For at least one game in May, the Boston Red Sox played like a club that shares more than just a name with the team that played in April. In defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 9-2 on Wednesday, the Red Sox displayed the potent offense and stifling pitching that have been far too absent of late. They also were able to climb to within two games of the AL East lead.
Any game that sees a team put nine runs on the scoreboard will justifiably have the spotlight shone almost entirely on the offense. Wednesday’s contest is no exception as the way in which the Red Sox lineup hit allowed them to post a batting line of .270 BA/.325 OBP/.541 SLG with a .369 wOBA and a win probability added of 0.38.
While the batting average and on-base percentage are not overly impressive, the Red Sox hit with so much power when they did collect hits that they will still be able to put up a fantastic overall batting line. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly for a club that has struggled so mightily with runners in scoring position lately, the Red Sox collected five hits in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
All five of their hits came in the third inning when the Red Sox did the majority of their offensive damage and scored a total of eight runs. Against both Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price and relief pitcher Jaret Wright, who relieved Price after Price suffered a triceps injury, the Red Sox put an outstanding eight out of 11 batters on base.
All told, the Red Sox went from a win expectancy of 50.0 percent at the beginning of the third inning to a win expectancy of 98.3 percent by its conclusion. The biggest hit for the Red Sox was the RBI single by Dustin Pedroia that started the scoring; it netted Pedroia a win probability added of 0.155.
Will Middlebrooks added a solo home run in the eighth inning to cap off the Red Sox scoring for the contest, but it came too late to do much more than pad the Red Sox hitting statistics.
Backing up the Red Sox offense was starting pitcher Jon Lester, who in allowing the Rays to score just two earned runs over 7.0 innings secured his sixth victory of the season. It was another dominant display by Lester as he struck out five, walked none, and posted impressive earned run statistics across the board (2.57 ERA, 2.02 FIP, and 3.26 xFIP).
Each of his earned run statistics was an improvement on what he has done for the season, meaning he was at his best on Wednesday against the Rays.
Would that every Red Sox game saw them play in such a dominating and efficient fashion. However, it will be interesting to see if they will be able to sustain this level of play. The last time they won a game, a 5-0 victory on May 10 where Lester was also the winning pitcher, they followed it up by losing three straight.
If the Red Sox want to build on this impressive victory, they will need to avoid repeating history.