If only the Red Sox could face the Braves every day. It was another one-sided contest Wednesday night behind Dustin Pedroia and Steven Wright, with the Red Sox pulling away early and never looking back.
The first inning has been Boston's territory all year, and they again managed to produce a crooked number, and there really wasn't much more to it than Bud Norris not being a very good pitcher. Xander Bogaerts singled and scored on David Ortiz' first double of the night--there would be more to come--and then Hanley Ramirez knocked Ortiz in with a bit of a bloop into right to give the Sox the early 2-0 lead.
As good as the Sox have been in the first, it's often proven the problem inning for Steven Wright. But this time, thanks in part due to a spectacular diving catch from Jackie Bradley Jr., he made his way into the second untouched. And that's where things started to go wrong. For a brief period, Wright's knuckleball stopped knuckling, instead floating into the path of Atlanta bats, leading to three hits and a run for the Braves before he managed to buckle down, strike out Erick Aybar, and finish the frame with a pop-up from Drew Stubbs.
By the time Wright got back to struggling in the very next inning, the game was already an hour old, and more-or-less over. After the warning shot in the first, the Red Sox broke this thing wide open in the second. The first three batters of the inning reached base on a pair of singles and a walk, bringing Dustin pedroia up to bat with the bases loaded and nobody out. The Red Sox have been in this situation before this year, and come away with nothing. This time, Dustin Pedroia got a middle-middle fastball from Bud Norris and got it all done at once, smacking a slicing line drive down the right field line and planting it off the Pesky Pole for a grand slam to put the Sox ahead 6-1 and pretty much seal the deal against a fairly toothless Braves lineup.
Still, there would be one more run for Wright to allow, though this one was less about the pitching, and more about Wright spiking a throw to second base that should have started a double play. Instead, it bounced on its way to Xander Bogaerts, and away from the shortstop to keep the Braves going in the third. They took advantage to the tune of one more (unearned) run, and then that was it. Wright settled in nicely, pitched through the seventh, and once again left Boston's bullpen with relatively little work to do.
That work would be done under very low pressure, too. David Ortiz' third double of the game knocked in a seventh Red Sox run in the fourth inning, and Travis Shaw tracked a changeup low-and-away, and reached out after it to hook it into the gap in right field for an RBI triple to make it 8-2. Much later, Dustin Pedroia would give Boston their ninth run with his second homer of the night after A.J. Pierzynski and Daniel Castro watched a pop foul land between them to prolong the at bat, this time into the Monster seats. The Braves got a couple runs back off of Tommy Layne and Matt Barnes (including their fourth homer of the season), but that came solidly in garbage time, with the Red Sox happy to exchange a couple meaningless runs for meaningful rest for Koji, Tazawa, and Kimbrel.
The Red Sox go for the four-game sweep tomorrow, and then it's time for New York.