|Closing Time: Cook dazzles, top four explodes as Red Sox rout Rangers||08.06.12 at 9:58 pm ET|
Aaron Cook will not go down without a fight.
The right-hander’s rotation spot appeared to be in jeopardy given his recent struggles (he’d allowed 17 runs (15 earned) in 19 innings over his last three outings) and the excellent work of Franklin Morales as a starter on Sunday, a continuation of the left-hander’s strong perfomrance in that capacity in June and July. But on Monday night against a Rangers team that still numbers among the best in the game, he delivered one of his best outings of the year.
Cook tossed seven innings in which he permitted just one run on six hits (three singles, three doubles). He struck out two (matching a season high) and walked three (blowing past his previous high of one) and, after giving up six homers over those last three starts, he kept the ball in the yard against a deep Rangers lineup. He required just 98 pitches (59 strikes) to deliver perhaps his second best start of the year.
The Sox were able to ride that impressive performance to a 9-2 victory that returned the team to .500 at 55-55.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Aaron Cook recorded 15 outs via groundball in his seven innings of work. In games in which he has not allowed a homer, the Sox are now 4-0. The right-hander has five quality starts in his nine outings thus far. At the least, he reasserted himself as a legitimate (if somewhat inconsistent) rotation depth option. And, perhaps the outing will earn him at least another turn in the rotation going forward.
– For the first time all year, Dustin Pedroia had three extra-base hits in the game, matching a career-high with three doubles while going 3-for-4. It represented a contrast to the second baseman’s previous six games, in which he hit .167/.219/.267/.485.
– For the first time all year, Jacoby Ellsbury had multiple extra-base hits in the same game, slamming one off the Green Monster and shooting the other down the left field line as part of a 3-for-5 night. He now has three doubles in the last two games, matching the number of extra-base hits he had in 18 prior games.
– Carl Crawford is seemingly locked in. He ripped two doubles (one to right and one to left), drove a sac fly to deep center and lined out to the base of the scoreboard in left as part of a 2-for-4 night in which he drove in a pair. In his last 10 games, he’s hitting .351/.372/.725/1.097 with eight extra-base hits (three homers, four doubles, a triple) and 12 RBI.
– Adrian Gonzalez delivered three run-scoring singles, and he’s now hitting .418 with a 1.130 OPS with runners in scoring position.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk. His average dropped to .227 with a .771 OPS.
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