Thursday, May 26, 2011
Rapid reaction: Red Sox 14, Tigers 1
By Gordon Edes
DETROIT -- Here’s some advice for major-league advance scouts currently following the Red Sox: When filing your reports, skip the details and keep it short. Like this:
Fresh off inflicting a fearsome beating on the Cleveland Indians, the team with the best record in baseball, the Red Sox surfed a couple of hours west on Lake Erie, beached in Detroit, and smacked the Tigers upside the head, 14-1. The game was called after a 55-minute rain delay in the middle of the eighth inning.
(Note to potential tweeters/e-mailers: We understand we are exaggerating a bit here. Technically, Detroit is not on Lake Erie and no sane person surfs there.)
But there is no overstating the way the Red Sox are brandishing the bats -- for the month of May, for the last week, for the last two games. And Carl Crawford, at long last, is all in with the rest of his swinging teammates.
Crawford had four hits Wednesday, including a home run, and four more hits Thursday, including two triples, which should allay any lingering concerns that Crawford’s skills had somehow atrophied the moment he left the employ of the Tampa Bay Rays.
When Crawford awoke Wednesday morning, he was batting a fretful .212. A little more than 24 hours later, after 8 hits in 9 at-bats, Crawford was upwardly mobile, moving into the vastly more respectable neighborhood of .244, with a bullet.
"It felt real good just to be able to hit the ball and be yourself,'' Crawford said. "I haven’t felt that way in a long time, so to have that feeling back for a few days, it’s great.''
The Sox, meanwhile, scored 14 runs in back-to-back games for the first time since July 2-3, 1998, although Thursday it took them three innings to score seven runs, a feat they accomplished in one against the Indians during Wednesday's 14-2 win.
Go back to the 15-run explosion they enjoyed last Friday night against the Chicago Cubs, and the Sox have scored 57 runs in their last 7 games. In that span, they added these video-game numbers: 21 doubles, 11 home runs, and 3 triples, all by Crawford.
"Two good days in a row, but as far as tomorrow goes, Porcello will have something to say about that,'' said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, referring to Friday's scheduled starter for the Tigers, Rick Porcello. "That's always the case. But it's nice to have games like that once in a while. They're good for you.''
The improbable catalysts Thursday were journeyman backup Drew Sutton and newly arrived Josh Reddick, who combined for five hits and four runs and knocked in the first two runs in the second inning, which was soon followed by Jacoby Ellsbury’s three-run home run, his fifth of the season.
Sutton was playing shortstop in place of Jed Lowrie, who was given a day off by Francona after going hitless Wednesday, and why not? Sutton had three hits Wednesday, including two doubles, while filling in for Kevin Youkilis, and had two more doubles Thursday.
Reddick, who has been yo-yo’d up and down eight times in the last three seasons by the Red Sox, arrived from Pawtucket, space made for him when the Sox placed Darnell McDonald on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps muscle. With J.D. Drew hampered by a sore hamstring, the Sox decided they needed some reinforcements. With three singles Thursday, Reddick drove in three runs -- generating in one afternoon nearly one-third of Drew’s RBI total (10) this season.
The beneficiary of Thursday’s Motown mauling was Alfredo Aceves, who went six innings, allowed just one run, came up with a couple of inning-ending strikeouts when he needed them, and has now given up one run in each of two starts he has made since John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka became fodder for the disabled list.
Aceves' is now 16-1 overall, the best record of any pitcher with 15 or more decisions in history. The so-called insurance policy is paying big-time premiums. And Sox starters have now gone six straight starts in which they have allowed two or fewer runs. We could tell you who pitched for the Tigers, but other than rookie Adam Wilk, who pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief and allowed just one unearned run in his big-league debut, the other guys are better off left in the small print of the box score.
The Sox, winners of 11 of their last 13 games, lead the majors in every meaningful offensive category in May, except for home runs; they began the day two home runs behind the Yankees. Yes, there is a correlation between that and their 17-7 record for the month, the best in the bigs.