This was a nice and easy win for the Red Sox, which is exactly what the doctor ordered to start a potentially lopsided series coming off a battle in Houston. Boston got a huge start from Steven Wright in his new role as a starter, and they got an all-around performance from the offense that honestly should have been better than it was. We won’t complain, though, because it was a 6-0 win from the team with the best record in baseball. That’s good enough for me.
This game was the start of a six-game homestand that includes series against the Tigers and the White Sox. In other words, this is a time to pad the record a bit before a long road trip that includes a trek out to Seattle. They didn’t need to start off with a win — they’d have had five games to recover from a loss — but it sure would have been nice. Well, they didn’t disappoint and they didn’t really make it too close either. Wright came in for what was originally just a spot start but eventually turned into his first outing as a new member of the rotation, and he looked great after a rough start. The offense, meanwhile, got off to a hot start and never really took their foot off the gas against a clearly overmatched Tigers pitching staff. It was a fun day, is what I’m saying.
We’ll start with Wright, because to me that was really the story of this game despite the offensive attack being so relentless. The Red Sox have obviously been plenty effective this year despite Drew Pomeranz being so ineffective in the rotation, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use more consistency from that spot in the rotation. It’s tough to expect too much consistency from a knuckleballer, but Wright was that kind of guy when he was healthy in 2016. He got off to a really rough and worrisome start in this game, but then got in a major groove and easily made his way through the Tigers lineup.
As I said, though, the first inning was tough for Wright. In fact, if it wasn’t for some help from his defense it’s not too difficult to envision this start and possibly this entire game going very differently for the knuckleballer. He kicked things off by allowing a walk to Leonys Martin, and then followed that up by serving up a hittable pitch to Nicholas Castellanos. The Tigers outfielder smashed one off the Monster in left-center field, and Martin tried to take advantage and score the early run. Instead, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez combined for a perfect relay to fun down the runner at the plate and keep the game scoreless. It was a close play at the plate and Bogaerts in particular impressed here, making a perfect throw on the fly from shallow center field to get the out. Wright recovered after allowing another walk in the next at bat, inducing a pop out before ending the threat and stranding two runners with a big strikeout.
From there, as I alluded to, it was pure domination. The Tigers did get a four-pitch walk to start the second, which served as a bit of a red flag, but three straight groundouts alleviated those concerns. Detroit would get another baserunner in the second on a one-out single, but that was quickly eliminated on a big inning-ending double play. From there, Wright had a 1-2-3 fourth, followed by a 1-2-3 fifth, followed by a 1-2-3 sixth, followed by a 1-2-3 seventh. That ended Wright’s outing — one that concluded with 13 consecutive outs — and he wound up with seven shutout innings on two hits, three walks and six strikeouts. Not a bad showing.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense were going up against an inexperience pitcher in Artie Lewicki, and he was just totally overmatched. The young righty doesn’t have particularly impressive stuff, so if he doesn’t have perfect command a lineup like the Red Sox will destroy him. They destroyed him, and it really should have been even worse.
Boston didn’t waste too much time getting on the board as Benintendi led off with a single. He’d then steal second base — on a play in which he should have been out but snuck in thanks to a great swim-move slide — but it wouldn’t matter what base he occupied. J.D. Martinez came up next, and he does what he does. Lewicki threw him a low-90s fastball right down the middle of the strike zone and, well, you don’t want to do that against Martinez. The Red Sox slugger demolished it out to left-center field for his 20th dinger of the year, and the Sox had a 2-0 lead.
After a couple of scoreless innings in the second and third, Boston really threatened to break the game open in the fourth. That inning started with a hard-hit grounder by Martinez that looked like an out but ended up being a two-base error. The ball was hit so hard that Jeimer Candelario — who fielded the ball at third — had to leave the game with an injured hand. Back-to-back singles from Mitch Moreland and Eduardo Núñez would plate another run for Boston, and they’d load the bases on a Brock Holt walk. Rafael Devers did knock in the run with nobody outs, but he didn’t get credit for an RBI because it was on a double play. Boston would eventually reload the bases on a pair of walks that ended Lewicki’s nights, but they’d be stranded there.
Boston would have a similar fifth inning in which the game was indeed broken open. Xander Bogaerts came up to lead off the inning, and he got a fastball belt-high on the outer half and he smoked it the other way into the Red Sox bullpen for a solo shot. After that, three consecutive singles gave the Red Sox another bases loaded, nobody out situation. Once again, they got a ground ball. This time only one out was recorded, however, and a run scored to extend the lead to 6-0. That was all they’d get in the inning despite re-loading the bases yet again.
After Wright was taken out, Hector Velazquez came in out of the bullpen for the eighth. He did allow the Tigers to get their first baserunner since the third on a single, but that was all they’d manage.
The ninth belonged to Brandon Workman, making his first major-league appearance of 2018. He didn’t look like he wasn’t used to the stage, coming through with an easy 1-2-3 inning to end the game. Three wins in a row for the Sox.
The Red Sox will look to extend their current win streak to four games on Wednesday in the second game of this series. They’ll be sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to take on Blaine Hardy, with first pitch coming at 7:10 PM ET.