It only took about a third of the season, but the Boston Red Sox finally have their first three-game winning streak of the year following a 4-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night. The Red Sox got a strong performance from John Lackey after a stretch of poor outings by their starting rotation, and the offense continued to deliver timely hits in big spots. It was Boston’s third consecutive win over Atlanta, and the Sox will go for the sweep on Thursday evening at Fenway Park after taking the first two down at Turner Field earlier in the week. The victory was also Boston’s first shutout of the year.
Lackey went 6-1/3 innings and recorded nine strikeouts with no walks to earn his sixth victory of the year, the most on the team. The offensive resurgence continued behind 12 hits and five walks, led by two hits, an RBI and two runs scored by Jonny Gomes who earned another start in left field. Since Shane Victorino went down with another hamstring injury, incumbent outfielders Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Gomes have all stepped up to ease the pain. The Red Sox outfield was a big problem early on with every member struggling to hit, but management has begun to loosen the leash on Sizemore a bit. He has played six days in a row and has four extra base hits and a stolen base in his past four contests. Bradley has delivered a couple of big RBI hits the past couple of games as well and may finally be starting to come around, a welcome sight that would lengthen the lineup.
A.J. Pierzynski has extended his hitting streak to seven games, and Xander Bogaerts continues to get more and more comfortable batting second. The 21-year-old shortstop collected three more hits on Wednesday and now has 17 hits in his last 43 at-bats. The offense as a whole has been a huge reason behind the brief turnaround, and it must continue in the future with the uncertainty of the starting rotation. The Red Sox have just two reliable starters at the moment with Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront hitting the disabled list and Jake Peavy losing his touch over his past few starts.
What this team appears to be doing is showing a competitive fire similar to the one it had last season when the World Series was brought back to Boston. Finishing off a four-game sweep of the Braves would go a long way towards putting that 10-game losing streak deep into their distant memory. Every win may have only a small impact on the win-loss column, but what the Red Sox really need to do is build up some momentum.
A three-game winning streak is a small victory for a team so accustomed to success, but it could not have come at a better time for the Red Sox. The brawl in the finale of the Tampa Bay Rays series really may have given this team the spark it needed. Whatever it takes, Boston is starting to look more and more like the team they are supposed to be.
Commentary by Justin Hussong
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Boston Red Sox