Red Sox bury Blue Jays in historic first-inning home run barrage

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 02: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on July 02, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 02: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on July 02, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox brought their home run swings to face the Blue Jays

In the wake of three consecutive series losses and a frustrating weekend in the Bronx, the Boston Red Sox had plenty of frustration built up that they took out on the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff on Monday.

The Red Sox wasted no time proving their lineup had recovered from a brief dry spell, unleashing a first-inning assault in which they piled up eight runs to bury the Blue Jays early. Ross Stripling coughed up six of those runs while recording only one out before getting the hook. All six runs scored on a pair of homers and the Red Sox would add another two-run shot before the inning mercifully came to an end.

This marks the first time in franchise history that the Red Sox have tallied three home runs in the first inning of a road game. It’s also the first time this season that Boston has hit three-plus homers in any inning.

Jarren Duran patiently watched the first two pitches he saw go by to get ahead in the count 2-0. On the third pitch of the plate appearance, Duran caught a fastball on the outside part of the plate and took it to the opposite field for his first career home run.

His emerging power has led to Duran shooting up prospect rankings this year ahead of his highly anticipated promotion to the big leagues. He smashed 15 home runs in 46 games for Triple-A Worcester this season and now has his first major league home run in only his third game.

Stripling mixed in a double between a pair of walks to load the bases in front of Hunter Renfroe. As you might expect, that didn’t turn out well for the Blue Jays starter. Renfroe took the first two pitches for called strikes but he was ready for the next pitch, smashing a high fastball at the top of the zone 403 feet to deep left center to break the game wide open with a grand slam.

This was only the second grand slam of the season by a Red Sox hitter. Christian Arroyo hit a game-winning grand slam against the Atlanta Braves last month. Renfroe’s wasn’t quite as dramatic but his four-run blast gave the Red Sox a comfortable early lead.

Boston’s bats weren’t done yet though. The lineup turned over to bring Kike Hernandez back up for his second plate appearance of the inning. He doubled in front of Duran to begin the game but was prepared for double the damage this time. Hernandez hit a rocket off lefty Anthony Kay that traveled 434 feet to left field for a two-run homer that put the Red Sox ahead 8-0.

Hernandez tacked on an unnecessary insurance run for good measure in the sixth inning with a solo shot that represented the 500th hit of his career. His second home run of the game also came against a lefty, Blue Jays reliever Tayler Saucedo. Hernandez continues to crush lefties, slugging .500 with a .836 OPS against them this season.

This was not a game for the Red Sox to be without their celebratory home run cart. Without a laundry cart available in the visiting dugout in Buffalo, the players settled for using a cooler to pull their teammates the length of the dugout after each of their six home runs.

Boston plied up 13 runs in the blowout victory, the most they have scored since putting up a season-high 15 runs when they opened this month hosting the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. This was the second-most runs that Boston has scored on the road this season, one shy of the 14 they battered the Orioles with in Baltimore back in April.

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The Red Sox didn’t have any players participate in the Home Run Derby during All-Star week in Colorado but they held one of their own in Buffalo at the expense of the Blue Jays pitching staff. It’s safe to say this lineup has found its confidence to end their brief slump.