BOSTON -- Steven Wright’s performance in the Red Sox’ 6-4 victory Wednesday night was important for multiple reasons -- giving the bullpen rest and tying for the division lead to name a few.
Still, what might go unnoticed is his what he did in the brief half inning after the Red Sox had taken just a 1-0 lead.
Boston scraped out a run in the second frame with two outs, with Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw at the center of it production -- a momentum shift coming from two hitters who haven’t seen the ball well lately.
And Wright almost gave up a run the next half inning -- allowing Ryan Flaherty to reach third base for the Orioles -- but Wright stranded two Baltimore runners.
“I think it’s huge,” Wright said on tossing a scoreless inning after his team scored in the prior inning. “You want to try to get your guys up there swinging the bat as quickly as possible. For me, I just try to go out there every time and throw up zeros. I feel like that’s our job and our goal.”
Then in the top of the fourth, Wright was lock down again after Boston’s offense got to Kevin Gausman for five more runs in the bottom of the third -- retiring the Orioles 4-5-6 hitters in order.
“I think it’s really crucial after you score -- especially when you put up a five-spot,” Wright said. “When you score one it’s big, but when you score five, it’s like ‘Hey man, we need to try to keep this momentum going.’ So you try to go up there and just attack the zone.”
The righty made it clear that, from a pitcher’s perspective, it’s important to maintain momentum for hitters once they’ve grasped it -- but that he doesn’t fully know how much giving up runs takes away from his offense.
“For me, I think it would [throw off momentum],” Wright said. “I really don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but that’s my mentality. So, I try to go up there and throw up a quick inning to get our guys back in the dugout.”
Apparently, his notion is spot on.
“What I’ve learned is that’s the most important inning,” Mookie Betts said after the game. “Right after you score, you have to go put up a zero. That kills any type of momentum that can start from them. And we can kind of carry that over from the last inning. It was really important that [Wright] came out and put up a zero right after we scored.”
And that’s something Boston pitching has struggled with -- among other things -- with the most recent example coming in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss.
Trailing 2-0, Boston scored in the seventh to cut the lead in half. But David Price came back out and the Orioles made it 3-1 on Jonathan’s Schoop’s home run — on the first pitch of the eighth inning no less.
If the pitching can maintain the momentum that the offense seems to find at some point nearly every night, then things will get significantly easier for the Red Sox.