Someone must have messed up an order. The fireworks arrived in Boston a month early.
The Red Sox put on quite the show at Fenway Park on Tuesday, beating the one team that has dominated them this season by double-digits.
Boston plated runs in each of the first seven innings, including home runs in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth, to score more runs in one night than the Rangers put up in their entire three-game sweep in Arlington the last time these two teams met. Ironically, the only inning that the home team did not score in was the eighth, when Texas had left fielder David Murphy on the mound.
But the takeaway from the club’s 17-5 shellacking of Texas shouldn’t just be that the Sox hung two touchdowns and a field goal on arguably the American League’s best team. What’s more important to note is where those runs came from.
Red Sox batters crossed the plate 17 times, but the heart of the order (Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli) combined to do so just once. (The most productive play from that trio was also the game’s most unlikely: Ortiz legging out a triple that scored two runs in the second inning then tagging up on a Napoli line drive.)
Boston’s offense ran not through its heart, but through its extremities. The unusual pairing — necessitated by injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino — of Daniel Nava and Mike Carp at the top of the lineup was amazingly potent Tuesday night, going a combined 6-for-8 with two doubles, a home run, two walks, four RBIs and seven runs scored.
“Regardless of where Nava has been positioned, his approach at the plate doesn’t change,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He doesn’t take on a personality just because [he’s] in the one-, two- or six-hole. He goes up and puts up a consistent at-bat and he continues to do it.
“So much has been asked about him because of the path he’s taken over the course of his career, but you look at the numbers he continues to put up and it’s been not only well above average, it’s been consistent. He hasn’t had many games where he’s gone without a base hit.”
Boston’s No. 6 through 9 hitters were similarly successful against starter Justin Grimm and Texas’ stable of relievers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew both fell a triple short of the cycle, scored three times and drove in two runs. Jose Iglesias — continually stating his case to remain on the major league roster — reached base three times and scored twice, and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his first career home run to catalyze a six-run second inning.
Of all the offensive stars, Farrell specifically called attention to the performance of his two youngest players.
“The real encouraging thing is what Iglesias and Jackie Bradley do,” Farrell said after Tuesday’s game. “Any time that we can add those young players to fill in for guys that are injured, they give us some life. They give us a feeling of not only life, but of encouragement when you look at young talented players that are stepping in and doing a good job.”
Factoring in the injuries that held Ellsbury and Victorino out, the Red Sox got just one run out of their prototypical top five hitters Tuesday night, yet they still hung a 17-spot on the Rangers. That kind of offensive depth can make this club a very scary team as the season progresses.