of last season, as well as the first 11 of this one.

But on this night, the knee felt great, and so did winning.

"It was fun," Pedroia said. "It's nice getting back into it. It was a nice win for us."

More than a year after undergoing cartilage restoration surgery, Pedroia played a role in Thursday's win. He went 1 for 4 with a crucial RBI, his single up the first base line plating the third run of a three-run third after the Red Sox had fallen behind 5-0.

"I know I've been out a long time, and I don't know if being locked in last year to every pitch helped me out, but I still feel like I didn't miss any time," he said. "My at-bats feel good, so it's just the more I play, the better it's going to be."

He also lined out to deep center as his pull stroke returns. He's 2-for-8 with a pair of singles since rejoining the team for Tuesday's home opener.

"It's just getting back into it," he said. "The guys got a jumpstart on me for a couple of weeks, so the more pitches I see, I'll start moving it over (to left). My last at-bat, I hit the ball good to center, so it's starting to go over."

Pedroia also contributed defensively, turning a pair of tough double plays in the face of takeout slides to complete the first and second innings, and nearly turning another one on the 5-4-3 in the third.

"That's my job," he said. "If we've got an opportunity to get an extra out, we've got to do it."

Manager Alex Cora saluted Pedroia's efforts, while also acknowledging that keeping him healthy all season will require constant monitoring and tinkering.

"I mean, turning the double play, he learned a lot in 2006, 2007 about turning double plays," joked Cora, Pedroia's former teammate. "I'm glad he still remembers. That's what he brings. He's a plus defender. He was all over the place today. Offensively, he hits that ball the other way. He's moving well. That's a good thing. At the same time, just like Mitch (Moreland) and everybody else, we have to be careful. There was a lot of action today, which is great. We'll see (Friday) how he reacts to it."

When it was over, Pedroia could be heard bleep-talking his teammates in the shower with a non-stop stream of invective that is his stock in trade when he's feeling good.

For one night, anyway, Pedroia was back and loving it.

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