If you sneezed Thursday, you missed seven runs.
Red Sox manager John Farrell recently referred to his team as having a ?quick-strike offense.? That assessment still holds true, no doubt, but Farrell might want to amend his description a tad, as Boston looks poised to feature a ?lethal offense? in 2015.
The Red Sox grounded and pounded the Minnesota Twins for seven runs in the sixth inning Thursday en route to an 8-5 win at Hammond Stadium. The victory secured Boston?s seventh Chairman?s Cup (formerly Mayor?s Cup) in nine years, but the Lee County triumph pales in comparison to what else the Red Sox have brewing with Opening Day just days away.
The Red Sox trotted out their starting lineup Thursday, and the sixth-inning barrage provided a taste — albeit a small one — of why Boston is capable of contending this season despite last season?s 71-91 record and lingering questions surrounding the pitching staff.
Xander Bogaerts, Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts started the sixth inning with three straight singles. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz — the lifeblood of the Sox — followed with back-to-back doubles to give Boston a 4-2 lead.
The Twins made a pitching change after Hanley Ramirez flied out to deep right field and Pablo Sandoval connected on an RBI, ground-rule double. Mike Napoli greeted the new hurler, Nick Burdi, with a home run that might land somewhere in Philadelphia after the Red Sox arrive in the City of Brotherly for Monday?s season opener.
Napoli, who launched an impressive broken-bat homer earlier this week against the Twins, looks locked in this spring after undergoing a serious procedure over the offseason to alleviate his longstanding sleep apnea issue. He has a team-leading five home runs — no one else has more than two — to go along with a .417 average (15-for-36) and nine RBIs.
It?s important to keep things in perspective, of course. It?s still early April, the games still don?t count for real and it?s not like the Red Sox are raking against Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez. But as camp comes to a close and Boston looks for something to hang its hat on amid a couple of key injuries to catcher Christian Vazquez and closer Koji Uehara, one mustn’t look any further than the starting nine.
Health, consistency, development. All will be important in 2015. And yeah, the starting rotation and bullpen need to step up despite some ongoing concerns over just how well the units will perform.
But man, that offense looks deadly. A cough, a sneeze and a fart later, any game could be over.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@BostonGlobe