Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America
The Boston Red Sox have had a sensational offense so far this season, but the only place of concern with it was that they were not hitting enough home runs.
Well, over the course of this three game series with the Chicago White Sox, they seemed to have put that behind him.
With three more homers on Thursday night, the Red Sox, hit a combined five on the series, and defeated the White Sox 7-3. The home runs came off the bats of Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Boston maintains their first place lead over the Baltimore Orioles and improve to 17-11. Chicago maintains their first place mark , and still hold a solid record at 19-10. Matt Barnes recorded the win, while Erik Johnson took home the loss in his 2016 debut.
Both teams force starters to exit early
After Mookie Betts recorded an out to open up the game, Pedroia took a first pitch and drove it over the left field bleachers. The former American League MVP has had an MVP-like start to his 2016 season, as he is now hitting .322 with four home runs and 14 RBIs.
In the bottom of the first inning, Adam Eaton used his aggressive base running to produce a run right back. Eaton recorded a single to open up the inning, then later advanced from first to third on a wild pitch. Jimmy Rollins would walk, bringing the hot bat of Jose Abreu to the plate, but he would ground into a double play. The run would score, however, bringing the lead to 1-1.
After Ryan Hanigan hit an RBI double in the second inning, the Red Sox used the third inning to do more damage. Ramirez would hit his home run to open up the third inning, the third of the season and second of the series. Travis Shaw would follow up with his second triple of the season, and Brock Holt would bring him home on a sacrifice fly, stretching the score to 4-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Henry Owens would run into a lot of trouble. He walked the first two batters, and after striking out Abreu, he walked Todd Frazier to load the bases. It was his sixth walk of the night, a career high. However, Owens would power through and get out of the inning. Melky Cabrera would pop up to Hanley on an awkward catch, then struck out Brett Lawrie on three pitches.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Owens’ rough start would quickly come to an end. Avisail Garcia hit a home run to leadoff inning, and John Farrell came out to give the ball to his bullpen. Owens would finish just 3+ innings allowing two hits, two runs, six walks, and two strikeouts.
The Red Sox as a team continued their control issues, and was evident yet again in the fifth. Heath Hembree would give up three straight singles, and would walk Hector Sanchez to give the White Sox their third run of the game. Boston as a team surrendered nine walks on the night, a season high. Johnson would also be done after five innings allowing eight hits, four runs, three walks, and struck out six.
Red Sox pull through late
Matt Albers replaced Erik Johnson in the sixth inning, but was greeted quickly by Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley lined an 0-1 pitch from Albers over the center field fence, and quickly stretched the lead back out to 5-3.
Other than Heath Hembree, the Red Sox bullpen turned in a very solid night. Barnes would get two outs in the fifth after Betts threw a rocket to home plate to complete a double play, throwing out Lawrie. Barnes also pitched the rest of the sixth, then handed the ball off to Junichi Tazawa, who struck out the side.
The Red Sox would score two more runs in the eighth inning after Xander Bogaerts hit a sacrifice fly and David Ortiz hit an RBI double, and that stretched the lead to a comfortable 7-3. Robbie Ross would strike out two of the four hitters he faced in the eighth, and set down the White Sox in order in the ninth.
Boston travels to the Bronx for a three game meeting with the New York Yankees, where the red-hot Rick Porcello will face Michael Pineda. Chicago stays at home, and will face the Minnesota Twins, and the first game will be Mat Latos against Ricky Nolasco of the Twins.