Amid rampant speculation about his status before Monday night’s 9-2 victory over the Texas Rangers, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine received unsolicited votes of confidence from principal owner John Henry and general manager Ben Cherington which seemed to quell the media-driven cacophony, if only for a day.
Asked for his reaction to the front office’s show of support, Valentine said, “I regretted that they had to do it. If our record was better they wouldn’t have had to do it. Totally appreciate it, though.
“They felt it was necessary, they think it was good for the guys.”
It seemed to have the desired effect as the Red Sox pounded out 14 hits — including eight for extra bases, all doubles — to climb back to the .500 mark (55-55) after taking the opener of this three-game set against the Rangers, which will wrap up a 10-game home stand.
“I don’t know that the players were so totally involved in all the drama,’’ Valentine said. “But I like when they play well and when they execute well.’’
The top three hitters of Boston’s lineup led the hit barrage as Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4, with three doubles (giving him 22 on the season). Meanwhile, leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury and No. 2 hitter Carl Crawford – as mercurial a top-of-the-order tandem as there is in the Major Leagues – combined to go 5-for-9 with 5 runs scored, 4 RBI, and 4 doubles.
“That doesn’t happen too often, but when it does this offense is going to be pretty explosive,’’ said Ellsbury, who went 3-for-5 with 3 runs scored and an RBI. He smacked a pair of doubles off Rangers righthanded rookie Yu Darvish, who became the first starter in franchise history to allow seven doubles in a game.
“You can see tonight when that does happen, we’re going to score a lot of runs,’’ Ellsbury said. “For us, it’s fun getting on base, running, causing havoc. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense.’’
Righthanded sinkerballer Aaron Cook (3-5) was the beneficiary of Boston’s extra-base explosion as he picked up the victory giving up one run on six hits and three walks while recording a pair of strikeouts over seven innings.
“I think any time I have my sinker working, and the guys are playing great defense behind me, that’s a great recipe for success,’’ said Cook, who won for the first time since June 29 and recorded his fifth quality start in nine outings this season.
“I was just really focused on staying at the bottom of the zone as much as possible tonight,’’ Cook said. “Even when getting guys on, I just pounded the bottom of the zone and let the guys play defense behind me. It’s pretty much my approach every time I take the mound.’’
Asked afterward about Valentine’s vote of confidence, Adrian Gonzalez said, “Yeah, he deserves it. It’s one of those things where he hasn’t swung the bat all year, he hasn’t pitched — it’s us who are playing out there. We’re at a .500 record right now and it’s on us, it’s not on Bobby.
“Everybody wants to make a big deal out of that, but it’s never been on Bobby. It’s been on us.”
Now more than ever, it seems. The Sox are back to having a .500 record, they’re on a modest two-game winning streak but need to turn it into a considerably longer one if they intend to cover the ground they must cover in the remaining 52 games on the schedule, including 20 at home.
“Definitely, the calendar’s ticking away and so we’ve got to start playing good baseball and get on a roll,’’ Cook said. “The bats really came to life tonight. If we can continue to go out there and just play the type of baseball that we’re capable of just playing – play fun, play relaxed – I think good things can happen.’’