After a 2-1 start to the season, it took the Red Sox nine tries to return to the .500 mark after an early-season slump. However, surpassing the .500 mark proved not nearly so arduous as the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers today to win the series and move above .500 for the first time since April 3rd.
The Red Sox had a favorable pitching matchup entering the game with John Lackey (4-2, 3.77) going against converted starter Robbie Ross (1-3, 4.74). That advantage held true throughout the game as John Lackey dominated the Rangers’ lineup, going 7 innings while allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and no walks while striking out 9 batters.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox’ bats got off to a quick start against Robbie Ross. They gave Lackey some early run support, starting when Dustin Pedroia doubled to left-center to start the game and Shane Victorino bunted him to third base with just one out. Just one out into the game, Rangers’ manager Ron Washington made the unusual decision to intentionally walk David Ortiz, putting runners at the corners. There was some logic behind the move– it set up the double play and gave the Rangers a better chance to escape the inning with no runs scoring due to Mike Napoli‘s swing-and-miss tendencies– but things failed to pan out for Texas when Mike Napoli drove a liner into the right field corner for an RBI double. After a popup by Jonny Gomes, A.J. Pierzysnki made sure that the Red Sox didn’t strand the runners as he stroked a two-run single into right field to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead in the first.
The Red Sox picked up one more run in the second inning after a leadoff double by Jackie Bradley Jr. Drawing a parallelism to the previous inning, Jonathan Herrera bunted Bradley to third base with one out in the inning. Bradley would later score on an RBI fielder’s choice by Shane Victorino, but that would be all that the Red Sox got in the inning.
To his credit, Robbie Ross was great for the rest of the game. From the third inning until two outs in the seventh inning, Ross held the Red Sox hitless, with that streak only breaking when Dustin Pedroia homered to left to give the Red Sox a 5-1 lead at the time. The Rangers did what they could to back Ross, scattering seven hits against Lackey, but only picked up single runs in the fourth and seventh innings. After Lackey’s departure, Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara shut the Rangers out, each of them striking out two batters in scoreless innings as the Red Sox moved to 19-18 on the season.
The Red Sox will have an off day tomorrow before rolling into Minnesota for a three-game set with the Twins. On Tuesday’s game, Felix Doubront (1-3, 5.09) will start against Ricky Nolasco (2-3, 5.64).