It is really fun watching this Red Sox team right now. They are rolling in every sense of the word (except for the drug sense, I guess) and are winning in every way possible. They’ve blown teams out, held on to leads, come from behind and toughed it out in close contests. They are getting contributions from up and down the lineup as well as from their starter on just about every night. Things aren’t going to stay quite this good forever — if it does, that World Series parade is going to be dope — but it’s wildly enjoyable while it lasts.
For so much of this season, the Red Sox offense has been frustrating to watch. There were many reasons for the lackluster performance, but a big part of it was an utter lack of production from the bottom of the lineup. The top of the order was getting on base at a high clip, but the bottom-third of the order was a black hole and stranded runners left and right. That trend is starting to change, and the bottom half of the lineup picked up the top half in this Independence Day blowout. What made it even more impressive was that it came against Yu Darvish, one of the top arms in all of baseball. In total, the top three batters in the Red Sox lineup went 1-16 while the bottom four went 14-19.
The effort was a well-balanced one, but Andrew Benintendi rose above the rest of the team and stood out as the night’s best performer. That’s been a recent trend with this team, having one player just put on a crazy-good performance. Mookie Betts had eight RBI a couple days ago, and Dustin Pedroia was phenomenal on Monday at the plate and in the field. On Tuesday, it was Benintendi’s turn. He came through with a hit in the first inning with a runner in scoring position to knock in the first run of the game and knocked in a total of five runs on the day. Part of that was because of a home run he crushed off Darvish to break the game open, extending the lead from four to seven. It wasn’t just the bat, either. Benintendi also made an incredible catch out in left field before hitting that home run to save at least one run from crossing the plate.
AMERICA'S BENINTENDI WITH A SENSATIONAL CATCH! NAPOLI CAN'T BELIEVE IT! MY BEER CAN'T BELIEVE IT! pic.twitter.com/jRWZWtJkGm— Red (@SurvivingGrady) July 5, 2017
He decided to rub it in later in the game, too, when he hit a fly ball down the left field line that just barely made it over the wall for his second dinger of the night.
Beyond Benintendi, the Red Sox also got multiple hits from Jackie Bradley, Christian Vazquez and Tzu-Wei Lin. When they are getting production from those players, particularly the last two, it is going to be a scary proposition for the opposing starter. This time, it led to Darvish’s worst career start, at least according to Game Score.
Meanwhile, David Price was on the bump for the Red Sox and there were some concerns about the lefty heading in given his previous performances in Texas and in extreme heat. He put those concerns to rest with one of his two best starts of the season and completely shut down this Rangers lineup over six innings of work. A little more efficiency would have been nice as he worked into some deep counts, particularly early in the game, but complaining about that is simply picking nits.
No, Price was phenomenal in this game and his command was as strong as it’s been all season long. He was pumping his fastball in the 95-96 range on a consistent basis and was painting corners with both that and his two-seamer. The Rangers offense never really stood a chance, and he finished his six shutout innings with nine strikeouts and just two walks.
One of those walks probably shouldn’t have happened, either. After finishing off the sixth inning with just over 100 pitches, John Farrell decided to send his starter back out for the seventh. I’m not sure how long he was planning to leave him back in, but it seemed like a strange decision to make in a blowout even considering that they had played a few extra frames the night before. As it turned out, he wouldn’t last very long as he walked the first batter on four pitches and was taken out by a trainer after that. It didn’t appear to be a serious injury, for what it’s worth, but rather something related to his blister/fingernail problems. Either way, this was a big outing from Price.
Blaine Boyer came in after Price and continued his quietly and surprisingly solid run in Boston’s bullpen. In this one he did allow the three runs on a home run to Mike Napoli but also struck out six Rangers.
It was a big day for the Red Sox overall, too. On America’s day, they won their sixth in a row, eighth in their last nine games and extended their lead in the division to four. They’re firing on all cylinders right now, and they’ll turn to Doug Fister on Tuesday as they try to finish off a sweep of the Rangers.