On a night which saw the Red Sox destroy a good pitcher and lineup to the tune of 13-2, there's obviously plenty of competition for top billing in the rout. But there's no question about who shone brightest tonight. Felix Doubront pitched well, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Will Middlebrooks all had multi-hit games, and Mike Napoli hit a home run that grounded flights at Logan. But Shane Victorino is the man who took Tuesday night's game and made it his own.
His contribution started in the first, walking and scoring the first run on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly. With men on first-and-second, it was a slightly disappointing payout from a promising inning, but it would keep the Sox ahead until the third. There, the Felix Doubront who had been combining strikeouts and efficiency in exciting fashion would take a brief hiatus, loading the bases with zero outs and then allowing two runs to come home. To be fair, one of those runs was the result of this travesty (via the excellent Brooks Baseball), but it was not a pretty inning no matter how you look at it.
But maybe Felix just had to be bad for a little bit to make Victorino look even better. It certainly made him the hero when, with Will Middlebrooks on first and one down in the third, he cranked a 3-1 fastball into the front row of the Monster seats on a line, putting the Red Sox back up by a run.
Shane's next big moment would be less dramatic thanks largely to a five-run bottom of the fourth, featuring Napoli's mammoth shot, a bases loaded ground-rule double by Dustin Pedroia to right field which erased bad feelings from a baserunning gaffe earlier in the inning, and another bases loaded double by Jonny Gomes which wasn't too far off being a grand slam to dead center.
Victorino's contribution to all that was getting hit and, yes, scoring his third run of the night. His appearance in the fifth-inning would not be quite so...passive. With Wei-Yin Chen gone from the game, the Orioles were just trying to get away with some dignity intact, but Troy Patton put a couple men on and gave Victorino one ugly hanger to hit. Victorino's second blast put him at four runs scored, five driven in, and one game completely dominated.
Oh, yeah, he added a two-run double in the seventh.
Sure, all the offense was a little bit unnecessary since, outside of that third-inning blip, Felix Doubront was at the top of his game, striking out seven and having one walked for him by Mr. Bell behind the plate. But he limited the damage there and did plenty enough that the Red Sox would have had a good chance at this one even replacing Shane Victorino with an automatic out.
But it's incredible how close this game might have been had they done so. Shane Victorino had himself a night.