The Red Sox look like they have the makings of a formidable duo in the middle of the order, a notion that gained further credence on Wednesday afternoon in the Sox’ 6-5 victory over the A’s.
On a day when the Sox suffered through through listless innings to start the game, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli jumpstarted the offense in the bottom of the fourth when Ortiz slammed a double high off the Wall in left-center and Napoli chased him in by lining a double into the gap in left-center. That set in motion a three-run rally to tie the game, and both factored into a second straight three-run eruption (Ortiz with an RBI single, Napoli by getting hit by a pitch to load the bases) in the next frame.
Ortiz is showing signs of being able to produce even as he continues to find his rhythm, having gone 8-for-16 to start the year. Napoli, meanwhile, is emerging as a ferocious presence with whom opponents have little desire to contend (he got walked and hit by a pitch in his 1-for-2 day).
Their relatively new partnership (Ortiz played in his fourth game on Wednesday) suggests a potentially new dynamic for the Red Sox. For most of the year, the team’s success was predicated upon a series of dominating starts. Now, with Napoli torrid and Ortiz off to a strong start, the Sox may have an alternative path to victory available.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Ortiz jumpstarted the offense in the bottom of the fifth inning by lining a first-pitch fastball from left-hander Brett Anderson high off the Wall in left-center, hustling into second with his third double of the year. He followed that by bouncing a shift chopper through the sparsely covered left side of the infield for an RBI in the fifth. Ortiz is now 3-for-7 against lefties this year.
– Andrew Bailey struck out the side to slam the door in the ninth, mixing a 95 mph fastball with a tremendous cutter.
– Stephen Drew, who was 0-for-8 against left-handers this year after striking out in his first at-bat against A’s lefty Brett Anderson, yanked a 2-1 fastball down the first base line and into the right-field corner for a game-tying two-run triple in the bottom of the fifth inning. However, he also fanned three times.
– With a first-inning double to left-center, Dustin Pedroia snapped a streak of nine straight games without an extra-base hit. During the stretch, despite the absence of extra-base knocks, Pedroia remained productive by reaching base at a .375 clip and getting on base in eight of the nine contests. He went 2-for-5 on the day.
– Daniel Nava delivered a bases loaded, pinch-hit single against reliever Chris Resop in the bottom of the fifth, to improve to 3-for-18 in his career as a pinch-hitter. The run, which gave the Sox a 6-3 lead at the time, provided the eventual margin of victory.
– The Red Sox bullpen delivered a pair of pivotal outs with the game in the balance. In the top of the sixth, Junichi Tazawa was asked to relieve Jon Lester with the bases loaded and two outs in a 6-3 game. Though he missed his location, Tazawa got a fly ball to center to end the threat, and he’s now stranded all six of his inherited runners this year. Then, after the A’s scored a run in the top of the seventh against Tazawa, Andrew Miller was brought in with a runner on second and two outs in a 6-4 game. The left-hander, who’d struggled throughout this season, punched out the only batter he faced, left-hander Brandon Moss, on a full count slider.
The Sox bullpen as a whole has now allowed just three of the 20 runners they’ve inherited (15 percent) to score.
– For the fifth time this year, the Red Sox knocked out a starter before he’d thrown five full innings. Only the Mets (7), A’s (7) and Tigers (6) have delivered that many early knockouts.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Shane Victorino had to leave the game after the bottom of the sixth inning due to injury, potentially a recurrence of the lower back tightness that impacted his availability during last weekend’s series against the Royals.
– For the first time all year, Jon Lester struggled through an entire outing. He permitted six walks, the second most he’s ever permitted in a game, along with six hits (the most he’s given up this year), three runs (again, a 2013 season-high) and his first homer of the 2013 season. Still, despite his struggles, he still managed to contain his struggles to one inning (a fourth in which he gave up a three-run homer), and the Sox improved to 5-0 in his starts while Lester is now 4-0 for the year.
– Will Middlebrooks went 0-for-4 and stranded seven baserunners. Most notably, with the bases loaded, three runs in and no outs in the bottom of the fifth, Middlebrooks swung at a first-pitch fastball on the hands from right-hander Chris Resop, popping it up to shallow left. That, in turn, set the stage for the Sox to permit the A’s to escape the inning when left-hander Jeremy Blevins punched out Drew and David Ross flied to right.
Middlebrooks is now 5-for-54 in his last 14 games.
– Koji Uehara allowed a solo homer for the second time in as many outings, this one a blast by Chris Young. However, after permitting the solo blast that trimmed the Sox’ advantage from two runs to one, he recovered to get through the eighth inning without further incident.
We check in with Big Vince Wilfork on a Patriots Monday and get his take on the defense's progression, his interception, his teammate Darrelle Revis and playing Monday Night Football in KC.
We check in with the head coach for his reaction to the Patriots win against Oakland, the offense's struggles, Julien Edelman, and playing in KC on Monday Night.
We check in with Tedy Bruschi on a Patriots Monday for his reaction to the Patriots struggles, Julien Edelman and his strong comments about his desire to see Roger Goodell lose his job.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Joe and Dave talk with David Ortiz after he hits two home runs to propel the Red Sox to an extra-innings win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Ben Cherington discussed the debut of Castillo and his thoughts on Jeter.
As the season winds down, We check in Sox skipper John Farrell as we await the Boston debut of Rusney Castillo.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
Tom joined the show after the close win over Oakland.
Tim Hasselbeck joined the show to discuss week 3 in the NFL.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
Christian and Fauria re-visit their karaoke battle from over the weekend, with audio!
Oakland drove down deep into the Patriots red zone with a minute to play on Sunday in a bid to tie the game and send it to overtime. Jones was asked if he and his teammates were nervous at all towards the end; He refuted the assertion saying the team clamped down and became more composed. Veterans Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork are vocal leaders and can calm the defense down. And then, all four of the guys had a laugh over rookie Brian Stork's post-game interview with reporters.
Edelman talked about his scary play in the red zone to start off the 4th quarter, in which he flipped in the air and landed on his head. He was fine, but admits that players need to be aware of the down and importance of putting your health in jeopardy over the course of a 16 game season. The guys asked him about the offense's struggles, and Gronk's inability to pull in a tipped ball in the end zone.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Jerry Thornton joins Dino and Kirk for the second edition of Breaking Balls. They dive into a variety of topics including their feelings about polarizing Boston sports media members.
Your beloved hosts are joined by WEEI.com Bruins reporter DJ Bean as well as producer of the Dennis & Callahan Show, Craig "Sausage" Sawisch. Support America: Support Your Local Post Office
Dennis, Callahan and Minihane make their podcast debut. This week's topics include Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Jenny Dell and some discussion on people we've encountered with the worst breath.
Dino, Kirk and Thornton opened the show discussing an ugly win by the Patriots.More from this show
The defense was forced to make a stop in the last minute of the game to preserve the 16-9 victory on Sunday. The offense had no rhythm again and struggled in the red zone. The offensive line looked poor again. Lou, Christian and Tim talk about the win that looked like a loss, and what this team needs to do to improve.More from this show