Monday, June 22, 2015

Red Sox Rout Royals

Ramirez kicked off the scoring with his second inning solo shot (Boston Herald)
In the midst of a season where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, the last-place Red Sox enjoyed a day where everything went right.

Boston authored its most dominant victory of the season yesterday, bludgeoning the Kansas City Royals 13-2. The 13 runs marked a season high for the Sox, who lost the only other time they scored in double digits this season. It was also the team's largest margin of victory this year, surpassing their 8-0 pasting of the moribund Philadelphia Phillies back on Opening Day.

A season that began with so much hope and promise has quickly deteriorated into a nightmare. In between those two routs the Red Sox were abysmal, going 29-40 and getting outscored by 64 runs. There is no quick fix, as their pitching, hitting, baserunning, and defense have all been horrendous. Frustration seems to be setting in, first manifesting itself in the form of Wade Miley's outburst in Baltimore, then again on Saturday with David Ortiz's ejection.

But on Father's Day, at least, all was right in Red Sox Nation. Boston didn't just beat the best team in the American League (on the road, no less); they clobbered them. The bats, mysteriously quiet for much of the spring, came alive on the first day of summer to pound out 16 hits, all but three of which went for extra bases. Miley continued to redeem himself in the aftermath of his blow-up with six shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 4.50 after his second straight strong outing.

It has to be a great feeling as the Red Sox return home for a three-game set with the O's, having just won their first series in two weeks. Mookie Betts, back in the leadoff spot, scored three times and was a single shy of the cycle in extending his hitting streak to nine games. Brock Holt, who cycled on Tuesday, bolstered his line with a triple and two doubles. Dustin Pedroia also had a trio of hits including two doubles, shaking off the knee soreness that caused him two miss two games earlier in the week and snapping a stretch of 12 hitless at-bats.

Ortiz, still smoldering from Saturday's ejection, belted a towering home run over the right field bullpen. The blast--Papi's fourth in the past 11 days--was also the 476th of his career, breaking a tie with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 30th on the all-time list. Hanley Ramirez hit a monster home run of his own, crushing his team-leading 15th of the year over the left field bullpen for the game's first run. Xander Bogaerts continued to impress at the plate with three doubles and a game-high three RBI.

Miley, meanwhile, allowed eight Royals to reach base in his six innings but none to score--impressive given that he notched just two strikeouts. It helped that the Boston defense behind him did not commit any errors.

This is exactly the kind of game Ben Cherington must have envisioned when he brought in Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval over the winter, assembling what at the time was widely thought to be the best offense in baseball. The Red Sox were supposedly returning to the formula that helped them win it all in 2013, building a deep lineup that could blow teams out of the water on any given night. It hasn't panned out that way, but perhaps with the weather warming and several Sox hitters coming around, the team's frustrated fans may finally get to see what Boston's bats are capable of.

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