BOSTON -- Now that’s more like it.
After an offensively inept effort in a three-game series at Baltimore to end a lackluster road trip, the Boston Red Sox have finally busted out the bats over the first two games of a four-game series with Cleveland, scoring in double digits Friday night for the first time this season. The 10-3 victory also finally lifted Boston to .500 at home for the first time this season, a hard-to-comprehend scenario for the defending world champs.
Backed by the 11-hit attack, John Lackey put forth 6 2/3 solid innings to improve to 8-4. The heavy rain that threatened to delay the game stopped hours before an on-time first pitch. It never really returned. Nobody was hurt. The hot dogs smelled great. A rare night at Fenway this season when everything went well.
Here’s how it all went down:
My three sons: Dustin Pedroia and his wife, Kelli, welcomed their third baby boy to the world Friday. Pedroia was able to head down the road from the hospital to the park and get into the act, which comes as no surprise.
In fitting fashion, Pedroia had a big impact on the game. He snagged a smoking line drive off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera with one out in the first, diving to his right. He also ranged deep and far to his left to steal a hit from Lonnie Chisenhall in the sixth. On a night when the Sox played some pretty crisp baseball, those were the two best defensive plays.
The soon-to-be-exhausted second baseman chipped in a two-run double in the seventh to extend the lead to 7-3. He scored moments later and immediately went into the clubhouse to warm a bottle.
Nice recovery: Lackey was hit hard early and looked to be headed toward an abbreviated night before turning things around in the middle innings. He gave up a hard single and a line drive out in the first, two singles and a two-run homer in the second, and back-to-back doubles to begin the third. After that second double, a line shot into the left-center field gap by Michael Brantley that forged a 3-3 tie, Lackey set down eight straight until an error by Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the fifth.
The Indians did not record another hit until Cabrera’s double with two outs in the seventh, which came on Lackey’s 110th and final pitch.
The sequel is never as good: When Lackey and Cleveland starter Justin Masterson squared off last week in Cleveland, the result was a clean affair in two hours, 21 minutes. That ties for the shortest game of the season for Boston.
There were hard hits and loud outs from the get-go in this one and Masterson was done after two-plus innings. He had nothing. No zip. No accuracy. An ERA back over 5.00. Easy to wonder if he is hurt.
A slump-buster: Bogaerts was hitless in 19 straight at-bats and one of just two players in the Red Sox lineup without a hit Friday night until the eighth inning rolled around and he received one last invite to the party.
Bogaerts made the opportunity count with a smash off the light tower in left for his sixth home run of the season. The youngster had a bit of a dramatic bat toss, as if throwing away what will one day be a rare slump.
The comforts of home: One of the positive aspects of the A.J. Pierzynski signing was his history at Fenway Park, where he had often hit well (if not for power). The sample size has grown and the trend continues.
Pierzynski’s two-run double into the triangle in the bottom of the second lifted his lifetime mark at Fenway to .332 (70-for-211) over a span of 60 games. Amazingly, he has just one home run and three walks in that stretch.
Junior is mint: It is only two games, but there are indications of a turnaround for Jackie Bradley Jr., who reached base three times, scored twice, and had the defensive play of the year in the series opener and whose RBI triple capped a three-run rally in the second inning of this one.
Bradley added a single and scored in the seventh, and had a four-at-bat game without a strikeout for the first time since May 14.