BOSTON The Boston Red Sox did a pretty fair job of showing exactly what they can do when everything goes right against the big, bad Texas Rangers on Monday night.
They got the pitching and the quality defense, but the real key was the top four hitters in the Sox lineup going ballistic in the 9-2 victory at Fenway Park that nudged them back to the .500 mark.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez went 11-for-18 with eight doubles and eight RBIs while knocking the stuffing out of Yu Darvish, and Ellsbury, Crawford and Pedroia became the first fearsome threesome in franchise history to each whack at least two doubles out of the 1-3 spots in the lineup.
While Sox manager Bobby Valentine wasnt going to start expecting that kind of production every single night, its much closer to the Sox team he envisioned prior to arriving in Boston.
Its going to be hard to get Dustin with three hits and Adrian with three hits every single night, or having Carl and Ellsbury on base all the time, said Valentine, who may not have witnessed some of the hitting binges that Pedroia is eminently capable of providing. But having consistent at bats are what were getting these days. These guys are world class players and theyre playing very well right now.
Of particular importance is Pedroias three-hit, three-double performance out of the No. 3 hole after languishing as a .260-something hitter for much of the season. The second baseman is a career .300 hitter and could truly spark the Sox if he goes on one of his patented hitting tears over the final two months of the season.
Clearly an energized Ellsbury and a confident Crawford have brought bounce to the top of Bostons batting order, but theyll also need consistency on a nightly basis if theyre looking to pile wins together.
The Sox are tops among Major League teams in runs scored this season, but theyve been an all-or-nothing kind of outfit. Theyre also riding on the accomplishments of the first few months of the season. Nine of their thirteen double-digit scoring binges came in April or May, and theres been a steady offensive slowdown as the Sox have trudged through the dog days of their schedule.
So its important to build on Mondays impressive showing against a very good team, and spread out the offensive over multiple nights while their starting pitching unit gets their house in order.
When Ellsbury and Crawford are healthy and they get into the rhythm that they can both be in, thats when this team is going to score a lot of runs. They set the table and they set the tone, said Gonzalez. After that its up to the middle of the order to drive them in. If they can be on base then we can score some runs.
In so many ways the Red Sox win over the Rangers was exactly the way Boston would conjure up a victory blueprint if such a thing existed in baseball. Its no mystery whats needed for the Sox to embark on an epic winning streak in the final 62 games of the regular season.
They need a lot more of what they showed in a short burst against a playoff caliber team, and its up to the big guns in the top four spots of the Boston lineup to provide it for them.