The Red Sox are starting to fire on all cylinders, and that’s apparently bad news for the rest of the league if this weekend series in Toronto is any indication. They had everything working for them on Sunday, getting a strong performance from Drew Pomeranz on the mound and contributions from up-and-down the lineup to boot.
We’ll start with the offense, which actually got a bit of a blow just ten minutes before the game when Xander Bogaerts was scratched due to groin tightness. Obviously, the hope is that this was just a minor issue that couldn’t be worked out in time for the game and not a long-term concern. In the short-term, though, the Red Sox did not suffer due to the loss of their shortstop for the day. Deven Marrero stepped into the lineup and Tzu-Wei Lin moved over to shortstop and the team did not miss a beat.
They started their scoring early with a nice two-out rally in the first. Dustin Pedroia, hitting in the three-hole after Bogaerts was scratched, started things off with a walk before stealing second. After Mitch Moreland drew a walk of his own Hanley Ramirez stayed hot with an RBI single to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead before the Blue Jays had a chance to bat. They kept things going in the second when Lin punished a hanging curveball for a one-out triple. He was later knocked in on a two-out base hit from Mookie Betts in what was just the beginning of a monster day for the runner-up in last year’s MVP voting.
After threatening again in the third but failing to capitalize with runners on the corners, the Red Sox got right back to scoring in the fourth. At this point, the lead was just 2-1, but Boston was about to break things open. With the bottom of the order coming up, the Sox turned to a little bit of small ball with Lin and Marrero both reaching on bunt singles. Then, they turned to the long ball when Betts destroyed a fastball right down the heart of the plate over the fence in left-center field. Just like that, the lead was to four.
Two innings later, Marrero got himself another hit — this time it was a normal single on which he swung the bat — and once again he was scored on a Betts home run. This time, Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini made the mistake of throwing a fastball middle-in to the Red Sox star outfielder, and Betts hit a line drive that left the yard in approximately -2.75 seconds. That gave Betts two home runs and six RBI on the day and gave the Red Sox a 7-1 lead.
From here, the Blue Jays turned to their bullpen and the Red Sox offense started to be a bunch of bullies in the seventh inning. They started things off with three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. After Lin struck out for out number one, Boston went double, single, double, double. Just like that, it was 13-1 Red Sox. It’s also worth noting that Betts picked up his seventh and eighth RBI in that rally and Marrero stayed hot with one of the doubles. They weren’t even done, either, as Ramirez finished things off with a monster two-run home run out to left field.
In all, the Red Sox smashed twenty one hits against Blue Jays pitchers. Unsurprisingly, given the high hit total, no one in the Red Sox lineup had an 0-fer on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Drew Pomeranz wasn’t the most dominant we’ve seen him this season, but he was still plenty good enough for a win in Toronto. He relied mostly on his fastball and curveball in this one, throwing only nine cutters according to Baseball Savant. While that is generally bad news for the lefty, it worked out fine for him on Sunday.
Pomeranz started things off with an impressive 1-2-3 first before getting into a little trouble in the second. Already with a 2-0 lead, he started things off by giving up a hard-hit single and a walk, and it looked like things might take a bad turn in the frame. Instead, he followed that up with two fly outs and a strikeout. The two flyouts were deep enough to advance the lead runner and allowed him to score, but allowing just one run in that situation was certainly a positive.
As it turned out, it was the only run he’d allow in the game, although it wasn’t the only time he got into trouble. He allowed two runners in the third — although one of them reached because Andrew Benintendi dropped a routine fly ball — but escaped with a flyout and a double play. Two more reached in the fifth, but once again he got a ground ball when he needed it most and ended things with another double play.
In all, Pomeranz was able to make it through six innings — the third time in his last four starts he’s been able to do that — and allowed just the one run in that time. The stuff certainly wasn’t overpowering, and his three strikeouts was his second-lowest K total of the season, but he allowed a ton of weak contact all day and came up with big outs when he needed them the most. His progression this season continues to be one of the most important stories for the 2017 Red Sox.
With the blowout in tact, Fernando Abad came out for the three-inning save and allowed only one baserunner in mop-up duty.
So, everything is clicking for the Red Sox right now as they finish off their sweep of the Blue Jays. They are now winners of six of their last seven and will look to keep the good times rolling as they travel to Texas for a three-game set against the Rangers.