Red Sox lineup can build on their 20-run offensive explosion

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 26: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox watches a hit against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning at Fenway Park on June 26, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 26: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox watches a hit against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning at Fenway Park on June 26, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox showed what they are capable of with a 20-run explosion

The Boston Red Sox vented weeks of frustration by clobbering the Tampa Bay Rays into submission with an outburst that reminded us that this team is capable of being an offensive juggernaut.

Boston set season highs with 20 runs scored, 19 hits, nine walks and tied a season high with 10 extra-base hits in a blowout victory that was even more lopsided than the final score indicates.

This game was essentially over by the fourth inning but after watching their team blow so many leads in recent weeks, including a stunning collapse in the series opener with the Rays the previous night, Boston’s bats refused to let up on the gas. They showed no mercy in assaulting an overwhelmed pitching staff to ensure that the late Rays rally we all knew was coming would fall well short.

The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead with three consecutive doubles from Kike Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe and Xander Bogaerts. It was the first time in the expansion era (since 1961) that the Red Sox have begun a game with three consecutive doubles in their first three plate appearances.

Every member of the starting lineup reached base at least once. Six players had multi-hit games, led by a 4-for-4 performance by J.D. Martinez. The veteran designated hitter reached base in all six of his plate appearances, drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch, while driving in a pair of runs and scoring three times.

Bobby Dalbec gave his floundering on-base percentage a boost by reaching base four times on two hits and a pair of walks. He led the team with five RBI while Renfroe and Bogaerts both drove in four.

The offensive fireworks were a welcome sign from a slumping lineup that hadn’t scored in double figures since July 19. Boston entered the day having lost 11 of their last 14 games, averaging a mere 2.9 runs per game during that stretch. The Red Sox were an elite offense in the first half of the season but the lineup has stalled in the second half. Even with this 20-run explosion, Boston is only 15th in the majors in runs scored and 13th with a .327 wOBA since the break.

The recent offensive woes have primarily been the result of a lack of timely hitting but they appear to have solved that riddle last night. The Red Sox piled up 20 runs despite only hitting one homer, a towering shot off the bat of Bogaerts in the eighth inning when the game was already out of reach.

Boston raced out to a commanding lead by stringing hits together and coming through in the clutch, traits that had abandoned them during their second-half slump. The Red Sox were 12-for-24 with runners in scoring position. They collected seven two-out RBI. Those are signs of a thriving offense.

Manager Alex Cora acknowledged that his team has struggled in those situations lately but he was also adamant that this lineup was due to breakout again, according to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.

"“What was going on for three weeks or whatever, that’s not who we are,” said Cora. “We know that. We’re going to get better. One hit in three weeks with a man at third and less than two outs, that’s not the norm. We’re going to get more hits in those situations.”"

One game isn’t enough to turn the season around, especially one in which the opponent waived the white flag early. With a bullpen game on tap for Thursday afternoon, Rays manager Kevin Cash left his starter out to dry. He tried squeezing as much out of Josh Fleming as he could before mercifully lifting him with one out in the fourth inning after he had been pummeled for ten earned runs.

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Dalbec received a gift when right fielder Randy Arozarena lost a fairly routine fly ball, allowing it to drop in for a triple that drove in three runs. It’s the easiest triple Dalbec will ever get but good things can happen when you put the ball in play, an important lesson for a young hitter who struggles to make contact.

Boston tacked on six more runs in the eighth inning when the Rays sent catcher Francisco Mejia to the mound for mop-up duty. Should this lineup be proud that they shelled a position player at the end of a blowout? Not particularly, but those runs all count.

Regardless of how they accumulated their runs, the dominant offensive performance will go a long way toward building momentum for this lineup. Players are starting to find their swing again and a game like this can help them get into a groove. Boston’s bats can build on this.

The Red Sox let their division lead slip away during a grueling 10-game road trip. It has been a grind but now that they are back at home, it’s time for this team to get back on track. Wednesday night’s victory is a positive step toward reclaiming their status as an elite offense.

This lineup was relentless at the plate even after they had a commanding lead. They didn’t let up. That’s the mentality this team needs to take down the stretch in order to climb back to the top of the division and make a deep postseason run.

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