The Red Sox are 97-63 and one win (or one Oakland loss) away from clinching the best record in all of baseball after smashing the Orioles 12-3 in Baltimore.
Scott Feldman's Orioles career has been hit-and-miss so far. He's produced strong start after strong start, but every once-in-a-while, a brick wall comes out of nowhere. And after tonight, well, he's got to be looking forward to getting out of the AL East and away from the Red Sox, who really just have his number. A complete disaster of a first inning saw Jacoby ELlsbury ground out, and then four straight batters smack hard hits all over the park against him. Dustin Pedroia shot a single to left, David Ortiz hit a line-hugging drive to right, Mike Napoli put up a deep double in his first at bat in a week, and then Daniel Nava put a very smooth swing on an inside curveball. Nick Markakis watched it leave, and just like that, 4-0.
It got worse. Jonny Gomes walked and Stephen Drew found the right field corner for his eighth triple. 5-0.
The second was better. Much better! Except not really. Three straight hard-hit outs, with Markakis diving to rob Ortiz to end the inning, and Feldman was into the third with a scoreless inning, but no sign of real improvement. Sure enough, after striking out Mike Napoli, Feldman gave up singles to Nava and Gomes, and then a long fly ball to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, which seemed to bounce off the top of the wall in right. It was called a homer at first, changed to a double on review (setting a Red Sox record for catchers with 40 of them on the season), but still scored a run and set Stephen Drew up for a two-run single of his own. 8-0.
Clay Buchholz, meanwhile, had some positives, some negatives. On the negative side of things: a two-run homer from Adam Jones to dead center that cut the lead to 8-2 in the bottom of the third, a solo shot from Chris Davis in the sixth, and some generally diminished velocity. On the positive side: seven innings of three-run ball, and zero walks with four strikeouts where those numbers had been looking questionable in his last two outings.
What more do you need from a Red Sox win? How about David Ortiz going opposite field for homer the thirtieth, driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia on base via walks. How about Xander Bogaerts pinch-hitting for Drew vs. a left-handed pitcher and getting a ringing single? How about Jonny Gomes making it a three-homer night for the Red Sox in the ninth?
All told, a great way to trim the magic number to one. If the Mariners don't seem to be doing their part tonight, well, that just means the Sox will have to win another.
Read more Red Sox:
- The bobblehead bubble
- Will Middlebrooks' two-homer night shows off his successful new approach
- What to do with Brandon Workman?
- Daniel Nava is no fluke
- Clay Buchholz vs. Rob Gronkowski: A character study