Red Sox’ lineup proves capable of making some noise
Terry Francona spoke to the Red Sox before last night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, but not to chastise them after an embarrassing weekend sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. He instead asked for calm.
The team’s erratic start to the season, the manager believes, has been exacerbated by some players trying to make everything right with one swing or by taking unnecessary risks on the bases.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going the way you want them to, guys try to do more than they’re capable of, as opposed to spending their energy on doing what they are capable of,’’ Francona said.
If what followed is indeed what the Sox
are capable of, perhaps this season has plenty of promise remaining after all.
The Sox let loose a month of frustration on the Angels, romping to a 17-8 victory before a crowd of 37,404 at Fenway Park that reveled in every crack of the bat.
“This is a step in the right direction,’’ said Mike Lowell, who drove in four runs with four hits, three of them doubles.
At 12-14, the Sox needs plenty of steps like that before the season starts to resemble what they have become accustomed to. For now, a reminder of what this team is capable of was enough.
The 17 runs were the most since Aug. 2, as were the 20 hits. Eleven of the hits were for extra bases as the Sox pounded lefthander Joe Saunders (1-5), as well as the next two pitchers who followed (Matt Palmer and Brian Stokes).
J.D. Drew matched his career-high with four hits and drove in three runs. Adrian Beltre, a singles hitter all season, homered, doubled, and drove in three runs. Bill Hall, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis also hit home runs in support of Clay Buchholz (3-2).
“It seemed like everybody made hard contract. But we need to come out [today] and do it again,’’ Pedroia said. “We’re trying every day and working every day to get better. Hopefully this gets us on a roll because we have some good teams coming up.’’
Saunders, a 16-game winner last season, saw his ERA inflate to 7.04 as he allowed seven runs over four-plus innings.
It started in the second inning with Youkilis taking a fastball over the wall in left field for his fifth home run. Given the pace of his trot around the bases, the groin pull that kept Youkilis out of the lineup Sunday was not significant.
“It was a good night for a lot of guys,’’ said Youkilis, who was on base five times. “We were excited just to go out there and score some runs. Happy hitters are always good.’’
With two outs and a runner on later in the inning, Hall hit his first home run as a member of the Sox. He fouled off three two-strike pitches before connecting on a changeup and driving it over the wall in left.
“They say hitting is contagious,’’ Hall said. “We don’t feel like we’ve swung the bats like we can all year long. Whether there has been good pitching or not, we feel like we have a lineup that can score a lot of runs. This is a game we can build on.’’
The Sox added two runs in the third as Lowell doubled to the base of the wall in center, scoring Youkilis and Drew. With two on and two outs in the fourth inning, Angels manager Mike Scioscia went to the mound and told Saunders to walk Youkilis to get to Drew. He responded with a two-run single. Drew has driven in seven runs in the last four games.
Palmer, a righthander, replaced Saunders after he walked Hall to start the fifth inning. But Francona did not alter the lineup. That decision paid off in the sixth inning as the Sox scored seven runs and again showed their power.
Youkilis pounded a double high off the wall in center and scored on a single by Drew. Lowell followed with a double and Drew scored by running through the stop sign of third base coach Tim Bogar. An alert Lowell took third on the throw to the plate.
Beltre then hit his first home run as a member of the Sox, a no-doubter to left field. After Darnell McDonald walked and Marco Scutaro singled, the game was briefly delayed as the scoreboard flashed highlights of the Bruins’ victory over the Flyers in the NHL playoff game across town.
Pedroia teed it up from the point against Brian Stokes, his slap-shot sailing into the Monster seats as the Red Sox took an unfathomable 14-4 lead. The seven runs were the most in an inning for the Sox this season.
Buchholz went 5 2/3 innings for the win, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks. After shutout relief work by Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez, Scott Schoeneweis allowed four runs in the ninth. But that couldn’t spoil the night.
“I know ever since I’ve been in this organization its been engraved in me that we’re a winning organization so starting off slow is not the best feeling,’’ Buchholz said. “It shows what this team is capable of.’’