BOSTON — It doesn’t matter who the Red Sox plug into the lineup. Chances are they’re going to find a way to win.
It’s amazing that’s the case considering the 10-game losing streak the Red Sox endured before kicking off their current seven-game win streak. Yet times have changed in Boston in a heartbeat.
The Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday at Fenway Park. There was a lot to like about the victory if you’re a Red Sox fan, so let’s go over some key notes.
– Jon Lester was fantastic.
Lester surrendered just four hits over seven shutout innings. He struck out 12, walked one and threw 112 pitches (73 strikes).
“He was outstanding,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “When you consider four pitches for strikes, he was pitching to a good pitcher’s zone, but still he executed a number of pitches. Today might have been one of the better curveballs that he’s had on the year.
The performance marked Lester’s 19th career double-digit strikeout game, passing Smokey Joe Wood for third-most in Red Sox history. Only Pedro Martinez (72) and Roger Clemens (68) have more.
– Lester was asked (again) after the game about his contract talks with the Red Sox.
“The contract talks will come at the right time,” Lester said. “Right now we need to focus on what we need to do tomorrow to win and not let this be a distraction for anybody else in the clubhouse. Like I said that time will come. Whether it’s tomorrow, I don’t know. Whether it’s in the offseason, I don’t know. We’ll figure that out as we go.”
– Garin Cecchini and Alex Hassan both made their major league debuts. And they both collected hits.
Cecchini and Hassan became the first pair of Red Sox to make their major league debut in the same game since Greg Blosser and Jeff McNeely debuted together on Sept. 5, 1993. They’re the first Red Sox duo to make their debut and record a hit on the same day since Steve Dillard and Andy Merchant on Sept. 28, 1975.
– Cecchini said he’s been told he’s headed back to Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t faze the happy-go-lucky third baseman.
“I’m living the dream,” Cecchini said with a smile. “Even if I’m in Triple-A, I’m living the dream.”
– Hassan became the first Massachusetts native to record a hit for the Red Sox since Mark Bellhorn homered off Randy Johnson (then with the New York Yankees) on July 16, 2005.
Hassan became the first Massachusetts native to start in the outfield for the Red Sox since Billy Conigliaro in 1971.
– Brock Holt has become a stud.
Holt went 4-for-4 with four doubles, a walk and two RBIs. He did it all while playing first base for the first time ever, further showing the 25-year-old’s confidence is at an all-time high.
“Confidence is a big part of being successful,” Holt said. “If you are confident in your ability, you can go out and play like you are capable of playing. Right now, things are going well.”
Holt’s four doubles tied a big league record. The last major leaguer to hit four doubles in a single game was Victor Martinez on June 1, 2010.
Holt really has solidified the top of the Red Sox’s order. His versatility, particularly his ability to play first base, now is even more important since the Red Sox learned that Mike Carp will miss time with a fractured right foot.
– Dustin Pedroia was ejected by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn at the conclusion of the third inning for arguing.