|Closing Time: It’s a big 10-4 for Red Sox in win over Brewers||06.17.11 at 10:19 pm ET|
After five innings of Friday’s series opener between the Red Sox and Brewers, it looked like it would once again be The Adrian Gonzalez Show at Fenway Park. The Red Sox first baseman had just driven a ball into the first row of Monster seats to give the home team a 5-4 lead. The home run was Gonzalez’s third hit in three at-bats and had placed the powerful lefty just a single shy of the cycle with four innings still left to be played.
Then, the rest of the Red Sox offense decided to jump in on the fun.
The Sox offense added five more runs in the remaining innings and rode a strong finish by starter John Lackey to a 10-4 victory, the team’s 12th in its last 13 games. Every Boston batter who stepped into the box, including two substitutes, either reached base or drove in a run. (Both occurred in the cases of eight of the 10 players to see action.)
Here’s what else went right and one measly thing that went wrong in the Red Sox win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
–The biggest reason behind the Red Sox late surge in runs came not in the late innings but actually in the first. Although he allowed only two runs in the frame, Milwaukee starter Shawn Marcum, who had held this current set of Sox hitters to just a .194 career average before Friday, was taken out with a left hip flexor strain after throwing an astounding 44 pitches just to get three outs. As unfortunate as the injury was for Marcum and the Brewers, it allowed the Red Sox to get to relievers Marco Estrada and Daniel Herrera earlier than they would have and stretch the two relievers out enough to the point where they could score three and four runs on them respectively.
–David Ortiz didn’t care much for Tropicana Field as he went a combined 0-for-8 down over the Sox three-game series in Tampa Bay. But he sure looked a lot more comfortable on his return home to Fenway, going 3-for-5 in Friday’s winning effort. That ties the DH’s season-high for hits and improves his home batting average to .353 on the season.–Jason Varitek rewarded Terry Francona for giving him the start for just the second time this season when Lackey has taken the mound. While hitting from the right side, Varitek smacked a wall-ball RBI double off the Green Monster in the sixth to give the Sox a 6-4 lead. It’s hard to think that at one point – May 10 to be exact – the Boston captain was hitting as little as .154 with only 2 RBI and no home runs. In his 15 games played since that day, Varitek is hitting .313 with three homers and 12 RBI.
–Dustin Pedroia proved why he may be the Red Sox best individual fielder Friday night. In the third inning of a 4-3 ballgame with the bases loaded and no outs, the former Gold Glover made a lunging glove save on a hard bouncer off the bat of Casey McGehee to start a big 4-6-3 double play given the circumstances. In the next inning, he showed his range and arm by sprinting toward the bag at second to snag a Jonathan Lucroy grounder and throw out the Brewers catcher with his momentum taking him in the direction of left field.
–Drew Sutton picked up right where left off offensively in the majors. On the same day he replaced Jed Lowrie on the 25-man roster, Sutton went 2-for-3 as a hot corner substitute to raise his average in the majors to .324.
–As for the pitching side of things, starter John Lackey struggled in the early going after allowing four earned runs over the first three innings. But from that point on, he was nothing short of masterful. From innings four to eight, he retired 13 straight batters before allowing a base hit to Nyjer Morgan in the eighth. He finished with a line of 8 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 5 K, 0 BB but if he can continue pitching like he did in the latter innings, he’ll begin to quiet some of his biggest doubters.
WHAT WENT WRONG
–As if the Red Sox needed more injury news. Carl Crawford left the game early after pulling up lame on an infield single in the first inning and had to be replaced by Darnell McDonald the rest of the way. The injury was later called a left hamstring strain. Kevin Youkilis also bowed out prematurely due to a stomach illness.
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