With the whole lineup intact for the first time in 2014, the Boston Red Sox quickly erased the five-error, 14-5 thrashing at the hands of the Yankees on Thursday by jumping all over the Blue Jays for season highs in runs and hits. Boston plated eight runs while raking 16 hits, handing Mark Buehrle his first loss of the season after starting 4-0. The Red Sox worked six walks and slugged eight extra-base hits as well in the team’s best all-around performance of the season. To cap things off, they got seven innings of one-run ball from Jake Peavy and a spotless defensive performance behind him.
The biggest contributions came from the two youngsters at the bottom of the order. Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in his first game back from the disabled list due to a strained calf. Boston utilized a revolving door of band-aids to fill in while he was gone with mostly poor results from Jonathan Herrera, Ryan Roberts and Brock Holt. The right-handed power of Middlebrooks is a welcome sight and significantly lengthens the Red Sox lineup. Batting ninth, rookie center-fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. had arguably his best career game so far by going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, two runs scored, a walk, an RBI and a stolen base. He iced the cake by playing his usual rangy and fantastic center field.
Peavy also made things easy on the bullpen, a unit that has been overworked of late due to horrendous starts from Felix Doubront, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. He breezed through the first five innings and allowed the Red Sox to do something they haven’t done much so far in an uninspiring season: get out to an early lead. Boston delivered a knockout punch to Buehrle in the top of the sixth, who exited with his Jays down 7-0.
“We executed on all sides of the ball tonight,” Peavy said according to ESPN. “We need to put those efforts together consistently now.”
Peavy hit the nail on the head when he said that. Boston has yet to put together a winning streak of even three games. The presence of Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino returning to the lineup cannot be understated. Those two are proven threats at the plate and eliminate two holes in the lineup that the Red Sox had been sporting at the bottom of the order. Jacoby Ellsbury’s departure is not something one man can alleviate, but big production out of Middlebrooks and Bradley at the bottom of the order makes this team monumentally more dangerous since the lineup then flips over with Dustin Pedroia now settling into the leadoff role.
The Red Sox had a well-needed offensive outburst on Friday and are hoping the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre coupled with the returns to health of Victorino and Middlebrooks can be the jump-start this team desperately needed. Consistency has been the biggest issue with the Red Sox thus far, so fans have little reason to start preparing for a repeat title just yet. That being said, the big win was a big step in the right direction.
Commentary by Justin Hussong, Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers