Game No. 69 went according to plan.
The Boston Red Sox produced 16 hits and received contributions from up and down the lineup Friday night in a 7-3 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The performance represents an exception rather than the norm in relation to the season as a whole, but it was exactly how Boston envisioned winning games entering 2015, perhaps offering some hope for the immediate future.
?Good at-bats,? Red Sox manager John Farrell said. ?Pablo (Sandoval) with a couple of well-hit balls here (Friday). We were able to bunch some things together. Mookie (Betts) with a big night offensively. (Mike Napoli) is beginning to swing the bat with a little bit more consistency. A number of good at-bats.?
It would be easier to feel encouraged about the Red Sox?s offensive outburst against the Royals if Boston wasn?t still nine games under .500 (30-39) and just days removed from a seven-game losing streak. To say this is the start of something huge would require one to completely ignore the rest of this season to date, as the Red Sox all too often have followed promising developments with total duds soon after.
However, the Red Sox?s offense has looked like a formidable force this week. Boston has scored 23 runs on 52 hits over its last four games, during which the Sox have secured three wins, including Friday?s energetic victory against the American League?s best team.
The Red Sox scored five runs in the second inning of their series opener against the Royals. Xander Bogaerts and Sandoval set the table for a two-run single by Napoli. Blake Swihart then added a two-run double, and Betts rounded out the scoring with an RBI single into right field. All nine hitters stepped to the plate in the frame, showing off the depth the Sox thought they had upon breaking camp.
?A deep lineup that?s got the ability to put up good at-bats all the way through, particularly when you start to see Blake as he?s really started to gain some comfort level here with each passing week,” Farrell said. “He certainly adds a lot to the bottom third of that order.
“So yeah, this offense has got that capability and we?re starting to see it a little bit more regularly.?
Betts led the way with four hits. Hanley Ramirez, Sandoval, Napoli and Swihart each collected two knocks. Ramirez launched his 14th home run of the season in the fifth inning. Brock Holt was the only player in the Red Sox?s lineup without a hit, and he walked and scored a run.
It was another step forward for an offense that entered the game leading the AL with 163 hits in June. The Red Sox also entered the contest ranked second in the league behind the Toronto Blue Jays with a .280 average this month, which is a far cry from their .245 April or their .237 May.
Is this the start of something bigger and more sustainable? Who knows? One can only be duped so many times before skepticism reigns supreme.
But for a moment in time, however long it lasts, the Red Sox have come as advertised. And it’s rather entertaining, for reasons well beyond the circus act they’ve put on all too frequently this season.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images