You know that burst of energy you get a day after sleeping in? The Red Sox’ offense enjoyed the baseball equivalent on Saturday, as Boston racked up 18 hits en route to an 11-1 victory.
The offensive explosion came just one day after CC Sabathia stymied the Red Sox. The Sox scored just one run in a lackluster effort on Friday, often looking as if they were sleepwalking their way into Yankee Stadium. Boston’s bats woke up on Saturday, though, and it was Mike Napoli who served as the alarm clock.
Mike Carp hit an RBI double down into the left-field corner that landed just fair and just past a sliding Vernon Wells to kick off the scoring in the third inning. Then, after Dustin Pedroia struck out swinging for the inning’s first out, Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted to intentionally walk David Ortiz with first base open. It was a logical decision given Ortiz’s offensive prowess and the potential inning-ending double play it created, but Napoli showed why he’s been a run-producing machine this season.
Napoli fell behind in the count 0-2 against Phil Hughes. He then fouled off a pitch and took two balls before getting a pitch on the outside corner that he could drive. Napoli jumped all over a fastball from Hughes, and he sent it sailing over the right-center field fence to give the Red Sox an early 5-0 lead.
That home run effectively set the tempo for the evening. Even though the Red Sox didn’t score again until the eighth inning, Boston put at least one runner on in every inning, and Hughes exited after throwing 100 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings.
In the eighth, Daniel Nava, who finished with four hits out of the leadoff spot in Jacoby Ellsbury’s absence, smoked a three-run homer to give the Red Sox some extra cushion. Adam Warren tried to go upstairs with a fastball around the lettering, and Nava managed to get on top of it and crush it out of the yard.
The Sox added an exclamation mark in the ninth when Stephen Drew homered as part of another three-run inning.
It was an all-around big night for the offense. Napoli had three hits and his grand slam got the festivities going, but he was simply the catalyst on a night when the Red Sox needed to bounce back from a deflating loss. Nava, Drew and Carp came up big, as did Jackie Bradley Jr. (three hits) and Jose Iglesias (two hits). Even Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who started the game 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, salvaged his night with a ground-rule double and a run scored in the ninth inning.
An effort like Saturday’s would have been encouraging on any night against any team, but it was particularly important given the circumstances. Friday’s letdown pulled the Yankees to within one-game in the American League East, and although it’s still way too early to get caught up in standings, Saturday’s victory guaranteed that the Red Sox will leave New York with a divisional lead intact. That helps with a difficult slate of games on tap, especially from a mental standpoint.
The Red Sox now have to hope they didn’t use up all of their offensive energy. The Sox have one more showdown with the Yankees before the two clubs part ways, and they can’t afford to sleep in with Hiroki Kuroda toeing the rubber in the series finale.