Is Boston finally getting back on track, or does it just seem that way because the Orioles are in town? On Saturday night, a somewhat rejuvenated offense staked out an early 3-0 lead and strung together a few clutch two-out hits en route to a 7-2 win over Baltimore. Jon Lester continued his dominance over the Orioles and helped Boston gain a game on New York in the AL East standings.
Red Sox 7, Orioles 2
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
June 25, 2009
Headliner: Jon Lester sure loves pitching at Fenway — or maybe he just loves pitching to the Orioles. Over nine home starts prior to Saturday's, the southpaw owned a 4-3 record with a 3.14 ERA at the Fens, and against the Orioles in 2009, he was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA.
On Saturday, Lester continued both of those trends: He submitted 7 1/3 solid innings, allowing eight hits and two runs while striking out nine. He is now 9-0 in his career against Baltimore.
Dirt Dog: An offense succeeds when its leadoff hitter gets on base — and perhaps that's the reason why Boston has won two straight games. Jacoby Ellsbury has taken proud ownership of the leadoff spot for the past two nights, earning three extra-base hits — including two doubles on Saturday that accounted for two of Boston's runs. He finished the night 2-for-5.
Special shout-out to Adam LaRoche, who had gone 0-for-3 through the first seven innings of the contest before sending an eighth-inning, two-run shot on top of the Green Monster for his first hit in a Red Sox uniform.
Better Luck Next Time: Lots of candidates for this coveted spot, one of whom is Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie. The Mother's Day Miracle extraordinaire went 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits while walking three and fanning two.
J.D. Drew also gets a nod for a failed imitation of Nick Markakis in the top of the fourth: With a man on second, Matt Wieters sent a single to right, and Drew tried to rush the ball home to catch the runner — but his throw was up the line, late, and allowed Wieters to advance to second.
The third nod goes to Ellsbury, who was picked off second base in the bottom of the fourth right after a two-out RBI double. Way to kill a rally.
Key Moment: Boston got on the board very early on, when David Ortiz's two-out bomb put the Sox up 3-0 in the first inning. They added another run in the bottom of the second, when Ellsbury notched a two-out RBI double. Finally, the offense seems to have rediscovered the meaning of "clutch hitting." Let's hope it lasts once the Orioles leave town.
On Deck: Can the Red Sox sweep, or will they have to settle for a series win? The answer lies with John Smoltz (1-3, 6.31 ERA). He takes the mound for Boston, still trying to prove that his "good stuff" is good enough to earn a win for the club. If Smoltz can avoid the One Bad Inning Syndrome — last time out, he allowed one run through five innings, then surrendered three homers in the sixth — he may be OK. The Orioles look to David Hernandez (2-2, 3.55) to help them salvage a win at Fenway.