The Red Sox have often been known for their booming offense, and at times, for dominant pitching. But this year, defense has become a constant point of strength.
"There were times, especially a couple of years ago, when we were mixing and matching," said Francona, "And you kind of had to hope. Pick a day when this guy is pitching, and maybe you won't get exposed [at a certain position]. Right now, we send them out and expect to have a good, clean game. That's good."
An entirely new infield had a huge impact on the streak. Kevin Youkilis has been solid in his first year at first base. Mark Loretta has been steady at second. And two ex-Marlins, Alex Gonzalez at short and Mike Lowell at third, have come as advertised.
Gonzalez, in particular, has been a stud, making just one error all year.
"It feels very good, the defense has done well and the offense and the pitching. You try to do every little thing you can do," said Gonzalez. "This team is playing together, that's why we've played very well the last couple of weeks."
The Red Sox -- who fell, 5-2, to the Marlins -- saw their 12-game winning streak snapped the same night they set the defense record.
"I just don't get wrapped up in the error thing during the game," said Lowell. "Now that the game is over, I think it's a great team accomplishment that we've done, but I think if you give me an error and we win, I think I'd probably trade that right now for the record. I kind of liked that we had won 12 in a row, I'd rather have 13. But it's something that, I guess, it talks a lot about how good our defense is and how much we're excelling in that area."
David Ortiz, the star DH who is rarely called on to play defense, will start Saturday's game at first base. He wasn't interested in reveling in the streak.
"Pssstttt," said Ortiz. "Let's not talk about it."
But the fact is, a lot of people around baseball are now taking notice of those slick-fielding Red Sox.
"It's something to be proud of," said Youkilis. "It would have been nice if we won. That's what we do. We go out there, and we're a team that plays some defense. Guys take a lot of pride in using the glove and helping out the pitchers. That's what the general manager [Theo Epstein] and [our] front office tried to build this year. They set out to have a great defensive team. We've done that."