By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON So many around the Red Sox are accustomed to hulkingoffensive numbers and punishingly professional at bats over the last decade.
Some have probably become a bit spoiled at this point in the golden era of baseball in Boston, and simply expect offensive prowess and hitting greatness as an automatic right.
But relative newcomers like John Lackey and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have witnessed offenses outside of the Friendly Fenway confines firsthand, and know just how good they have it playing pepper with theGreenMonsteron Yawkey Way.
Weve got a lot of good players, man," Lackey said. "We got some guys that can swing it. Its fun to watch, for sure. "Youre okay sitting over there on the benchfor some extra home half innings to watch ralliesand get a lot of offensive run support. I was hoping for things like that. Thats one of the reasons I came here. I spent so many years in Anaheim and it wasnt exactly like that. So its fun to watch.
The Sox have always scored a ton of runs and fared exceedingly well at Fenway Park this season, but theyve taken it to ridiculous levels over the last month. Not only are the Sox 18-4 during the month of July, but theyve also mercilessly beaten down mediocre pitching staffs during the dog days of the season. They've averaged 5.56 runs per game during the season and lead all of baseball with 567 runs scored, but they're averaging a shade under seven runs per game in July.
It happened again on Wednesday night as Bruce Chen was reminded just how fringe a journeymen he really is by an efficient Red Sox attack that cranked out double-digit hits for the 11th straight game at Fenway. The Sox have posted double-digit hits 52 times this year to tie them with the Texas Rangers for the lead in Major League baseball, and theyve posted double-digit runs 16 times this season with the latest coming inthe 12-5 drubbing of Kansas City.Much of the effectiveness comes from their unrelenting lineup depth.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia have wreaked havoc on opposing teams pitchers and defense at the top of the lineup. The trio of Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz have formed the pitchers version of a meat grinder in the heart of the order and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Marco Scutaro have given the Sox opportunistic offensive playersat the bottom third of the lineup.
Ortiz has his ideas about the special sauce thats making the Sox perform so well when they walk up to the dish.
I think it's Ellsbury and Pedroia," he said. "Theyre making it tough on everyone else. What theyre doing at the top of the lineup is ridiculous. You dont get that on daily basis from your first and second-hole hitter. It puts so much pressure on the pitcher that Im pretty sure it will get the pitcher out of control a little bit.
There is no weakness, no safe haven and no escape for all but the best of big league hurlers toeing the rubber against Boston, and the Red Sox know it each time they dig in to hit. David Ortiz has taken part in some historic offensive lineups in Boston during his time playing tag team partners with Manny Ramirez, but even the designated hitter admitted this one might just be the best.Not the 2003 team that ranks among the best Sox hitting lineups of all time, or the 2004 and 2007 teams dangerous enough to capture the World Series. But the very Sox team that's taken up residence during the summer of 2011.
Its fun. It is fun especially the way we started out the season, said Ortiz. Everybody around here gets ready to play and win ballgames. I dont know, don't want to talk about it too early because weve got two months left, but everything Ive seen from head to toe is what you really want to be a part of.
The numbers back it up as well. The Sox are first in nearly every important offensive category, and their robust month of July has seen them post an .886 OPS during the prolific month a mark that is the teams highest since putting up a .945 OPS during June of 2003 and ranks up with their best months of the 1996 (.904 in June) and 1950 (.914 in May) Sox seasons.
Thats exactly the kind of total base and run-scoring machine GM Theo Epstein envisioned when he coaxedall the pieces together this winter, and the players are recognizing just how unique things are right in the middle of their batting binge.
Weve got a good ball club from top to bottom," Saltalamacchia said. "The one thing we have is confidence and were going to go out there and play our game. "Getting guys comfortable and getting guys at bats, thats when youre going to start seeing things like this. We just needed to get healthy.
Youve got guys here that are established. We had a couple of guys in Texas that were established like Mike Young, but here youve got guys that have been around the game for a long time. They bring a lot to the game and help each other out.
The only thing not getting helped out right now: the ERA of opposing pitching staffs unlucky enough to come across the Red Sox hitters during one heck of a hitting spree.