BOSTON — The Red Sox have put up some impressive power numbers this season, but you don’t lead Major League Baseball with 5.9 runs per game just by clubbing a ton of homers. Case in point: Saturday afternoon.
Boston failed to hit a long ball off the Toronto Blue Jays but still plated six runs in a skid-snapping win at Fenway Park. The Red Sox did so with the help of some heads-up baserunning, which helped move runners into scoring position and plated a key run in the sixth inning.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia set the tone in the first inning, swiping an unattended third base with the Blue Jays employing a heavy shift on David Ortiz. Xander Bogaerts must have been watching, because he also took an extra bag in the fifth, again catching Toronto in the shift by going from first to third on an Ortiz groundout to the right side. The Red Sox shortstop went on to score on a Travis Shaw single.
Finally, with Boston leading by just one run in the sixth, left fielder Blake Swihart scored all the way from first on a Mookie Betts double, thanks to an aggressive send from third base coach Brian Butterfield. Swihart initially was called out, but the call was overturned, allowing the Red Sox to earn some breathing room.
“I thought we did an outstanding job of running the bases and taking the extra 90 feet,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Blake scoring from first, Bogaerts going from first to third on a ground-ball out — some heads-up baserunning, for sure.”
The Red Sox went 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts and are stealing bases at an MLB-best 87.5 percent clip this season (35-for-40). They’ve also made 30 outs on base this season, tied for the highest in baseball, but for the most part, their assertive style is paying off.
“It’s part of the culture that we try to set from Day 1 of spring training, and that is to push the envelope on the base paths,” Farrell said. “You can maybe force some errors by the opposition by playing an up-tempo style, but our guys are buying into it, our young players trust it, and we’ve been able to make some good decisions.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Blue Jays:
— It’s hard to find a cool bat in this lineup, but Hanley Ramirez is one of them. The Red Sox first baseman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Saturday and now has just three hits in his last 24 at-bats.
More concerning, though, is that Ramirez hasn’t recorded an extra-base hit since May 15 — a span of 17 games. He has just four home runs in 53 games this season to go along with nine doubles and one triple.
“We made a very specific request of Hanley to get back to the line-drive hitter he’s been for most of his career,” Farrell said. “There’s been some of that, and yet I still think there’s some timing things that have been inconsistent to allow the power to translate.”
— The fifth inning brought a bizarre play when two Blue Jays runners scored on a Steven Wright strikeout of Michael Saunders. Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan couldn’t handle the right-hander’s knuckleball, and Wright forgot to cover home plate as Hanigan tried to throw Saunders out at first, allowing Ryan Goins to score from second base.
“It’s my fault,” Wright said. “I just kind of messed up. That’s something that I need to do. I need to cover home on that thing. I just assumed that (Hanigan) was going to get (Saunders) at first, but that’s what happens when you assume things.”
— Bogaerts had no problem bouncing back after his 26-game hitting streak ended Friday night. The Red Sox shortstop went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored and admitted he can breathe a little easier without the streak looming over him.
“I feel good,” Bogaerts said. “I feel relieved. I’m just trying to go out there and have fun again. (There’s) no added pressure at all.”
— While we’re on the subject, both Ortiz and Pedroia extended their hitting streaks to 12 games Saturday, giving them the longest active streak in the majors.
A Red Sox has held at least a share of baseball’s longest hitting streak every day since May 3.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP