Closing Time: Red Sox offense explodes in blowout road win over Blue Jays
|07.21.14 at 9:53 pm ET|
Throughout the Red Sox‘ offensive struggles in June, GM Ben Cherington maintained consistently that the team expected that improvement would come not from a trade but primarily from a return to form by members of the team’s lineup. That notion has been borne out in recent games, most dramatically on Monday night.
The Red Sox unloaded on the Blue Jays for a season-high in runs, cruising to a 14-1 victory. The team has now scored 83 runs in 16 games in July (5.2 per game) — nearly matching the team’s total of 84 runs in 28 games (3.0 per contest) in June. The team mashed four home runs, and seven members of the lineup had multiple hits, as the Sox won for the eighth time in nine games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– David Ortiz said on Sunday, after going 1-for-13 in a three-game series against the Royals, that he was “about to get hotter than Jamaica in the middle of August.” According to this random website, the average temperature of Jamaica in August is 88.5 degrees. Ortiz seemed to at least equal that reading on the thermometer on Monday, when he launched a pair of two-run homers, his first two-homer game of the year against any team except the Twins. The 452nd and 453rd home runs of Ortiz’s career allowed him to surpass Carl Yastrzemski. His 42 multi-homer games since joining the Red Sox in 2003 are the most by any hitter except Albert Pujols in that time.
– As much as the Sox’ absence of middle-of-the-order hitters has become a talking point, Mike Napoli has been doing everything in his power to force a reconsideration of that notion. Napoli went 3-for-5 with a homer and double, improving for the year to .280/.398/.462.
– Stephen Drew has a history of strong second halves. He entered Monday with a career .250/.314/.405 line in the first half and a .272/.339/.457 line in the second half. Last year with the Sox, he hit .233/.313/.409 prior to the All-Star break and .276/.356/.481 after it.
So, perhaps it should come as little surprise that he appears once again to be heating up and leaving behind the rust that accompanied his delayed start of the season. Drew went 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk, improving his season line to .175/.254/.320 — up from .136/.167/.247.
He has a streak of seven straight starts with a walk, a good indicator of his improved approach at the plate after he walked just three times in his first 23 games. In that time, he’s hit .318/.500/.591.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. remained on a torrid pace in July. He went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI doubles, and is now up to .378 with an .896 OPS in July.
– Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5, with singles to left, right and center. The three hits matched a career high (previously achieved five times this season), and marked the first time he’d collected three hits in a game since May 31.
– Amidst the offensive explosion, John Lackey dominated, allowing just two baserunners (both on doubles) while walking none and striking out three in seven innings. He employed just 76 pitches, elicited strikes on 58 of them (76 percent). His outing marked just the 10th time this decade that a Sox starter logged at least seven innings while averaging 11 pitches or fewer.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-4, the only member of the Red Sox starting lineup who did not collect a hit. That said, even Pedroia had a positive event in the game — chiefly in the form of enjoying the final four innings of the blowout from the bench.
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