The Boston Red Sox could become a very annoying team to play against down the stretch.
Several veteran players on the Red Sox acknowledged recently that this season has been extremely frustrating, especially given last year’s World Series run. No one within Boston’s clubhouse appears to be mailing it in, however, and the Red Sox absolutely have the potential to dash other teams’ playoff hopes over the final month.
The Red Sox earned their second straight extra-inning win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. The Sox exploded for seven runs in the 11th inning en route to an 11-7 win, which is something Boston can draw plenty of positives from as it inches toward game No. 162 and eyes 2015 as a potential bounce-back campaign.
“We’re happy to get a win,” Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli said after Tuesday’s victory. “We’ve been scuffling a little bit, but two good games back-to-back and we’re going to try to keep it going.”
Dustin Pedroia kickstarted the Red Sox’s offense Tuesday with a two-run homer in the first inning. It was his second home run in as many nights and his third home run of August — his most in a single month since July 2013. It’s been a down year offensively for the hard-nosed second baseman, but a late surge could be something to build on.
The Blue Jays chipped away, ultimately tying the game 3-3 in the fifth inning. Yoenis Cespedes, who evidently has a clutch gene, added to his impressive start to his Red Sox career with a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning that plated Brock Holt.
Jose Bautista tied the game minutes later with his 25th home run of the season. The score stayed 4-4 until the 11th inning, which Mookie Betts started with a base hit into right field.
Blue Jays reliever Casey Janssen definitely helped the Red Sox in the 11th. He tried to throw out Betts at second base on Christian Vazquez’s bunt — an ill-advised decision given Betts’ wheels — and paid for it, as the Red Sox successfully challenged an initial out call. The right-hander then failed to barehand Holt’s bunt attempt, loading the bases for Pedroia, who put the Red Sox in front 6-4 with a two-run single.
“Pedey’s obviously a very smart hitter,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s not trying to overswing the bat and stays in the middle of the field and we get a ground ball base hit for a couple of runs to start things off. Like I said, I think the biggest thing is we ran the bases well and we executed some of the small things tonight.”
Napoli and Allen Craig piled on from there. Napoli crushed a three-run homer into the fifth deck in left field, and Craig went the other way for his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.
“It felt good coming off the bat. I was just trying to get a hit,” Napoli said of his home run, which traveled an estimated 452 feet. “I haven’t been feeling too good at the plate, but I got a pitch I could handle and I got the barrel to it and I hit it good.”
The Red Sox, whose offense has been a major issue all season, still have kinks to work out, many of which relate to their inability to produce with men on base. But a seven-run output in a key spot against a divisional opponent on the road is something the team can take solace in amid a dreadful season.
Playoff team? No. Spoilers? Perhaps.