The Boston Red Sox have everything going for them right now. While completing their sweep over the Oakland Athletics, they scored 13 runs or more in each of those games and ended up outscoring Oakland 40-15. Although the pitching wasn't their best against Oakland, it was certainly solid enough to secure a win with the way the offense has been performing.
However, the main concern of the Red Sox start entering the game was David Price. Price, who was signed to a seven-year, $217 million contract in the offseason, entered the game with the worst ERA in baseball at 6.75. The former Vanderbilt pitcher has been shown working extra hard with pitching coach Carl Willis, specifically working on his surprisingly low velocity and rearrangement of his leg kick.
The Red Sox were victorious yet again on Thursday night, defeating the Houston Astros 11-1. It was a battle of both the winner of the Cy Young Award and runner-up, as Dallas Keuchel and Price matched up. Price would get the best of Keuchel tonight, earning his fifth win of the season, while Keuchel picked up his fifth loss.
Boston improves to 22-13 on the season while the Astros fall to 14-22. The Red Sox are now on a five-game winning streak, and are the first team to score ten or more runs in four straight games since they did it in 2007, the year they won the World Series.
David Price bounces back from rough start
Although Price has commonly had bad opening months to the season, 2016 was surely the worse he's had. He stated multiple times that he is unhappy with his performance, and couldn't wait to get back on the mound. His last outing was a pure example of his rough start to the season, as he allowed six earned runs, seven hits, and three walks in just 4.2 innings of work.
Price was eager to get back on the mound, and he surely showed it today. The left-hander finished 6.2 innings of work, allowing just one earned run on six hits and one walk, but his work was headlined by his 12 strikeouts.
Most knew the David Price of old had returned after his start to the game. Price allowed singles to Jose Altuve and George Springer to open up the game but struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning. In the second, he also struck out the side, therefore punching out the first six hitters he retired.
Price's only earned run came in the second. After striking out Carlos Gomez to open up the inning, Luis Valbuena reached on a bunt single, followed up by an Erik Kratz double off the Green Monster to bring Valbuena to third. The next hitter, Jake Marisnick, hit a flare to second that Dustin Pedroia mishandled, scoring Valbuena. The error was Pedroia's second of the season, but Price would go on to strike out the next two hitters to get out of the inning.
Boston's Price departed with two outs in the seventh after striking out Marisnick, walking back to the dugout with a standing ovation from the Fenway Park crowd. Junichi Tazawa recorded the last out of the seventh, and also tossed a scoreless eighth inning. Heath Hembree pitched the ninth and retired the Astros in order securing the Red Sox victory.
Red Sox bats hot once again
At this point, not even the defending Cy Young award winner can stop the Red Sox offense. Everybody in the lineup is producing, and their run total of the past four games shows that. Every player in the lineup tonight recorded at least one hit.
Xander Bogaerts got the offense started right away, following a Pedroia single with a two-run home run in the Green Monster in the first inning. It was the shortstop's third home run of the season, and with another two hits tonight, his batting average keeps creeping up to .331.
In the second, Jackie Bradley Jr. would keep up his hot bat. After extending his hitting streak to 17 games and recording six RBIs Wednesday night, the center fielder would keep up his hot trend with an RBI single in the second. His hitting streak is now 18 games, tying Eric Hosmer for the longest this season.
Boston would not stop there, as their bats would come out hot yet again in the third. David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez opened the frame with back-to-back doubles, then Ramirez was brought home three pitches later from a Chris Young single. With Ramirez's three hits tonight, his average springs up to .313, joining Pedroia, Bogaerts, Travis Shaw, Bradley, and Ortiz with averages above .300.
The lone player who has not lived up to expectations in the Red Sox lineup this season is Mookie Betts. Betts was expected to have an MVP-like season, but he has just a .253 batting average at the top of the lineup. Thankfully for Betts, it hasn't really mattered, as he has benefited from the fact that six of his teammates are hitting above .300.
However, Betts would produce for himself in the sixth. The right fielder connected with a three-run home run over the green monster in the sixth, stretching the lead to 8-1. That would force Keuchel to exit the game after six innings allowing eight runs, ten hits, three walks, and struck out four. Keuchel has not gotten off to a great start, as his record now moves to 2-5 with a 5.58 ERA after winning the Cy Young last season.
Towards the end of the game, the blow out would continue even more. Josh Fields would pitch both the seventh and eighth innings, and would allow three runs. Shaw connected with an RBI double in the seventh while Ramirez and Ortiz both had RBIs in the eighth. The Red Sox offense continues to produce as they have been all season, and it surely takes a lot of pressure off the starting pitchers if they know their offense is capable of producing ten or more runs four nights in a row.
The teams will play game two of the four-game series on Friday as Lance McCullers will make his season debut against Steven Wright and the Red Sox.