The Boston Red Sox look determined to finish the first half on a positive note.
The Red Sox, owners of two straight walk-off wins to conclude their recent homestand, rolled over the Houston Astros 8-3 in Friday’s series opener at Minute Maid Park. The Sox now hold a three-game winning streak.
Perhaps the sudden turnaround is a sign of things to come, or perhaps it’s a nice little run before the All-Star break that ultimately won’t amount to much. Either way, the Red Sox are showing life.
Let’s dive into some of Fridays’ happenings.
— John Lackey became the Red Sox’s first 10-game winner. (Jon Lester already should have 10 wins, of course, but that’s a different story for a different day.)
Lackey wasn’t as sharp as he’s been for most of the first half. He issued five walks — the most he’s allowed in a start since the beginning of 2013 — and grinded his way through six innings of two-run ball.
The break comes at a good time for Lackey, who has been excellent overall yet has tailed off in recent outings.
— The Red Sox’s offense looked as good as it has in a while.
Boston produced 12 hits, including seven extra-base hits. The Red Sox knocked starter Scott Feldman from the game in the sixth inning, during which they seized control with five runs.
— Christian Vazquez had a big night offensively in just his second major league game.
Vazquez went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a single, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Ironically, Vazquez, whose defensive prowess is well-documented, was charged with an error in the sixth inning when he dropped a popup in foul territory. It probably shouldn’t have been an error, though, as he appeared to lose the ball on the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand.
— David Ortiz hit a three-run double in Boston’s five-run sixth inning.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. batted sixth and continued to show offensive improvement. He collected two hits and scored a run.
— Brock Holt, whose family was in attendance, showed some pop. He led off the game with a double and then added an RBI triple in the third inning.
“I think more than anything his second year in the organization is giving him a tremendous amount of comfort, and we’re realizing and seeing the player he’s been throughout his minor league career,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game.
When asked about Holt’s power, Farrell noted a particular instance in Colorado toward the end of last season when the Red Sox considered asking Holt during batting practice to try to turn on more balls in an effort to flash some additional gap power.
Holt obviously is not a huge power threat, but he has sneaky pop.
— Holt has played every inning (479) of every Red Sox game (52) since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 17.
“It’s been a long run but I’ve enjoyed it — it’s not something I’m going to complain about, that’s for sure,” Holt told the Boston Herald before Friday’s game. “I love being in there. We’ve got three games here, then I’ll have a little R&R over the (All-Star) break. I’ve been enjoying it. To be able to come to the park and know you’re going to be in there is a good feeling.”
— Mike Carp and Burke Badenhop combined for an awkward out in the seventh inning. (The video is here.)
— There always seems to be one guy who doesn’t produce when a team enjoys a big night offensively. It’s just how baseball works.
Xander Bogaerts was that guy. He went 0-for-4 with two double plays, a strikeout and a popout into foul territory with two runners in scoring position. The struggles are real for the 21-year-old.
— Chris Carter hit two home runs for the Astros. So, that’s nice.
— Shane Victorino went 0-for-2 with a walk during a minor league rehab start with Low-A Lowell. He also played seven innings in right field and made an error.
Photo via Twitter/@RedSox