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Red Sox 9, Dodgers 0: That's more like it

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It's been a while since the Red Sox have had a nice easy win like this.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It's really been a struggle for the Red Sox of late. Every win taken by fighting tooth-and-nail, and those too few and far between.

Tonight it was anything but. Despite coming up against the best competition they've seen in a while in the Dodgers, who came into the game with the slightly better record, the Red Sox were the only team that looked like a contender here, breezing past on the back of a complete game shutout from Steven Wright, a trio of homers, and some sloppy play from Los Angeles.

As tends to be the case with complete game shutouts, there wasn't really much feeling of danger in this one for the Red Sox, at least not once they got on the board. And that did not take long, despite Dustin Pedroia managing to ground into yet another double play in the first. The second would see the Sox take the lead when Sandy Leon drove in Hanley Ramirez with a sacrifice fly after the first baseman led off the frame with a walk. In the third, Mookie Betts was not fooled by a changeup that floated invitingly over the outside part of the plate, hooking it to left on a line which just kind of kept on going until it got over the wall.

For those keeping track, that's 23 homers for Betts. He is 23, 5'9", a pro bowler in his spare time, and can dunk. And looking at that description I'm almost convinced I'm making him up.

But enough Mookie. We need to get back to the Greatest Hitter of All Time* in Sandy Leon, who took the Red Sox' 2-0 lead and doubled it in the fourth, cleaning out an inside cutter and blasting it 15 rows deep past the left field foul pole with Aaron Hill on base to make it 4-0.

Meanwhile, Steven Wright was doing his thing for the first time in a while. His recent performances have been a bit of an elephant in the room, with his ERA spiking up from 2.01 towards the end up June all the way up to 3.20. Tonight, though, the knuckleball was dancing as beautifully as you could hope. The Dodgers got a full-count double from Justin Turner with two outs in the first, then...nothing. He struck out the side in the second, gave up all of a leadoff walk in the third, and then retired the Dodgers 1-2-3...4-5-6...7-8-9...and so on and so forth all the way through the end of the seventh.

By that point, the only real concern for the Sox lay in one of those rather dramatic blow-ups that have affected their team a bit too often of late. And a blow-up there certainly was, but not on Boston's half. In the top of the eighth, the Red Sox dealt the killing blow and then some. Travis Shaw got things started, smacking the second pitch of the inning out on a line to right for the third homer of the night. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed up with singles, with Bradley taking second as the throw went to third trying to catch Bogaerts. That led the Dodgers to intentionally walk Aaron Hill (with a righty on the mound...yeah, not sure about that one) to bring Leon back up to bat. The Greatest Hitter of All Time*produced perhaps the longest single of all time, brushing the wall in center field with a long fly ball that Joc Pederson got back in so fast that nobody could advance more than one base. But if the Sox weren't able to take full advantage of his hit, the Dodgers made up for it with Chase Utley completely botching a ground ball from Brock Holt to bring two more runs in. Mookie Betts shot a single into right for his third hit of the night after Wright struck out to make it 9-0 before the inning finally ended.

The Dodgers did finally get another couple of baserunners in the eighth on singles from Yasmani Grandal and Enrique Hernandez, but Wright was still able to keep them from scoring, and went back to clean work with a 1-2-3 ninth, getting two infield flies and a K to end things.

If there's imperfection to be found, it's in the fact that Dustin Pedroia had to leave the game an inning after fouling a ball off his leg. The Sox say it's just a "contusion," and Pedroia seems to not be in terrible shape, but given his propensity for playing through anything shy of amputation, it's hard to be too confident.

Other than that though, great pitching, plenty of runs, and Sandy Leon actually looked pretty damn good handling the knuckleball. A welcome change-of-pace from the Red Sox.

*As judged by a panel of Twitter meme experts and Sandy's mother.