BOSTON — Going out West is never easy. But it?s a little less daunting when you can pack an 8-1 homestand in your suitcase.
The Red Sox capped an impressive nine-game home stretch with an 8-2 victory over the Padres on Thursday. Allen Webster picked up his first major league win, Jacoby Ellsbury continued his torrid pace and the Boston offense pounded out 18 hits. It?s safe to say that the Red Sox enter their 10-game road trip in a good place.
?We played very well,? manager John Farrell said of the homestand. ?We?ve gotten some good starting pitching this last time through the turn of the rotation and really the last two times. We?ve had some exciting games late and I think this further builds the momentum and confidence of this group. Any time you can rack up that many wins in a nine-game homestand it?s obviously ? and this is the obvious statement ? it?s a good thing.?
The Red Sox further solidified themselves as one of the game?s elite teams over the last nine games. They took three of four from the Blue Jays, who entered last weekend?s series as one of the hottest teams in baseball. They then swept the Padres, and they?ll now head out West with a major league-leading 53 wins stashed in their luggage.
What?s truly amazing about Boston?s 53 wins is the variety of ways in which they?ve come. The three-game sweep of San Diego hammers home that point.
On Tuesday, John Lackey turned in another fantastic performance, and the Red Sox hung on after establishing an early lead.
On Wednesday, Jonny Gomes blasted a walk-off home run as the Red Sox squeaked by the Padres, 2-1. It was Boston?s eighth walk-off win of the season, proving again that this year?s team doesn?t shy away from pressure-packed situations.
And on Thursday, the offense put on a clinic. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit, and everyone besides Brandon Snyder, who homered, had at least two. The last time that eight Red Sox starters had multihit games in a nine-inning game was on May 25, 2011, at Cleveland.
?The offense that we have right now is somewhat in a lot of ways reminiscent of many Red Sox teams in the past and that is the approach, a lot of deep counts, try to get into that bullpen as early as possible,? Farrell said. ?This goes back to a lot of conversation in the offseason on who were gonna target and it?s playing out.?
The Red Sox will have their work cut out for them beginning on Friday. They?ll first stop in Los Angeles for three games against a much-improved Angels team, with both C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver slated to pitch. They?ll then take on the Mariners for four games before traveling to Oakland for three games against the AL West-leading Athletics.
?This will be another good test for us,? Farrell said before Thursday?s game of the upcoming trip. ?I think it?s important to have that momentum going into the break. You never want to go into a stretch where you start to maybe slide back from the confidence that?s been built or the wins that we?ve been able to amass. We?ll be challenged not only in the teams we play — obviously the Angels are playing better now than when they were in town here last, Oakland is having a very strong season in their own right — [but also] in the fact that we go out West, which presents its own set of challenges. This will be a tough trip for us.?
The upcoming trip is as important as it is tough. No team wants to enter the All-Star break skidding across the runway, regardless of how smooth the overall flight has been. It?s hard to envision any turbulence, though, especially with how clear the skies have been for the Red Sox of late.