Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Many ways to count Sox's payback
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Prior to the Boston Red Sox’s resounding 17-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, manager John Farrell was asked about his previous encounter with the Rangers, who entered with the best record in the American League. His response was simple.
“They kind of did what they wanted to us,” he said, Texas’ one-sided sweep in Arlington last month still stinging just a bit.
About six hours later that sting was long gone.
On a head-spinning night at Fenway, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz went head-first over the bullpen wall in pursuit of Mike Carp's home run.
Farrell’s crew recorded 19 hits, 13 of which went for extra bases, in the club’s biggest offensive output since Sept. 19, 2011, when they scored 18 against the Baltimore Orioles. There were superlatives up and down the lineup, and Farrell liked what he saw on and off the field.
“Just hearing the talk in the dugout, and just an upbeat attitude, guys wanting to not be the one that doesn’t put up a base hit in certain situations,” he said. “This is a group that not only loves to compete but they like to compete internally and I think we’re getting quite a bit of that right now.”
Searching for a single hero after a game like this is a vain pursuit. Everyone was a contributor. Perhaps summation of those superlatives would serve best:
• Four Red Sox players had at least three hits, the first time that has happened in a game since Sept. 19, 2011.
• Boston scored a run in each of the first seven innings, the first time it has done so since 1998 and the first major league team to accomplish the feat since Toronto in 2010.
• The 13 extra-base hits, which included four homers and one notable triple (more on that in a moment), were the most for the Sox since 1990 and their most at Fenway since they set the major league record with 17 against the St. Louis Browns in 1950.
• David Ortiz, of all people, recorded the triple, his first in more than two years and the 17th of his career.
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck his first home run against a left-hander in more than a year, ending a string of 25 straight home runs against lefties.
In addition, Jackie Bradley Jr. ripped his first career homer, Stephen Drew had three extra-base hits for the first time in nearly three years, Daniel Nava scored a career-high four runs, Mike Carp reached base four times for the third time in his career and Jose Iglesias extended his hitting streak to nine games and even appeared at second base for the first time as a pro.
It was a head-spinning night that made for an exceptionally calm clubhouse down the first-base line at Fenway Park. Scoring runs at such a rate can have that sort of effect.
“It was a lot of fun. It’s just fun to be a part of that and the guys are obviously in the dugout in a good mood,” said Nava, who scored three runs in the first three innings as Boston built a 9-0 lead.
There was some acknowledgement that Texas had the upper hand in many recent encounters, but relief that the tables had been turned.
“Runs like that, especially against a good team like Texas, it’s rare,” Saltalamacchia said. “We weren’t expecting that, but we were expecting to try and put good at-bats together. We knew that the guy’s been a little bit wild the last few outings so we wanted to make him throw strikes to us and just worked in our favor. A lot of balls over the plate that we were able to get some runs in.”
That “guy” was rookie right-hander Justin Grimm, who gave up eight runs in 1 2/3 innings. He and six other rookie starters that the Sox have faced this year have combined to go 2-5 with a 12.93 ERA versus Boston. None has lasted more than five innings. Add that to the list of superlatives.
Oh, and there’s this. Texas had not allowed double-digit runs in a game all season. In fact, it was the last team in the majors to suffer that distinction on a rare bad night for the top pitching staff in the American League.
To sum up, a Red Sox lineup that started with Nava and Carp and ended with Iglesias and Bradley did historic damage against the best pitching staff in the league and a team that had previously owned them. That’ll take away the sting.