BOSTON — The Red Sox can throw a punch.
Even if they’re not baseball’s most explosive team, most talented team or even its best team, the Red Sox made a huge statement Wednesday. It doesn’t matter what kind of fight the opposition is looking for, the Red Sox are more than willing to throw down and more than capable of emerging victorious.
The Red Sox matched a single-game franchise record with eight home runs Wednesday while steamrolling the offensively gifted Tigers 20-4. The rout came one night after Jon Lester outpitched MLB wins leader Max Scherzer, showing once again that Boston has the ability to win in any number of ways.
“We’re able to keep a lot of players involved and try to keep guys as fresh as possible just on the physical side of things,” manager John Farrell said after Wednesday’s blowout. “On the mentality of the group, this is a very focused and driven team and they’re showing that. At times, it’s been initiated and carried by our rotation. Tonight, we had obviously a very good offensive breakout. It’s a very committed group and one that from the first day of spring training on felt like they had a chance to do something special, and that might be in the process.”
Seven Red Sox players went deep as part of Wednesday’s offensive assault. It’s the first time that the Red Sox have ever accomplished that feat, and the 20 runs are their most since June 27, 2003, when Boston defeated the (then-Florida) Marlins 25-8 at Fenway Park. The 16-run differential is the Sox’ largest since they took down the Yankees 17-1 on July 15, 2005.
“It’s hard to explain,” Farrell said. “You see the number of different guys who put good swings on some pitches and drive some balls out of the ballpark. It gave us an opportunity to get a number of guys off their feet. But just a rare and outstanding offensive night tonight.”
David Ortiz led the way with two homers, and Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava, Ryan Lavarnway and Mike Napoli each had one. Middlebrooks’ was a grand slam that came as part of an eight-run sixth inning.
“Given the situation of the game, obviously Will’s [was the most important homer],” Farrell said. “That had as much meaning inside the game as any. Where we were, what the score was and gave us a cushion that we continued to build on.”
Middlebrooks’ second career grand slam came on the second pitch of the night by Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque. It gave Boston a commanding 10-4 lead at the time, but the Red Sox were only halfway done. When the Sox were finished piling on, they had scored at least one run in every inning in which they batted except for the first inning.
“This is the best time for that to happen because we’re in September already and we had a little bit a lack of offense,” said Ortiz, who collected his 2,000th career hit in the win. “Our pitching has been just dominating and you saw those low scores in our games. That tells you that we needed that one game that kind of wakes you up, and I think this was it.”
The Red Sox were shut out in Monday’s series opener, and they squeaked across just enough against Scherzer on Tuesday to secure a 2-1 win. In that regard, the 20-run, 19-hit effort came out of left field. However, it speaks to what this team is capable of on any given night.
“I think we have a lot of good things that we can accomplish right now,” Ortiz said. “The one thing that I’ve been seeing lately is how we can struggle for a minute and next thing you know everybody is one the same page.”
The Red Sox took two out of three from the Tigers, and they’ve now won five straight series overall. The run includes taking two out of three from the red-hot Dodgers a couple of weeks ago, meaning that the Red Sox — winners of nine of their last 11 games — have gone toe-to-toe with baseball’s best and not only survived, but also come away looking like the better team.
“It’s great to play like that against those teams. Those two teams that you just mentioned are the best teams all the way around that I have seen that we have played against,” Ortiz said of the Tigers and Dodgers. “I’m not saying that the rest of the teams in the league are bad or anything. It’s just when you go player to player and position by position, and from the starting rotation to the bullpen, those guys right there are going to be a hard case when it comes down to the playoffs. They have a lot of power pitching, and you know that in the playoffs, power pitching dominates a lot. The good thing is that we’re in the same category. Our pitching is the best that I’ve seen all year long right now. We’ve just got to give them support offensively.”
The Red Sox provided plenty of offensive support Wednesday, and they’ll now head out for a seven-game, eight-day road trip that kicks off in New York on Thursday. We might not see any 20-4 victories on the trip, but we’ll most definitely see a team that’s willing to trade haymakers in the middle of the ring.