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Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 7: Home runs have become luxury item for this team

04.18.17 at 10:57 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts celebrate Betts' seventh inning home run. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts celebrate Betts’ seventh inning home run. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — Mookie Betts hit a home run in the seventh inning. It didn’t seem like he needed to.

Such is life with these Red Sox, with Tuesday night’s 8-7 win over the Blue Jays serving as the latest example. Against Marcus Stroman, who had been Toronto’s best starting pitcher, John Farrell’s team managed to kick the Jays’ ace to the curb after just 4 2/3 innings on the way to a 15-hit night. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox’ win, click here.)

“The home runs are coming,” said Hanley Ramirez while walking through the visitors clubhouse prior to the game. To repeat, they should be in no rush.

With Betts’ solo shot, the Red Sox now have a total of seven homers, the fewest in the majors. Yet here they sit at 9-5, having scored four or more runs in nine of their 14 games.

“I don’t know if it’s more cold-weather related or not. You look at the number of hits that we’ve compiled has been I think pretty high,” said Farrell before the game. “I will say this: We don’t as an organization preach home runs. We preach quality at-bats as best as possible. Put your best swing on pitches in areas you’re typically going to handle. In terms of trying to hit home runs, they’re going to come. If you look back to the way we hit last year, through the middle of April or middle of May even, we were probably in the bottom third of home runs hit and still scored runs. That’s a compliment to the type of hitters we have and the depth of our lineup overall.”

He’s right.

Through April last season, the Red Sox owned the most runs in the American League while having hit the third-fewest home runs in Major League Baseball (19).

And this time around, the Red Sox are sitting with the most hits in baseball. And coming into Tuesday, they had the second-best batting average with runners in scoring position (.328).

The win against the struggling Blue Jays might have offered the best definition of what the Red Sox’ offense has become. In the third inning, the Sox used four singles to score three runs and tie the game. Then, in the fifth, back-to-back doubles from Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland after a Betts single drove Stroman from the game, ultimately tagging the starter with six runs on 11 hits.

Maybe the most subtle, yet meaningful, hit of them all came from Pablo Sandoval after Toronto manager John Gibbons replaced Stroman with lefty Aaron Loup.

Sandoval, who had been 0-for-10 against southpaws coming into the at-bat, rifled a single back up the middle to score Moreland to cap the three-run sixth.

“I’ve been working hard with [hitting coaches] Victor Rodriguez and Chili Davis,” Sandoval said. “I’ve been putting in the work together to get in the right position and get my swing back the way I was swinging in spring training. That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s why I’ve been watching videos to compare swings that were working.”

Can the Red Sox keep living life without the long ball? That remains to be seen. The championship teams of 2004, ’07 and ’13 all had greater punch, hitting 25, 27 and 26 home runs, respectively, in April.

For now, even in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre, it’s working out just fine.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Brian Johnson picked up his first major league win, finding a way to navigate through five innings while throwing 97 pitches. The lefty allowed four runs on seven hits.

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