BOSTON — The Red Sox piled on the Minnesota Twins on Thursday to the tune of 13 runs, and the first four hitters in Boston’s lineup drove in nearly 70 percent of those runs.
Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz went a combined 14-for-19 (.737) with 10 runs, nine RBIs, two home runs and four doubles among them. Needless to say, Red Sox manager John Farrell was pretty pleased with what he saw.
“The top half of the lineup was outstanding,” Farrell said after the 13-2 win. “(Pedroia), five hits, you don?t see very often. Mookie, as I mentioned, the way he?s going right now — the month of July has been a very good offensive month as we?ve kind of gotten past that stretch in June. But just great to see the number of quality at-bats.”
Pedroia didn’t hit any bombs like Ortiz and Betts did — Betts’ came on the very first pitch of the game — but he stole the show by going 5-for-5.
“Any time you can get two (hits), I think it?s a good day, but he got five,” Betts said. “That just shows how concentrated he was and locked in for the day, and it just shows what?s coming.”
It’s not clear what Betts thinks is coming, but with the Red Sox having won nine of their last 10 games and being back on top in the American League East, we might have a pretty good guess.
Here are some more notes from Thursday’s win.
— Ortiz hit his 24th home run, a two-run blast to center field, in the eighth inning, bringing his RBI total up to 79, the most for a Major League Baseball player age 40 or older since Edgar Martinez had 98 in 2003. He also has managed to collect all those RBIs in just 87 games, something that’s impressing everyone, including his manager.
“Some might say, ?Why?s he not starting the other games?,? Farrell said of Ortiz. “He might have 85 RBIs. But the consistency to the at-bats, the hard hit is really mind-boggling at this point in the season to see right from the … last swing at spring training. It hasn?t stopped. Extra-base hits, quality at-bats, on base seemingly a couple times every single night. You don?t want this run to end.”
— Betts’ first-pitch homer might not have happened if it wasn’t for third baseman Travis Shaw. The right fielder said it was the first time he’s swung at the first pitch all season and explained why.
“I think I did it six times last year,” Betts said. “I was 0-for-6, so I figured I might as well not do it anymore. Travis actually convinced me to try it again.”
Betts (3-for-5) also has an MLB-leading 42 multi-hit games and his 19 home runs on the season are the most by a Red Sox hitter age 23 or younger since Nomar Garciaparra hit 30 in 1997.
— Farrell became the 11th Red Sox manager to collect 300 wins in Boston. He deferred the credit to the people around him.
“It means I?ve been fortunate to be in a position with a lot of really good players and work with a lot of really quality people,” Farrell said of the milestone.
— Dustin Pedroia became the first Red Sox to go 5-for-5 since, well, Dustin Pedroia did it on June 24, 2010, against the Colorado Rockies.
— Steven Wright had a great outing, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits with a career-high nine strikeouts and only one walk over eight innings. It’s a stat line you don’t often see from a knuckleballer and one he admitted he doesn’t aim for.
“For me, I just try to throw quality knuckleballs,” Wright said. “I don?t worry about swing-and-misses. I?d rather have more contact than swing-and-misses because the swing-and-misses will drive the pitch count up.”
— Farrell said the Red Sox are more concerned about about Joe Kelly seeing game action in Triple-A Pawtucket rather than rushing him back to Boston, so it might be a while before we see the right-hander coming out of the bullpen. If starters can work deep into games like Wright did Thursday, the Red Sox won’t be starving for relievers, allowing more time for Kelly to work on his approach.
“From all the reports and talking to the staff, it?s been his ability to locate his fastball right coming into a ballgame rather than working into the rhythm of the game,” Farrell said of Kelly before the Red Sox and Twins faced off. “And I think somewhat of being a help to that has been just pitching out of the stretch. Less movement, less potential misdirection from a stride direction standpoint. It?s a simplified approach, and he?s executing it.”
— Blake Swihart was making a lot of progress rehabbing his sprained left ankle, but some pain during his groundwork is setting him back a bit.
“As he?s ramped up the intensity and different cuts, his ankle?s starting to talk back to him a little bit here,” Farrell said before Thursday’s game. “So, much like it was when he started to initiate some movement then got into a pretty good stretch where he was making good gains on it, as that intensity?s picked up, he?s going through a phase now where he?s got to quiet some things down.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images