Baseball is a game where even the best teams lose some 40% of their games. That win percentage is better against bad teams, but it's a sport where talent only proves out over longer sample sizes. This isn't football where 16 ames are enough to say who should go to the postseason, and if 16 games can't tell the tale, then certainly one can't either. That's why so often we'll see an ace face a Quadruple-A starter and come up short. Why the guy hitting .200 will bloop a single off an elite closer to tie the game with two outs in the ninth. There's too much variability and uncertainty to predict how any game will go be it 6 games into the season or, indeed, 60.
All that? That's why games like this are so damn comforting. The Red Sox walloped the Twins 8-1 tonight, and they did so exactly the way you might have expected them to.
On the mound, the Red Sox had Stephen Wright, who has basically been their ace this season. He pitched like one, more-or-less. He got a bit of help from Christian Vazquez, gunning down Robbie Grossman in what would ultimately be a three-single, zero-run fourth for the Twins. He ran into some more trouble in the fifth, as the Twins loaded the bases with two outs for Joe Mauer before Wright induced an easy comebacker for the out. And in the eighth, the Twins would manage to bring a run home.
But that was their only run of the game, and it came because Hanley Ramirez' flipped throw to Wright on a ground ball was unnecessarily tricky, and just past the knuckleballer's reach. Other than that, Wright held Minnesota quiet, striking out six, and leaving the game as the American League's ERA leader a full two months into the season.
At the plate, the Red Sox had a bit of a rough time early. With a lineup like this one, it's pretty hard to keep them completely quiet, and both Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts made themselves known. But Tyler Duffy does have a couple good pitches, and that was enough to keep the Sox quiet through four, nearly two full times through the lineup.
But if two pitches might get you through the order twice, it's not going to suffice for the third time through, at least not unless those pitches are simply otherworldly. And Duffy's fastball - curveball combo is not, and the changeup is not good enough to help. The fifth inning rally started innocuously enough, with a Chris Young K and an infield single from Christian Vazquez. But once the lineup turned over, it started to get louder.Dustin Pedroia took a curve, then jumped on a second for a ringing single, and when Duffy tried to get a second straight fastball past Bogaerts, the shortstop left Byron Buxton watching as the ball sailed into the bullpen for Xander's seventh homer of the year.
David Ortiz got in on the action with a double before the inning ended, but the Sox had more than one inning in them. Duffy returned for the sixth, and promptly surrendered a wall ball double to Jackie Bradley Jr., who took third on a Travis Shaw single, and scored on a seeing-eye single from Christian Vazquez that may have brushed the gloves of both Eduardo Nunez and Trevor Plouffe. Dustin Pedroia would continue his renaissance season with his third hit of the night, doubling home Shaw, and Bogaerts went ahead and picked up his fourth with an RBI single to left to make it 6-0.
The Sox put up another pair in the ninth, with Jackie Bradley Jr. picking up his fifth triple of the year, but that was pretty much just garbage time. Which, really, is what the Sox had to hope to be doing tonight. Coasting through the last few innings with a big lead. Treading water against good teams can be discouraging, but it's also not terribly unlikely. They have to win games like this, and win them convincingly. And Friday night, they very much did.