BOSTON — It took more than 150 games, but the Red Sox’s offense is rolling.
The Red Sox, who started seven rookies for the second straight game, defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 11-1 in Thursday’s series finale at Fenway Park. It’s the first time this season the Sox have scored 11 runs in back-to-back games, as Boston defeated Tampa Bay 11-3 on Wednesday.
The Sox now welcome the New York Yankees to town for three games to close out the 2014 season. Derek Jeter, who played his final home game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, expects to play this weekend “in some capacity,” meaning he’ll probably serve as New York’s designated hitter.
Before diving into Jeter-mania, let’s go over Thursday’s clash.
— The Red Sox rookies were incredible. Again.
The Red Sox’s six starting rookie position players hit a combined .450 (20-for-46) with three homers, four doubles, seven walks, 16 RBIs and 17 runs scored over the last two games.
Both rookie starting pitchers, Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster, earned wins.
— Webster finished his season with a fourth consecutive strong performance.
Webster matched a career-low with one run allowed over a career-high seven innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked one.
— Mookie Betts matched a career-high with three hits atop the order.
Betts has produced multiple hits in 12 of his last 26 games, during which he’s hitting .330 (34-for-103) with three homers, six doubles, a triple, 13 RBIs and a .400 on-base percentage.
— Yoenis Cespedes extended his hit streak to five games with a 2-for-5 effort.
Cespedes is hitting .348 (8-for-23) over the life of his hit streak.
— Bryce Brentz went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Brentz, who has back-to-back multihit games, is hitting .400 (6-for-15) since joining the Red Sox.
— Christian Vazquez had a huge game.
Vazquez drilled his first major league home run — a two-run shot — in the second inning, ending a 168-at-bat homerless drought to begin his career. The 24-year-old catcher, who added an RBI double, finished 4-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Vazquez also gunned down Ben Zobrist trying to steal second base. He has thrown out 15 of 29 attempted base stealers (52 percent).
— Rusney Castillo has the look of a potentially dynamic player.
Castillo ripped his first big league homer — a three-run dinger — into the Monster seats in left-center field in the third inning. It was an impressive display of pull power by the 27-year-old Cuban outfielder.
Castillo added a wall-ball, RBI double in the seventh inning. He showed good acceleration around first base and scored from second base moments later when Brentz singled into left field.
“We know it’s a skills package that’s got hitability, there’s arm strength, there’s speed on the base paths,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “In BP, he shows you that (power). And tonight, it carried over into the game. I think it’s just a matter of giving him regular at-bats and more rhythm and flow to the games played.”
The 2-for-4 effort marked the first multihit game of Castillo’s career. He’s hitting .222 (6-for-27) in seven games with Boston.
— Vazquez and Castillo became the seventh and eighth rookies to homer for the Sox this season, setting a new single-season franchise record.
Vazquez and Castillo are only the second pair of Red Sox teammates to hit their first career homers in the same game. Garry Hancock and Chico Walker accomplished the feat on Sept. 7, 1980.
Photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images