It's been a rough season for the Red Sox, but they went into Friday night's game with a somber air for reasons entirely unrelated to their record. Perhaps they went in with a different sort of motivation as well. It's about the only explanation I can think of for this team producing a dominant performance like they did Friday, dismantling the Mariners 15-1 in Fenway.
The first inning saw Kyle Seager hit a one-out homer off of Joe Kelly, and instant replay take a possible infield hit away from Mookie Betts. And that's about all that went right for the Mariners tonight. Xander Bogaerts drew a two out walk, David Ortiz doubled him home, and Rusney Castillo went opposite field off Mike Montgomery, dropping a fly ball into the bullpen to make it 3-1 for Boston.
Montgomery managed a scoreless second, but quickly fell apart in the third once and for all. This time Ortiz and Castillo would set the table, hitting back-to-back one out singles to give Pablo Sandoval a chance to add to the lead. The third baseman capitalized with a double into the gap in left-center that got to the wall, allowing both baserunners to score. Behind him, Travis Shaw crushed a high fastball to right for the second bullpen homer of the night, making it 7-1. Montgomery would give up two more singles before being pulled for David Rollins, who quickly allowed a triple to Brock Holt, driving in another pair of runs and leaving the Red Sox up by eight.
The Sox slowed down from there, but they didn't stop. Mookie Betts finally got on the board with the second triple of the game in the fifth, driving in Ryan Hanigan from first, and was driven in by Brock Holt. Pablo Sandoval's second double of the game was good for a twelfth Red Sox run in the sixth, as was Jackie Bradley Jr.'s first. The Sox would score again in the seventh, and in the eighth Travis Shaw hit his second home run of the night to complete the 15-run output.
It wasn't just offense, though. Joe Kelly brushed off the early homer, and proceeded to have the best start we've seen out of him in months, not fading at all as he faced the Mariners a second time on the night. He would finish with just that one earned run in six innings of ball, finishing his outing with strikeouts of Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith in a scoreless sixth.
It didn't hurt that the Sox were playing exceptional defense. Mookie Betts kept Kelly's game from perhaps getting out of hand with an extraordinary third-inning catch at the wall in left-center to save a run, and Jackie Bradley denied Seager a second shot in the eighth, looking almost lackadaisical in ranging all the way back to the wall in right field. Even Fenway's cavernous right field looks too small when Bradley's the one patrolling it.
Unfortunately, it was not a flawless game, and not just for that one homer. Rusney Castillo would leave the game after fouling a ball off his foot, and is in for X-Rays. An ugly turn of events at the wrong time, as Castillo has been tearing the cover off the ball of late, with his performances doing a good job of cementing his spot in Boston's future plans.
Still, this was a different team tonight. And if the game on the field seems unimportant in light of the situation off of it, at least this one thing went right in Boston.