Red Sox jump to early lead with explosive first inning on Patriots’ Day
The Boston Red Sox lineup was on fire from the start of the game
The game had an early start time on Patriots’ Day but the Boston Red Sox bats had no problem waking up on time.
Boston roughed up Chicago White Sox ace Lucas Giolito for six runs in the first inning in which the right-hander was forced to toss a staggering 46 pitches. The Red Sox lineup stayed hungry throughout the game but they put the game away early with that explosive opening frame that took the wind out of Chicago’s sails.
Kike Hernandez got the bludgeoning started with a leadoff home run. The umpires initially ruled that the ball slammed into the top of the left field wall and was hit so hard that it bounced back quickly enough to hold Hernandez to a single. Replay clearly showed the ball hit the padding behind the ledge of the Green Monster and the call was overturned, allowing Hernandez to circle the bases.
Hernandez joins Ellis Burks as the only Red Sox hitters to ever hit a leadoff home run at Fenway Park on Patriots’ Day.
Alex Verdugo followed by beating the shift with an opposite field base hit that rolled through the infield into shallow left. That made the overturned call crediting Hernandez with a home run a potentially significant turning point. Had Hernandez been stuck on first base instead, the White Sox defense would presumably be aligned at double play depth instead of in the shift, in which case that ball might not sneak through for a hit. The outcome of this game would have been drastically different had Chicago turned two and wiped out the first two batters of the inning.
J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers both singled with the latter base hit driving in Verdugo for the second run of the inning.
Christian Vazquez broke an 0-for-15 slump by dropping a bunt down the third base line for an infield single that loaded the bases. It was initially called a sacrifice but there was no reason to give up an out to move runners along when the Red Sox had Giolito on the ropes. Vazquez recognized that the third baseman wasn’t playing in so he was bunting for a base hit all the way. The official scorer eventually corrected the mistake, crediting Vazquez with his first of three hits on the day. Consider the slump busted.
Marwin Gonzalez singled to drive in another run before Hunter Renfroe finally made the first out of the inning. At least it was a productive out, a grounder to third that allowed Devers to come home while leaving two runners in scoring position. They would score on Franchy Cordero’s single, although it took an assist by the left fielder making an error to send both home to make it a six-run inning.
This marked the first time that the Red Sox have opened a game with six consecutive hits since July 2, 2015 in Toronto. It’s the first time they have done so at Fenway Park since June 27, 2003 against the Marlins.
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It wouldn’t lead to more runs but arguably the most impressive plate appearance of the inning belonged to Bobby Dalbec. The rookie won a 14-pitch battle in which he fouled off eight pitches to draw a walk. Dalbec ended up being the only Red Sox hitter without a hit in this game but that first-inning walk helped drive up the pitch count on Giolito to prevent him from settling in.
Boston sent 11 batters to the plate before Giolito mercifully escaped the first inning. The right-hander was brought out for the second inning but got the hook before he could record another out.
Giolito didn’t seem to have a good feel for his fastball, which he typically utilizes about half the time. He turned to his changeup, which is his best pitch, holding opposing hitters to a .111 average entering the day and a .157 average last season, per Baseball Savant. The Red Sox were ready for it, recording five of their seven hits in the inning against the changeup.
Maybe it was the early start time but the All-Star didn’t bring his A game today. It didn’t seem to bother Nathan Eovaldi or the Red Sox hitters but perhaps Giolito simply isn’t a morning person. Hey, I can relate to that.
The Red Sox would end up scoring 11 runs as they cruised to a victory to split the four-game series. It’s only the seventh time in franchise history that they have scored 11+ runs on Patriots’ Day.
We didn’t need to wait long to find the turning point in this game. It came in the first inning with the Red Sox essentially putting the game away with a six-run outburst. While it was certainly an impressive performance, it’s not one that should surprise us from the team with the league’s top offense and best record.