On a night when a majority of the bullpen was unavailable — thanks to Drew Pomeranz’s underwhelming debut — Steven Wright showed why he’s the true “ace” of the pitching staff.
The 31-year-old knuckleballer allowed two runs (one earned) over eight innings Thursday night at Fenway Park as the Red Sox crushed the Minnesota Twins, 13-2. Wright allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out nine, and was perfect over the first 4 1/3 innings.
— MLB (@MLB) July 22, 2016
While Wright continued to stake his claim as the team’s best starter, the offense continued where they left off Wednesday night, banging out 17 hits.
The Red Sox now have 15 games this season with at least 15 hits. To put that into perspective, no other team in baseball has accomplished that feat more than six times.
Once again, it was the top of the order that did a majority of the damage.
The top of the Red Sox order had itself a day vs. the Twins. pic.twitter.com/cRbnUwjGRD
— ESPN (@espn) July 22, 2016
Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run, his 19th of the season. Later in the inning, David Ortiz scored Dustin Pedroia with an RBI single, and Hanley Ramirez brought home Xander Bogaerts on a double-play.
Just two innings later, Bogaerts scored two with an RBI double, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a solo home run to center field, his 15th of the season.
Twins’ starter Tyller Duffey may have hit the showers at that point, but the onslaught continued.
Mookie Betts is the 1st Red Sox player to hit a home run on the 1st pitch of the 1st inning since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.
— Red Sox Notes (@SoxNotes) July 21, 2016
The Red Sox scored once more in the fifth inning and twice in the seventh, before plating four runs in the eighth inning, including a two-run blast into the right-field seats by Ortiz, his 24th of the season.
The Red Sox weren’t short on big performers Thursday night.
Pedroia went 5-for-5, and Betts, Bogaerts, and Ortiz each had three-hit games. Betts and Bogaerts each had two RBIs, while Ortiz drove in four runs for the game.
— MLB (@MLB) July 22, 2016
Despite the efforts of Wright and the offense, they still weren’t the stars of the game.
No, that honor surely belongs to Clay Buchholz, who put on his janitor garbs and performed mop-up duty in the ninth inning.
Buchholz hadn’t pitched in a game since the July 2 debacle against the Angels, but really couldn’t look happier to be on the mound.
Snarls and eye-rolls abound, Buchholz nursed the nine-run lead like a newborn. He allowed a double in his one inning of work, but gave up no runs, although each batter he faced hit the ball hard and deep.
With the win — John Farrell’s 300th as the Red Sox’ manager — Boston moved a season-high 15 games over .500, at 54-39, as they remained a half-game ahead of Baltimore for first place in the AL East.
The Red Sox will turn to Eduardo Rodriguez Friday night in game two of this four-game series with Minnesota. The Twins will counter with Kyle Gibson.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 21, 2016
Wright — Yes, the Twins are horrible. But Thursday night wasn’t about how Wright limited the twins to just two runs on four hits, or how he struck out nine batters. With just about everyone in the bullpen dead and gone for the night, Wright had to be more efficient than spectacular. Wright needed just 51 pitches over the games first 4 1/3 innings, and threw a total of 108 over his eight innings of work. After a four-game stretch were many were wondering if he was coming down to earth, Wright is now 12-5 with league-leading 2.67 ERA.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 22, 2016
Pedroia — Dustin came into the game hitless in his last 10 at-bats, but had a slump-breaking 5-for-5 performance. Pedroia has alluded much credit this season, as many have been anticipating the inevitable injury. But he’s been great all season long, posting a .304 batting-average and .816 OPS.
Pedroia has 4 career five-hit games. That matches Yaz and Pesky for the most by a Red Sox since at least 1913.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) July 22, 2016
Ortiz — Not much can be said at this point. The eighth inning blast was the 527th of Ortiz’s career, as he’s still showed no signs of slowing down.
John Farrell on David Ortiz: “We’re watching history right in front of us nightly.”
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) July 22, 2016
Ramirez — Tough to pick on anyone, but someone has to get it. Almost predictably, Ramirez followed his three-homer night on Wednesday by going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Thursday night. Ramirez’s true value lies somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, but everyone would like to see him pick one identity and be consistent with it.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Although the addition of Pomeranz has silenced the outcry for a big trade, Dombrowski may not, and should not be done. Koji Uehara is expected to miss at least a month with his right pectoral injury, and who knows how Tazawa and Kimbrel will look when they return.
Carson Smith, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Craig Kimbrel all on DL at once, and the Red Sox don’t need another reliever?
You buy bridges?
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) July 21, 2016
Ziegler is a nice addition, and a timely one, but the Red Sox certainly needed more depth in the bullpen.