R.A. Dickey, welcome to the American League Beast. A day after Boston was embarrassed 5-0 by the Toronto Blue Jays – a game in which Boston’s pitching couldn’t hold the line, the offense looked like it might be capable of taking on the Toledo Mud Hens and John Lackey suffered a strained bicep in his pitching arm – a statement was made.
Will Middlebrooks slammed three home runs (4 RBI), Mike Napoli knocked in four runs and scored twice and Jacoby Ellsbury drove in two runs and scored two on the way to a flat out rout of the Blue Jays. The Red Sox piled up 15 hits and scored in six of nine frames.
While the offense racked up the runs, Sox starter Jon Lester had his second strong outing of the season, this one better than his Opening Day win against the Yankees. Lester pitched a seven complete inning shutout, striking our six and walking none. Lester’s ERA is a stingy 1.50. His back-to-back performances are looking a lot like the Lester of old; focused, unflappable and dominant. Clayton Mortensen hurled two innings of two-hit shutout ball in relief of Lester.
The Sox pounced on Dickey early, scoring five runs in the first. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to start the barrage, followed by back-to-back singles by Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia to score Ellsbury. Mike Napoli followed with a double that scored Victorino and Pedroia. Will Middlebrooks hit a line drive two-run homer that took about three seconds to get out of the yard.
Middlebrooks homered in the fifth and again in the seventh as part of a back-to-back combination with Daniel Nava. Boston completed their afternoon scoring assault with homers by Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli (Pedroia aboard) in the eighth.
Five of Boston’s nine starters are batting over .300. The Red Sox’ .290 team average is fourth best in the majors. Boston’s pitching is one more solid win away from breaking into the top 10. Sure it’s early in the season. Red Sox fans starved for good news after 2012 will, however, take this start out of the blocks as cause for a bit of hopeful revelry. It’s like a cool drink of water after a very long walk in the desert.