A walk in the park?
Tied for the third-worst home record in the majors (6-11), nothing seemed to come easy for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. But the Sox shed that stigma ( at least for a day) with a 12-1 romp over the Cleveland Indians that enabled them to improve to 15-19 with their third consecutive home win.
The Sox had won just three times in their previous 14 games before this three-game streak.
The Red Sox scored 12 runs on 12 hits, seven for extra-bases including a solo homer by Will Middlebrooks and a two-run blast by Jarrod Saltamacchia. They got solid pitching from righthander Daniel Bard, who went 6.1 innings and allowed one run on six hits and four walks and two strikeouts.
“It’s very encouraging, especially at home because there were some questions after Game 1 that we’d never play well at home again,” said manager Bobby Valentine, who celebrated his 62d birthday Sunday. “And it was a mental state that we couldn’t break through.
“When you see the guys in the clubhouse, there’s a good thing forming and that’s good,” Valentine said. “I think we had a good thing most of the year, it was just frustrating because we’d get so close and it would slip away.
“Now we’re just banging the door down and we’re not leaving the door open the last couple of games.”
Bard, 3-4 on the season, lowered his earned run average to 4.30 after the Sox spotted him a 4-0 lead in the first against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson (1-3, 5.40 ERA). Masterson faced nine batters in the first and gave up four runs on four hits, one walk, and hit one batsmen
“You know when you score four runs with two outs and nobody on in the first inning,’’ Valentine said. “And it’s started off with a walk in a patient at-bat from your third-place hitter [David Ortiz], things are going your way.’’
Bard struggled in the third and loaded the bases with one out on back-to-back walks to Jack Hannahan and Johnny Damon and a single to left by Jason Kipnis. Bard then walked in Cleveland’s only run when he issued a free pass to Asdrubal Cabrera.
“Third inning wasn’t pretty,’’ Bard said. “Just one of those things – a couple of long sits you lose a feel for the release point on the fastball and it’s happened to me before. It’s just a matter of grinding through and finding something you can throw for a strike and for me it was the off speed stuff.’’
Bard was also bolstered by some terrific defensive play, particularly in the third when Dustin Pedroia fielded a weak grounder from designated hitter Travis Hafner and flipped it to shortstop Mike Aviles, who turned the double play.
After fielding Casey Kotchman’s fly in the fourth with one out and two on in scoring position, Cody Ross made a strong throw from right that kept Carlos Santana pinned at third.
Then Aviles bailed Bard out of the fifth when he made a leaping stab of Cabrera’s hard line shot and doubled off Kipnis at first to end the inning.
“The defense was really good behind me all day,’’ Bard said. “Pedey not trying to tag the guy and flipping it the normal way to get the double play was big. Aviles catching the line drive and doubling the guy off, and Cody making the throw from the outfield.
“Those things really helped me out a lot.’’
The 11-run margin of victory resulted in the Red Sox most lopsided victory of 2012 and biggest since an 18-6 victory over Toronto since Sept. 13, 2011.
A walk in the park, indeed.