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Closing Time: Red Sox bats awaken in victory over Rangers

05.10.14 at 11:17 pm ET
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The Red Sox came within one out of suffering their first no-hitter in 21 years on Friday; they recorded just one out on Friday before ending any visions of a no-hitter. Indeed, the offense erupted early against Rangers starter Martin Perez, pounding out nine hits, walking four times and plating six runs in just 3 2/3 innings, jumpstarting an 8-3 win.

The Sox continued to dominate left-handed starters. The team is 9-4 in games started by southpaws, a .692 winning percentage that ranks as the second best in the American League. That production has undoubtedly been helped by the presence of right-handed hitters Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino (now batting exclusively from the right side) at the top of the order; whereas the team averaged 3.8 runs per game through its first 22 games, with Saturday’s explosion, the team is averaging 4.6  runs per game in 14 contests since Pedroia became the leadoff hitter with Victorino slotting behind him.

Those two played central roles in the Sox’ win on Saturday night. Pedroia was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a run and an RBI. Victorino went 3-for-4 with three singles and a sac fly while driving in four runs.

The Sox have struggled to achieve consistency, but they’ve certainly come closer to doing so offensively with those two working in tandem at the top of the lineup.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

David Ortiz assumed sole possession of fourth place on the Red Sox‘ all-time home run list by going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a double. With 380 career homers as a member of the Sox, Ortiz moved ahead of Dwight Evans. He’s behind only Ted Williams (521), Carl Yastrzemski (452) and Jim Rice (382) on the franchise career list.

Jon Lester delivered yet another powerful outing, permitting three runs on just four hits and three  walks in seven innings while punching out eight. He’s now struck out at least seven batters in each of his last five starts, the longest such streak of his career. Lester is punching out 10.7 batters per nine innings this year, the best strikeout rate of his career.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox continue to make outs on the bases at a puzzling rate. The team was caught stealing twice (with David Ross — possessor of two career steals in over 700 games — inexplicably getting gunned down at second base in the second inning and Dustin Pedroia getting nabbed on a busted hit-and-run in the sixth), leaving the Red Sox with 11 caught stealings this year, second most in the American League. Perhaps even more startling, the team has just a 50 percent success rate this year, easily the worst in the A.L. The team also ran into another out in the second inning when Jackie Bradley Jr., trying to score from second on a two-out single, was gunned down by Texas center fielder Leonys Martin. The Sox’ 15 outs on the bases are second in the majors.

Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-5 with a punchout, making him 0-for-12 with six strikeouts and one walk in his last three games. In the process, he’s seen his line drop to a season-low .252 with a .364 OBP and .336 slugging mark.

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