Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 15, Marlins 5
By Tony Lee
BOSTON -- You might remember where you were that early summer night when the Boston Red Sox made history against the Marlins. It was June 27, 2003. After scoring 10 runs before a single out was recorded (a team record) and 14 first-inning runs overall (another team record), the Sox coasted to a 25-8 victory (the 25 runs are second on the team's all-time list for one game).
For a while, it looked as though Wednesday night at Fenway Park would offer up an encore. Boston ushered in a summer of intrigue, officially speaking, with a 15-5 pasting of the Fish from Florida. Through four innings the score was 12-4, seemingly on pace to matching the 2003 pounding.
The one remaining link between then and now, for either team, is David Ortiz, who had a home run and scored four times in that 25-8 win and whose grand slam in the fourth inning Wednesday broke things open. It was Ortiz's 11th career grand slam and 396th career home run, tying him with Joe Carter for 52nd in baseball history.
In addition to being that lone link from the days of when the Red Sox were still a cursed team, Ortiz has been the one constant for the club this year. He has four home runs and 11 RBIs during a short but booming six-game hitting streak, owns six homers in each month of the season and is a .354 (46-for-130) hitter at home.
Boston's outfield is in a constant state of flux, as is the rotation. The star first baseman is struggling, as is the star second baseman. The star third baseman is no longer luminary; he's definitive trade bait. And the designated hitter just keeps hammering the baseball.
Quite an outburst: Although the Sox fell far shy of scoring 25 runs, they did establish a team season high for scoring. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Aviles and Will Middlebrooks also homered and every starter except Nick Punto had at least one hit.
Speaking of Punto: For a brief moment, he was cursed at for doing nothing more than scampering home on a wild pitch. Why? Well, it robbed Ortiz of a chance to become the 14th player in history to hit two grand slams in a single game. Ortiz was up with the bases full in the fifth, but a Chris Hatcher pitch bounced away from Marlins catcher John Buck and Punto raced in easily. Ortiz struck out anyway, but you've never heard so many groans over a player's scoring on a wild pitch in your life.
By the way, four Boston players are among the 13 who have slugged two grand slams in a game, the last being Bill Mueller in 2003.
File under "Things you don't see every day": It is not often that line drives off the Green Monster score a runner all the way from first. It is even rarer that such scenarios occur with less than two outs, a time when a team may be less apt to make a dash home. And Ortiz is one of the last guys you'd expect to make that 270-foot dash.
That's exactly what occurred in the bottom of the third inning. After a pair of singles and a ground out, Ortiz was intentionally walked. Miami starter Ricky Nolasco then fell behind Cody Ross, who ripped a 2-0 offering off the Monster. It trickled back toward the infield after Logan Morrison's leaping attempt went for naught.
Ortiz was waved in by third-base coach Jerry Royster. The throw barely beat Ortiz to the plate, but Marlins catcher John Buck could not hang on after the large designated hitter slid into him.
Whoa, Adrian: He teases us with a breakout performance once in a while, but the numbers continue to plummet for Adrian Gonzalez. The season's halfway mark is around the corner and Gonzalez, after outs in his first two at-bats in this one, was flirting with becoming one of a handful of American League hitters with an on-base percentage below .300 (teammate Mike Aviles is another). That is stunning for a guy who has finished in the top seven in that category in his respective league each of the past three seasons, including a third-place finish last year.
Gonzalez showed a little life in his bat in this one with a solid single ahead of Ortiz's slam. He also walked in the fifth. Still, he's without an extra-base hit in 10 games and is just 1-for-14 in his last four. That OBP is back up to .312, a mere 98 points below last year's mark.
Crazy eights: You probably will not find many major leaguers who say they like hitting eighth. Mike Aviles is one who could make an argument for it. With a 2-for-5 showing, he is now a career .350 (41-for-117) hitter in that spot.
Silly sevens: Kevin Youkilis hit in front of Aviles. It marked the first time since June 13, 2006 that Youkilis had started a game hitting seventh. And since this is a numbers-heavy Rapid Reaction, it is worth noting that Youkilis has not shared Aviles' success near the bottom of the order; even with a 2-for-3 effort, the struggling first baseman/third baseman is 16-for-76 (.211) as the No. 7 hitter in his career.