SEATTLE -- In the previous four games on their current road trip, the Red Sox had scored a grand total of seven runs, never scoring more than two in any one game.
The offensive drought was such that, in the preceding two games, John Farrell had taken to bunting runners over, playing small ball with a lineup that was projected to be among the game's most powerful.
So how to explain the Red Sox knocking around Felix Hernandez for four runs in six innings in a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners?
"Given the way things have been going,'' mused John Farrell, "four runs is a little bit of an outburst for us.''
The Sox got solo homers from Pablo Sandoval in the second and David Ortiz in the third. After that, Hernandez self-destructed a bit in the sixth, his final inning of work, when he issued three walks -- all to bottom half of the Red Sox batting order.
(Hernandez appeared to turn his ankle on the follow-through in his delivery, leading some to suggest that that factored into his sixth-inning bout of wildness. But Hernandez himself said that wasn't the case). Of the three hitters Hernandez walked that inning, two came around to score and provided the margin of victory.
"Particularly in the fifth and sixth innins,'' noted Farrell, "we didn't expand the strike zone. David's always swung the bat well against him and Pablo gets a first-pitch fastball that he drives out of the ballpark.
"But I thought, particularly in that sixth inning, when he didn't expand (the strike zone) took some pitches, forced the pitch count to be driven up a little bit and we took our walks when they were there. We had a very good overall approach tonight.''
Ortiz came into the game with a career .361 average against Hernandez and connected on a fastball in the third to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. It was his first homer after a drought of 68 at-bats.
"I don't know, I try to attack everyone,'' said Ortiz, at a loss to explain his success against the ace. "That's part of the game. Some guys get you out easily; some guys, you make it tough on them. I guess I've been a little lucky with my boy King (Felix), because he's not a guy you want to pick out of the bag and be like, 'I want to face him.' You know what I'm saying? His stuff is ridiculous.
"But I'm the kind of guy who likes to swing at strikes. He's one of the guys that I like to be patient with, so that I'm not chasing pitches out of the strike zone.''
Ortiz said he enjoys the challenge of facing a pitcher the quality of Hernandez, and the opposite may also be true.
"I guarantee that my numbers against aces are better than they are against other pitchers,'' said Ortiz, "and it's because they are up more to the challenge, more than anything else. They want to show you why they are so good, why they are aces and they challenge you more than (other) pitches.''
The battle was won by Ortiz and his teamamtes Saturday night, but Ortiz is hardly one to feel cocky about coming out on top.
"He's having a hell of a season,'' said Ortiz in admiration. "That's a guy I would love to have pitching for me.''