After a couple of really awful games from the offense, the Red Sox finally managed to produce some runs and, lo-and-behold, walked away Tuesday night with a win and a share of first place.
It took them until the fourth for the Red Sox to make anything happen, meaning their “streak” extended to 21 innings of one-run ball before they actually managed to get going again. But when the runs started coming, they did so in bunches. Only a couple bunches, granted, but bunches all the same.
The early innings had seen the Red Sox at least produce some threats, if not cash in on any of them. In the second, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Chris Young had set up Yoan Moncada with two runners in scoring position and one out, needing just a productive out to score the opening run of the game. Instead, Moncada produced the first of his four strikeouts on the night (seven straight!), leaving Bradley on third for Clay Buchholz who—well, you can guess. Then, in the third, with runners at first and second for Hanley Ramirez, the first baseman hit a sharp ground ball, but directly to Yangervis Solarte at third, where he could step on the bag and fire across the diamond to end the threat.
Finally, though, having been left on base in the second and denied the opportunity in the third, Boston’s left and center fielder took matters into their own hands. Sandy Leon would set Bradley up by bunting into the vacated left side of the infield for a hit, but rather than try to simply keep the lineup moving, Bradley doubled Boston’s run total from the last couple games with one swing, uncorking a two-run shot well over the right field wall on a line. Right behind him, Young managed to get far enough under a low fastball to bounce it off of and past the top of the left field wall for a second straight homer to make it 3-0.
After Clay Buchholz gave a run back in the bottom of the inning, the Red Sox would not prove content with the shrinking lead. This time it was Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts on base, and Hanley hit the ball a little harder and a little higher to get it over the infield and into left for an RBI single. After the Padres elected to walk Bradley to load the bases with one down, Chris Young was able to beat out a double play ball, letting Betts come in to score and make it 5-1.
Typically the Red Sox offense putting on a moderate display like this would warrant relatively little attention. But after a zero and a one against at least one really awful opponent (seriously, Edwin Jackson! In 2016!), the Sox looking competent at the plate once more stole the spotlight.
And, really, that’s kind of a shame, because Clay Buchholz was very much deserving of it. He got in some early trouble when a two-out rally from the Padres put two men in scoring position in the first. But a pop-out spared him any damage there, and he followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. The Padres would get their one run back in the fourth when Ryan Schimpf took a changeup deep to right. But from there, Buchholz locked in through the start of the seventh. There, a couple ground balls barely made their way into right for singles, but even then Buchholz batted back, striking out Jon Jay and Travis Jankowksi to get within one out of escaping.
Buchholz might well have finished the inning with just 87 pitches on his arm, but likely the Red Sox were aiming to take it easy on him after the brief transition back to the bullpen, and perhaps had a reasonably tight pitch count on his arm. One way or another, Buchholz was lifted for Matt Barnes, who got the Sox that final out, and handed the ball off to Fernando Abad and Joe Kelly who, of all things, got the Sox through two more scoreless innings, with Kelly even having to work around Xander Bogaerts completely missing second base on what would’ve been an easy double play otherwise.
All told, a solid performance to get the Sox back into first. Buchholz re-affirmed the idea that he’s in a place where he can competently replace Steven Wright at the moment. The Red Sox got the scoreless monkey off their back. And Chris Young even finally got his photo moment in the outfield, which is probably the most exciting news of all.