The Red Sox offense hasn’t been the same of late, going through a rut that sparked a handsome genius to suggest shaking things up in the lineup. They did indeed shake things up, and it took approximately five seconds for the impact to be felt. Boston went ballistic for eight runs on three homers in the first inning, and never really looked back from there. Kiké Hernández hit two of the team’s six homers on the night, and in total they had 10 extra-base hits. It was an easy blowout win to start this series against the Blue Jays, and exactly what the doctor ordered.
After something of a deflating weekend in the Bronx, losing two of three to the Yankees while getting a baseball thrown at them by a fan and dropping one game in the pouring rain, the Red Sox were looking to break out of their rut in Buffalo. And more specifically, the offense was looking to shake things up. Alex Cora did indeed shake things up in the Red Sox lineup, and I would say it paid off in a big way. You only see a handful of games like this around the whole league in a given year, but this was one of those nights that was over pretty much as soon as it began. That’s barely an exaggeration.
While the lineup was shaken up, the ever-contentious leadoff spot did not shift, with Kiké Hernández still getting the nod atop the order. He set the tone right away, smacking a line drive into center field. George Springer was playing out there and he took his time getting to the ball, which Hernández noticed and took advantage of to sneak into second base with a hustle double. As it turned out, though, it wouldn’t matter where he was standing. Jarren Duran was penciled into the number two spot for this one, and on a 2-0 pitch we saw his power in the bigs for the first time. He got a fastball up and away from Ross Stripling, and he crushed it the other way for a two-run shot. It was his first career homer, and it put Boston up by two.
But they were hardly stopping there. After Stripling got the first out, he issued a walk, gave up another double, to a struggling J.D. Martinez, who was moved down in the lineup, and then issued a second walk, to a struggling Alex Verdugo, who was moved down in the lineup, to load the bases for a struggling Hunter Renfroe, who was moved down in the lineup. This was a big chance for a slump buster to really break this game open early, and that’s exactly what happened. Renfroe got an 0-2 fastball at the top of the zone and sent it out to left field for a grand slam.
With a 6-0 lead, the Red Sox still weren’t stopping in that first inning. That grand slam had just knocked Stripling out of the game with just one out recorded, and after a second out was recorded Kevin Plawecki kept the inning alive with a base hit. That brought Hernández back around, and he got halfway to the cycle with the team’s third homer of the inning. His two-run blast was a laser out to left field, and it completed a monster eight-run inning for the Red Sox.
As I said, the game was pretty much over as it began, but they did keep pushing in the second as well. Rafael Devers came up with the bases empty and nobody out, and he reached for a slider on the outer half and still managed to pull it out to right-center field for a solo shot, extending the lead to nine. They’d quickly get two more on after that, and Danny Santana, who was just activated from the injured list prior to the game, brought both runners home with a double. That made it 11-0, and in the fourth Santana added on a solo homer of his own for a 12th run on the evening.
Eight of those 12 runs were scored before Nick Pivetta even had to take the mound, and while he was facing a lineup that has given him major trouble all year, this cushion had to have made things easier. He worked around a pair of singles to start the bottom half of the first for a scoreless inning, and continued to keep the shutout going through the second and third as well.
In the fourth, with the lead up to 12 at that point, things got a little bit uncomfortable, and certainly more uncomfortable than anyone would have expected coming into the inning. Pivetta started the inning with a walk and a base hit to put runners on the corners, and Toronto would get their first run of the night on a ground ball. That was followed with a sacrifice fly to give them two runs, and then a solo homer from Cavan Biggio to put three runs on the board.
Pivetta still couldn’t get it together after the home run, giving up two singles followed by another walk, and suddenly the bases were full for Bo Bichette in a nine-run game. We were really only one swing from this being a game again. The Blue Jays star shortstop did get one run home on a little infield single to the left side of the mound, and now in an eight-run game it was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with a chance to make it a ballgame again. On a 2-2 pitch Pivetta left a fastball at the top of the zone over the middle of the plate, a pitch Guerrero could crush. Fortunately for Boston, he just missed it and his fly ball out to left field ended the inning with the score still 12-4.
That was really the only time it felt a little bit stressful. The Red Sox did add another run in the sixth thanks to yet another home run from Hernández, his second of the night and the team’s sixth. Pivetta was able to get through 2 2⁄3 more scoreless innings after that scary fourth as well. Hirokazu Sawamura, who first got up during that shaky fourth inning, came on to finish the seventh. It was Darwinzon Hernandez for the eighth, and he tossed a perfect inning. That left one more inning, which went to Adam Ottavino. He had no issues at all closing out the win.
The 13-4 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 57-38. With the Rays dropping one to the Orioles on Monday, Boston ups their lead in the division to 1.5 games.
The Red Sox now look to clinch a series victory in Buffalo with a win on Tuesday. They’ll have Garrett Richards on the mound, while Toronto’s starter has not been announced. First pitch is set for 7:07 PM ET, weather-permitting.