One player busted out of a prolonged slump, while another continued to dominate.
The Red Sox’ 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night at Fenway Park was highlighted by another strong outing from Steven Wright, and by a big night for the recently dormant Hanley Ramirez.
Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Ramirez scored on an RBI double from the also-slumping Travis Shaw. Then, in the third inning, the Sox’ lineup exploded for five runs.
— Red Sox de Boston (@RedSoxBeisbol) June 16, 2016
Four consecutive singles from Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and David Ortiz brought the lead to 3-0, setting the stage for Hanley.
Orioles’ starter Kevin Gausman challenged Ramirez with a first-pitch fastball, and Hanley absolutely destroyed it, sending the ball deep over the monster to give the Red Sox a 6-0 lead.
That would be more than enough for Wright, who for the 22nd time in 24 career starts, allowed three runs or less.
Hanley Ramirez amusingly forgot Steven Wright’s name briefly during his postgame interview. This is why you keep your helmet on at all times
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 16, 2016
Wright surrendered three runs on six hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking none to improve his record to 8-4. He was pitching a shutout until Adam Jones took him deep in the seventh for a two-run homer.
The 31-year-old knuckleballer exited to a standing ovation in the eighth, but Junichi Tazawa allowed an inherited runner to score, raising Wright’s ERA to 2.22. Wright now trails Cleveland’s Danny Salazar (2.19) for the AL’s best ERA.
Tazawa was charged with another run after allowing a pair of doubles to make the score 6-4, but Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 15th save of the season.
The win improved Boston’s record to 37-27, as they moved back into a tie with Baltimore for first place in the AL East.
The Sox will look to earn the series victory Thursday night when they send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to square off against the Orioles’ Tyler Wilson.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) June 16, 2016
Ramirez — Hanley hadn’t homered in his last 105 at-bats until his Mars-shot Wednesday night. Furthermore, he’d hit just .182 in his last 21 games. After the game, Ramirez said “Get ready, get your ticket. First class, whatever coach, it’s about to get hot.”
Two runners on for @HanleyRamirez.
— MLB (@MLB) June 16, 2016
For the record, I doubt Hanley has ever flown “Whatever Coach.”
The Red Sox offense has proven capable of surviving the occasional slump, but a productive Ramirez makes an enormous difference.
Wright — It was his 11th quality start of the season. Wright continues to make a strong case to be an American League All-Star, as he’s now 8-4 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He’s been the best pitcher on one of the best teams in baseball.
Steven Wright threw 22.1 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run before Adam Jones’ 7th-inning HR.
— Red Sox Notes (@SoxNotes) June 16, 2016
Craig Kimbrel — The hard-throwing closer took a little bit of flack at the start of the season, when he was looking a little more erratic than fans had hoped for. But Kimbrel has been dominant lately. Since the start of May, he’s allowed just one run. He now has 15 saves on the season, to go along with a 2.13 ERA and 0.75 WHIP. And, if nothing else, he’s raw entertainment when on the mound.
Craig Kimbrel: fastest ever to 600 career strikeouts. (Coming soon: Aroldis Chapman) pic.twitter.com/ra43yvi76U
— Braves Stats ñ More (@BravesStats) June 16, 2016
Christinan Vazquez — For all the fans that couldn’t wait for Vazquez to come up and relieve Blake Swihart, get used to what you’re seeing. I don’t think’ Vazquez is as bad as he’s looked lately, but he’s still been miserable, and really doesn’t look like a productive Major League hitter. After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Wednesday, his average is down to .209, to go along with a .248 OBP and .547 OPS.
KEEP AN EYE ON
With Roenis Elias set to make his Red Sox’ debut on Friday, the team will face a bit of a roster problem, something manage John Farrell acknowledged before Wednesday’s game.
With Brock Holt still on the DL with a concussion, and Blake Swihart sidelined for the foreseeable future, the team is expected to look internally for a left-handed outfield bat to pair with Chris Young.
Elias’ arrival will likely signal the end for yet another rousing stint from Rusney Castillo, but there will have to be additional roster moves to accommodate the fluid situation in the outfield.