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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz makes case for Red Sox not to trade him in win over Blue Jays 06.29.15 at 9:37 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz dominated the Blue Jays on Monday. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz dominated the Blue Jays on Monday. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Trade Clay Buchholz? Not the way he’s pitching right now.

Clay Buchholz earned the Opening Day start for the Red Sox, and then endured some of the same ups and downs to afflict the rest of the rotation. Unlike starters such as Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly (and Wade Miley and Justin Masterson, for that matter), Buchholz has clearly righted the ship.

Needing a big outing from their best starter to open an all-important four-game series in Toronto, the Red Sox got one on Monday night. Buchholz dominated one of baseball’s best offenses en route to a 3-1 victory.

“He’s been on a really strong run through the entire month, and tonight tops off the month that he’s had,” said manager John Farrell. “Eight very strong innings for us. On a night we needed a starter to go deep, he provided it. But he was outstanding. He threw four pitches for strikes. He threw some quality two-seamers in to their big right-handers to keep them honest. It was a constant mix, staying out of the middle of the plate. He was outstanding tonight.”

This one was all Buchholz, who lowered his team-leading ERA to 3.48 while improving to 6-6. He scattered five hits over eight innings, efficiently dispatching the Jays on just 96 pitches to give the Red Sox their seventh victory in 11 games.

The timing couldn’t have been better from a personal standpoint as well. Buchholz’s name is share to come up in trade rumors next month, one year after Jon Lester and John Lackey got shipped out at the trade deadline.

“I never even thought of that,” Buchholz said. “I don’€™t know. It is what it is. I understand the business side of it. But like I said before, this is the only place I’€™ve ever been, but I’€™d like to be here as long as I can. That’€™s my job. If they’€™ve got to make decisions, I’€™ve got to make it tough on them. First start in the big leagues to now.”

Buchholz struck out Jose Reyes and Josh Donaldson leading off the game to set the tone, and then got some help from his defense in the second when left fielder Alejandro De Aza chased down a Kevin Pillar double and fired to relay man Xander Bogaerts, who threw behind Russell Martin at third, which led to third baseman Pablo Sandoval winning the footrace and chasing down Martin from behind to apply the inning-ending tag.

“It was a huge pickoff for us,” Buchholz said. “I pitched against him for the last six or seven years on different teams and know what kind of player he is. He’€™s got pop, he can hit homers if you just lay one in there. He can run, plays the outfield as good as anybody, and is a threat on the bags, just all around player.”

The Red Sox gave Buchholz all the offense he would need in the top of the third when Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt sandwiched walks around a Mookie Betts single. The Red Sox have consistently found ways not to score in such situations, but this time Bogaerts delivered, plating two runs with a double.

It’s a good thing he did, too, because the next three hitters popped up, but Buchholz had all the support he’d need.

The Red Sox added an insurance run in the fifth when Betts led off with a triple and scored on a Holt single.

The Blue Jays rarely threatened from there, with Sandoval starting a key 5-4-3 double play to end the seventh and keep Buchholz’s pitch count manageable enough to pitch the eighth.

Closer Koji Uehara then closed things out in the ninth for his third save of the road trip, making a winner of a pitcher the Red Sox need more than ever.

“[Buchholz] had a couple of bumps early in the year, but he’s been very consistent — a guy that you know is going to give you six, seven or possibly more on a night that he starts,” Farrell said. “He’s doing that for us. It allows you to be a little bit more aggressive with a bullpen the day before he starts. That’s comforting when you’ve got that kind of guy pitching as an upper end of a rotation guy.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME: This one’s not even a question. Clay Buchholz continued an outstanding run with one of his best outings of the season, silencing the Jays over eight five-hit innings.

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Read More: Brock Holt, Clay Buchholz, mookie betts, xander bogaerts
Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview at 8:52 am ET
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The Red Sox will travel to Toronto for four games to take on the Blue Jays, who lead all of baseball in runs scored.  (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

The Red Sox will travel to Toronto for four games to take on the Blue Jays, who lead all of baseball in runs scored. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

To conclude a very division-heavy slate of games, the Red Sox will finish up their week-long road trip with a four-game series at Rogers Centre in Toronto to take on the Blue Jays. Previously the only other team in the basement of the AL East, the Jays, though still in fourth, are five games over .500 and just a half-game out of the wild card slot. Now the only team in the division with a sub-.500 ERA, the Sox will be put to the test against a team that, for a stretch of time, just wasn’t losing.

The Blue Jays have lost just seven games in the month of June, which for them has included an 11-game winning streak that contained a sweep of the Red Sox. However, Boston has the best team batting average this month (.281), the most hits in the American League (253), the most doubles of any team in the majors (56), the fourth-highest on-base percentage (.331), the fifth-best slugging percentage (.445) and the third-most extra-base hits (89). After scoring just 2.83 runs per game in May, the Sox have averaged 4.58 per contest in June.

“More than anything, it’s just the relaxation in the batter’s box by every guy that walks to the plate,” manager John Farrell said after a 13-2 win over the Royals on June 21. “You see a lot of close pitches being taken, we’re not expanding the strike zone.

“The ability to build the inning is becoming more evident,” he added.

The Jays also have had offensive success recently, putting up the most runs of any team in the league this month (152), the third-most home runs (37), the most RBIs (147), the second-most walks (85), the fourth-fewest strikeouts (171), the second-best on-base percentage (.339) and the third-best slugging percentage (.460).

Toronto’s pitching has been reliable as well, posting a 3.23 ERA over the last 25 games as a staff and allowing the eighth-fewest earned runs this month in the league, fifth-fewest in the American League alone. Blue Jays pitching has the fourth-best team WHIP this month at 1.18 and is holding opposing batters to a third-best .239 AVG. So while the Red Sox don’t seem to consistently get support from both sides of the ball, as their team ERA in June is 23rd overall despite their offensive success, the Blue Jays do.

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Read More: Alejandro De Aza, dioner navarro, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson
Closing Time: Eduardo Rodriguez implodes spectacularly in 8-6 loss to Orioles 06.25.15 at 4:42 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley can only watch Matt Wieters' two-run homer on Thursday. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Jackie Bradley can only watch Matt Wieters’ two-run homer on Thursday. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

For one afternoon, anyway, the Red Sox could add Eduardo Rodriguez to their list of problems.

The rookie left-hander, so good en route to a 3-1 start, encountered his second speed bump of the season on Thursday against the Orioles.

Perfect into the fourth, Rodriguez promptly imploded, allowing six runs on seven hits before being yanked with two outs. The Red Sox did their best to climb out of the hole, but without Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, their efforts came up just short in an 8-6 loss.

Rodriguez was the story of this one. He blew the Orioles away with fastballs over the first three innings, striking out five. But after allowing a one-out double to Chris Parmalee in the fourth, Rodriguez threw away a Nolan Reimold dribbler, opening the floodgates.

The Orioles followed with five more hits and a sacrifice fly before Rodriguez’s afternoon came to an abrupt end. Catcher Matt Wieters struck the big blow, ripping a two-run homer into the bullpen. J.J. Hardy’s two-run double then blew things open.

Orioles hitters clearly found the range on Rodriguez’s fastball in the fourth, sitting on his heater, and the rookie failed to adjust.

On the same day the Red Sox shipped inconsistent right-hander Joe Kelly to Triple-A Pawtucket, Rodriguez was expected to follow a strong outing from Clay Buchholz with one of his own. Instead, he provided a follow-up to his recent bad start against the Blue Jays, when he suffered a similar fourth inning meltdown. In that one, the Jays struck for five hits and six runs, including a Ryan Goins home run. This one was worse, with every Orioles hit except Reimold’s well-struck.

The Red Sox tried to make a game of it anyway, answering with an Alejandro De Aza three-run homer in the fourth and adding two more in the seventh, though they got no closer.

The Red Sox began the game by placing Pedroia on the disabled list (hamstring) and with Ramirez (hand) on the bench.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Orioles catcher Matt Wieters turned on a Rodriguez offering for a two-run homer that broke a 1-1 tie. He also added a single.

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Read More: eduardo rodriguez, mike napoli, xander bogaerts,
Closing Time: Red Sox lose seventh straight as Braves pick up 4-2 win over Sox 06.15.15 at 10:05 pm ET
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The Red Sox lost their seventh straight game Monday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Red Sox lost their seventh straight game Monday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Are there anymore adjectives to describe the 2015 Red Sox?

Following yet another team meeting before the game, the Red Sox managed just two runs against the Braves, as they fell 4-2 Monday night at a damp Fenway Park. It was the team’s seventh straight loss.

The Braves scored three times in the fourth inning against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. Atlanta started the inning off with three straight singles scoring one run, before adding another on a wild pitch and their third on an A.J. Pierzynski RBI single that got past the dive of Mike Napoli at first base.

They added another in the seventh when they loaded the bases against Porcello before Robbie Ross Jr. entered and allowed an RBI single to Jace Peterson, making it a 4-0 game. Ross got a double play on the next batter to escape any further damage.

“They bunched some singles together,” manager John Farrell said. “There was a curveball that checks up right behind the plate that eludes Leon for another run. Not really any hard hit balls, just base hits they were able to bunch up.”

Porcello lost his fifth straight straight start, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out five. His last win came on May 16. He didn’t pitch bad, it was just a 29-pitch fourth inning that did him in.

“I’m mad that I felt good,” Porcello said. “I ended up loading the bases with one out. I mean,  that’s not good. In any situation you have bases loaded with one out it’s a tough situation to get out of. I was pissed off that we were in that spot to begin with.”

Ross pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings of relief, before Alexi Ogando recorded all three outs in the ninth after Ross allowed a leadoff single.

The Red Sox offense was shutout out by starter-turned-reliever Williams Perez, as the right-hander went six innings, not allowing a run on five hits. They scored their lone run in the seventh inning on a Xander Bogaerts homer to dead-center field off reliever Dana Eveland.

They scored a run in the ninth off closer Jason Grilli on an RBI single by Mookie Betts.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Perez. Six shutout innings against a desperate Red Sox team was more than enough to give the Braves the win. He’s 3-0 on the year. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here’s what went (wrong) and right in the Red Sox loss:

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Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, rick porcello, xander bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts: ‘No one expected us to be in this situation, but that’s a reality right now’ 06.14.15 at 7:15 pm ET
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The Red Sox are a season-high 10 games below .500. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

The Red Sox are a season-high 10 games below .500. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Coming into the 2015 season, after the Red Sox went out and added Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to bolster their weak 2014 offense and also acquired adequate starting pitchers in the offseason, the good vibes and strong expectations were there to open the year.

And yet, that hasn’t carried over into the actual games as the Red Sox are currently 10 games under .500 at 27-37 and are a season-high eight games out of first place in the AL East. As a comparison, through 64 games last year, a season in which the Red Sox finished last in the AL East, they were 29-35.

“No one expected us to be in this situation, but that’s a reality right now,” Xander Bogaerts said after Sunday’s 13-5 loss to the Blue Jays — a weekend sweep at home.

The toughest thing for Bogaerts and the team is they cannot execute the little things within games to catch a break or two.

In the first inning the Red Sox loaded the bases against Jays starter Marcus Estrada and Bogaerts stepped to the plate with one out. He lined a shot right at third baseman Josh Donaldson who was able to easily double off Hanley Ramirez at second base.

“What to do? I mean, I put a good swing on it and it goes right to the third baseman,” Bogaerts said. “Obviously, it’s definitely frustrating because we could have got on the board right there.”

While manager John Farrell maintains the effort is there, it’s the mental side of things that is coming back to hurt the team, as evident by Ramirez getting doubled off to end the first inning threat.

“That has got to be through some anticipation of the given play,” Farrell said. “We get doubled off in a bases loaded situation in the first inning. Head high line drive, you’re schooled to fight back and do what you can to get back safety. That didn’t happen. When you monitor the preparation, you monitor the at-bats inside of a given game, I don’t see at-bats being given away. I don’t see us dogging it in any way. Things aren’t going our way I know that.”

The mental miscues continued in the fourth and fifth innings when the Blue Jays plated a total of 10 runs. In particular, in the fifth inning there were two outs when Chris Colabello lofted a fly ball into shallow right-center where four Red Sox players converged and Bogaerts settled under it. But, having a better angle and coming in, De Aza called him off, but couldn’t get there in time and the ball dropped in, extending the inning, which the Blue Jays ultimately scored four times.

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Read More: John Farrell, xander bogaerts,
Red Sox pregame notes: How long will Xander Bogaerts hit third?; Craig Breslow on paternity leave 06.12.15 at 5:42 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

For the first time in his major league career, Xander Bogaerts got to the park and saw his name penciled in as the Red Sox‘ No. 3 hitter.

With Hanley Ramirez getting a day off dealing with a left hamstring issue from Thursday and fouling a pitch off his knee Tuesday, Bogaerts will take his place in the batting order.

Bogaerts is currently on a seven-game hit streak, but manager John Farrell said Ramirez is the team’s No. 3 hitter.

“Hanley is probably our three hole hitter, for the time being,” he said. “But, [Bogaerts] has been swinging the bat well, he’s had a number of quality at-bats for a period of time now. With Hanley out, Bogey I think the obvious choice to settled into that spot. Where we go going forward when we have a full complement of players, Bogey has been in the middle of a lot of our scoring opportunities.”

Bogaerts hasn’t hit higher than fifth in the order this season. Currently he’s batting .295, the third-best on the team behind Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt.

“I would like to think the spot in the order doesn’t dictate what the hitter is going to do,” Farrell said. “Yes, we’d like to find combinations that work in tandem if possible. Once you get past the first time through the order, whether you’re in the three hole or the eight hole, that becomes a little irrelevant to be honest with you. Yeah, the higher up you’re going to get an additional at-bat each night. Bogey has done an excellent job of gradually coming along and being a steady performer to the point of a .300 hitter. He’s going to get added responsibility.”

Craig Breslow has been placed on paternity leave, as he’s expecting twins. Heath Hembree has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.

— Farrell said Justin Masterson (right shoulder tendinitis) is physically able to pitch on Monday, but it is unclear where that will be. He said the two would meet before Friday’s game to map out a plan.

— Ryan Hanigan (fractured right hand) will take batting practice on the field Saturday for the first time. He’s on the 60-day disabled list and should be able to return right around the All-Star break.

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Read More: Craig Breslow, David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, justin masterson
Red Sox lineup: Hanley Ramirez out vs. Blue Jays; Xander Bogaerts moved up in order at 3:13 pm ET
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In the midst of a seven-game hit streak, Xander Bogaerts has been moved up to No. 3 in the order as the Red Sox host the Blue Jays in the first of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak, while the Blue Jays come in winners of eight straight.

Hanley Ramirez is out of the lineup after appearing to be in obvious pain for much of the series in Baltimore after fouling a pitch off his knee. Brock Holt will take his place in left field, as the Red Sox go up against Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison.

Blake Swihart will catch Red Sox starter Joe Kelly.

For an closer look at the matchups, click here. For a series preview, click here.

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Brock Holt, LF
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Mookie Betts, CF
Blake Swihart, C
Rusney Castillo, RF
Joe Kelly, RHP

Read More: hanley ramirez, xander bogaerts,
Xander Bogaerts makes homework against Tyler Clippard pay off with game-winning hit 06.07.15 at 6:13 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts drives in the tying and go-ahead runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts drives in the tying and go-ahead runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Nothing symbolized Sunday’s dramatic rally from 4-0 down in the bottom of the eighth better than the at-bat Xander Bogaerts put up against Oakland closer Tyler Clippard.

Just like the Red Sox, who started the inning down four runs, Bogaerts found himself in a nasty 0-2 hole against the A’s righty when he, like his teammates, began to chip away.

Bogaerts fouled off two fastballs from Clippard to fall behind two strikes before he really went to work. He took two straight pitches out of the strike zone sandwiched around a throw to first to keep Mookie Betts close. After Betts stole second to put runners at second and third, Bogaerts fouled off another pitch.

All the while, Bogaerts didn’t change his strategy. A lot of batters would be defensive in this situation, down 4-3 with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. Foul off pitches until you get a fastball you can drive. But Bogaerts, along with hitting coach Chili Davis had a better idea.

“I was not looking for a fastball that whole at-bat and he threw me a lot [of fastballs],” Bogaerts said. “I just fouled them off, stayed alive. I was looking for a changeup since pitch one and he threw me one right there.”

Why wasn’t Bogaerts looking fastball?

“He has a good changeup and he tends to throw at least one in every at-bat,” Bogaerts said. “On the 2-2, I fouled one off right next to the dugout. Chili looked at me like, ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ We always talk about it. It doesn’t matter if you foul off a ball, you’ve got to try to pull it the next time. Just stay on it and he threw me what I was looking for. It was actually a really good pitch by him. I was just waiting on it and put a good swing on it.”

Clippard tipped his cap to Bogaerts for hanging in and executing on a changeup that he couldn’t have put in a better place.

“Threw a changeup down and in. I got it there. It was probably four inches off [the plate] in,” Clippard said. “Normally, when guys get to that pitch, all they can do is hit it foul. He did a good job of staying inside that pitch running into him and kept it fair and hit it off the wall. I wasn’t mad about the execution.

“He took some poor swings on my fastball throughout that whole at-bat. I felt like I did a good job of reading his swing up until that last pitch. Probably should have thrown another fastball but in hindsight it’s always easy to say. It is what it is. I’m just trying to get him out any way I can. I’m trying to get him to chase my pitch and he put a good at-bat together after that and stayed inside the changeup.”

Bogaerts admitted afterward that while he got the pitch he wanted, he knows he just as easily could have headed back to the dugout with the third out of the inning and the Sox still down a run.

“[Usually] a strikeout. I went back and saw that [on video],” he said. “I can’t guarantee you that I would do that again if I got that pitch.”

Things seemed somewhat dim heading into the bottom of the eighth. The Sox had managed just five hits in seven scoreless innings against Oakland starter Kendall Graveman.

“I remember just looking at the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth, 4-0,” Bogaerts recalled. “Just trying to think how we can get some runs. That was probably the biggest win for us this year, for sure.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, chili davis, Oakland A's, tyler clippard
Red Sox-Athletics series preview 06.05.15 at 10:39 am ET
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Stephen Vogt (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Catcher Stephen Vogt leads the A’s with a .308 average, 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Coming off of a four-game series split with the Twins, the Red Sox will remain at Fenway over the weekend and welcome the A’s to Yawkey Way. The Sox have lost their last two, including a wretched, error-filled, 8-4 decision on Thursday.

The Sox have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games and lost 11 of 16, placing their record at a woeful 24-31 and earning a cellar-dwelling position in the American League East. On Thursday, Farrell acknowledged that he’s taking things personally.

“Absolutely,” he said after his team’s loss. “That was a poor display of baseball today. Those situations are addressed individually, it’s alerted collectively, and we will continue to do so.”

While the sky is falling on Red Sox Nation, the visitors this weekend, too, have had a disjointed and unsuccessful season to date. The A’s have played to a 23-33 record and sit in last place in both the AL West and entire American League.

However, the A’s are winners of seven of their last 10 games and take a four-game winning streak into the weekend at Fenway. General manager Billy Beane’s squad has a plus-10 run differential this season, seventh best in the AL.

Manager Bob Melvin has been impressed with his team’s performance of late.

“We’re just trying to play good — win as many games as we can,” he said Thursday after his team swept the Tigers. “We’re about trying to climb toward .500, and then worry about where you are in the standings.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Stephen Vogt, xander bogaerts
Closing Time: Red Sox offense comes alive, Eduardo Rodriguez impresses again in win over Twins 06.03.15 at 4:08 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts led the Red Sox offense Wednesday in their Game 1 win over the Twins. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts led the Red Sox offense Wednesday in their Game 1 win over the Twins. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

For the first time in what has seemed like months, the Red Sox offense actually looked like the offense that was expected going into the season.

The Red Sox rattled off 13 hits, including having four players record multi-hit games, as the offense along with the second straight great start from Eduardo Rodriguez, was more than enough to beat the Twins, 6-3 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park.

The 13 hits tied a season-high for a fifth time.

Rodriguez went seven complete innings allowing one run (a home run) on just two hits, while walking two and striking out seven. He threw 103 pitches (77 strikes) in his Fenway Park debut, after going 7 2/3 shutout innings in his first major league start against the Rangers last Thursday.

The left-hander is the first pitcher to go seven or more innings and allow no more than three hits or one run in each of his first two MLB outings since 1916.

The Red Sox broke the game open in the fifth when they scored twice to take a commanding 5-1 lead and chased Twins starter Phil Hughes from the game. Xander Bogaerts’ two-RBI single chased Hughes from the game after just 4 2/3 innings. It was his third hit off Hughes of the game, as the shortstop now has hits in nine straight home games.

Dustin Pedroia scored the Red Sox’ first two runs of the game, scoring in the first and again in the third. Pedroia owns Hughes, as for his career the second baseman is hitting .390 with 15 RBI.

The Red Sox got on the board early, scoring their 16th first inning run of the season when Pedroia scored from first on an David Ortiz double off the base of the wall in left center. The ball appeared catchable, but center fielder Aaron Hicks misjudged it. Even with the run, the Red Sox have still been outscored 37-16 in the first inning this year.

Wednesday afternoon marked just the ninth time in the Red Sox’ last 31 games that they scored five runs or more.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Bogaerts. The shortstop went 3-for-4 and is now hitting .515 (17-for-33) at home in his last nine games and looks more confident than ever both at the plate and in the field. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, eduardo rodriguez, mike napoli
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