Maybe I should head back out of town.
During my recent sojourn to southern-most Canada (Ontario) and Chicago, the Red Sox have shaken off the doldrums that afflicted them over the first six weeks of the season. As a superstitious fan, I am nervous my return to New England will disturb whatever karma has suddenly ignited their play.
Since I departed for Windsor and Chicago, the Sox won the final game of their brief two-game series against the Yankees, swept a two-game series against the Twins, won two of three games against the Phillies in Philadelphia and—with tonight’s win in Tampa—swept a three-game series against the first-place Rays. The Olde Towne Team has won eight of their last nine games.
The sweep in Tampa answered the Rays four-game sweep against the Red Sox in Boston last month…the Sox are now a season-best six games over .500 (27-21).
This evening at “The Trop,” 3B Adrian Beltre had four hits, including two home runs, and drove in six runs as the Red Sox prevailed, 11-3, over Tampa. Beltre is batting .516 over his last eight games.
DH David Ortiz, who batted third for the first time in a year, added two hits, including his 10th home run, and raised his batting average to .266 in the process. It was his sixth homer in his last 11 games and ninth of the month.
Beltre hit a solo homer off Rays starter Matt Garza in the second inning and added a three-run shot off him in the third inning to give the Sox a 4-1 lead. Ortiz’s two-run homer in the fifth staked the club to a 6-2 advantage.
Meanwhile, RHP John Lackey allowed twelve baserunners in 6.1 IP, but he held the Rays to just two runs with clutch pitching with runners in scoring position… Tampa was just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position against him.
The bullpen closed out the ballgame, allowing one run over 2.2 inninghs. LHP Hideki Okajima got the final two outs in the seventh. RHP Ramon Ramirez pitched a perfect eighth inning and newly-recalled righty Joe Nelson gave up a solo homer to Ben Zobrist in the ninth.
CF Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the lineup for the second straight night because of soreness in his left side.
Tampa Bay LF Carl Crawford stole second base in the fourth inning, giving him 32 straight successful steals against the Red Sox, who have not thrown him out since on Sept. 21, 2005.