On the day where Pedro Martinez assumed his rightful place in the Hall of Fame, his former teammate David Ortiz was hard at work on his case for election once he's finally called it a career. Going deep twice, Ortiz drove in seven runs Sunday night, passing Al Kaline, Rogers Hornsby, and Harmon Killebrew on the all-time RBI list.
It's an offensive night that the Sox have apparently been saving for the rest of the second half, as their eleven runs came just five short of matching their post-break total to this point. But it didn't exactly start out that way, with the first third of the game seeing each team struggle to break through.
Even without runs scoring, it was a pretty touch-and-go affair for Shane Greene. The red sox were picking up plenty of early baserunners, but couldn't get that last push to score them. But if he was struggling while Eduardo Rodriguez was cruising in the first couple frames, Rodriguez came the closest to breaking of the two come the third, when he allowed a leadoff double to James McCann. Had Xander Bogaerts not got him at third trying to advance on a ground ball from Jose Iglesias, effectively moving the runner back a base, Rodriguez would have allowed the first run of the game when he bounced a throw past Mike Napoli on a Rajai Davis dribbler.
Instead, Rodriguez just had to get Ian Kinsler to ground out back to the mound--this time Boston's young lefty was able to complete the throw--and the inning was over. That led into a much easier fourth inning for Rodriguez, and the first run of the game for the Red Sox, with Hanley Ramirez singling and scoring on a two-out double down the right field line from Blake Swihart.
Given the lead, Rodriguez couldn't produce a shutdown inning, allowing a homer to Nick Castellanos to even the score. But if Greene had been approaching disaster for the first four innings, he stepped over that line in the fifth. After a pair of singles from Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts to lead off the inning, David Ortiz demolished a slider that ended up middle-middle without much break, putting the Red Sox up 4-1 with a three-run shot into the bleacher seats.
Doubles from Hanley Ramirez and Mike Napoli would make it 5-1 before the inning was over, and this time Rodriguez was able to provide that shutdown inning, striking out Rajai Davis in a 1-2-3 sixth. The bottom of the inning proved familiar territory for the Sox, with the 2 and 3 men hitting singles to start (Jemile Weeks taking Brock Holt's place due to knee tightness) and David Ortiz opening the scoring once again, albeit with just a single this time around. Reliever Kyle Ryan would at least manage to get the next two batters, but Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli kept the inning going with a pair of singles to make it a 7-1 blowout.
Still the Red Sox were not done. Eduardo Rodriguez faced some small danger, allowing a walk and single to start the seventh before striking out Nick Castellanos and getting James McCann to hit into a double play, ending his night with seven excellent innings of one-run ball. Then in the bottom David Ortiz struck again, this time going to the opposite field with his second three-run shot of the night, this one into the Monster seats in left-center.
It's nice to be reminded that the Red Sox can have days like this. It's nice to see David Ortiz doing what he can to stave off uncomfortable questions for yet another year. And it's nice to see Eduardo Rodriguez back at his best--a level so impressive that it makes it hard to believe his occasional disasters don't have some unusual explanation like the pitch-tipping issues that first cropped up against Baltimore. The nights like these are few and far between, but they're necessary relief in the midst of a long, unfortunate season.