The Boston Red Sox hit 5 home runs tonight, including two by Jason Varitek and one by David Ortiz, on their way to an 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 38,099 very happy fans at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox (24-16) now move to 1.5 games behind the first place Blue Jays (27-16).
It took Big Papi 150 at-bats since his last home run back on September 22, 2008 to hit his first home run of the 2009 season. He finished the night 2-for-5 with the home run, a double and 2 RBIs. Both of Varitek's home runs were of the solo variety. Jason Bay had 2 hits as well including a monster shot over the Green Monster and finished with 2 RBIs while Mike Lowell also had 2 hits, including a home run and an RBI.
Kevin Youkilis made his return to the Red Sox lineup after a stint on the disabled list and had 3 hits on the night. Jacoby Ellsbury had a single to extend his hitting streak to an AL-best 15 games. Ellsbury also tied a MLB record with 12 putouts on the night. All nine starters for the Sox had at least one hit.
Brad Penny made the start for the Red Sox and pitched well. He wasn't spectacular but once again was good enough to get the job done. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 9 hits and a walk while striking out 2. It was his fourth straight start of at least 6 innings.
It took Manny Delcarmen all of 2 pitches to retire the only batter he faced. Daniel Bard lit up the radar gun but had a tough outing in his first Fenway Park appearance as he gave up a run on 3 hits. Hideki Okajima bailed out Bard by getting the only batter he faced out on 3 pitches. Takashi Saito allowed 2 hits in the 9th inning.
Brett Cecil was making just his 4th big league start and it was one he probably wants to forget.
He lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing 8 runs on 11 hits (5 home runs) and 2 walks while striking out 3. Shawn Camp, Brian Wolfe and B.J. Ryan combined to keep the Red Sox scoreless over the final 3 1/3 innings.
Varitek got things started in the 3rd inning when he took a hanging breaking ball from Cecil and planted it in the Green Monster seats. Julio Lugo then doubled and went to third on Ellsbury's bunt single that Cecil almost caught but ended up doing a face plant into the ground on. After a brief injury delay, Cecil got Dustin Pedroia to ground into a double play as Lugo scored to make it 2-0 Red Sox.
The Red Sox erupted in the 5th inning for 6 runs on 4 home runs.
Varitek once again led off the inning with a solo home run. After a Lugo ground out, Ellsbury walked and then Pedroia doubled. Ellsbury tried to score from first but was thrown out at the plate although I thought he looked safe. This set the stage for Big Papi.
Cecil left a pitch out over the plate that Papi drove into the camera well in center field for his first home run of the season that gave the Red Sox a 5-0 lead (video
). He got the initial cold shoulder from his teammates in the dugout and then was mobbed. The Fenway Park also gave him a nice ovation when he made the curtain call. The inning wasn't over yet though.
Youkilis followed the Papi blast with a single and he came around to score when Bay hit an absolute bomb into the parking lot behind the Green Monster to make it 7-0. Lowell then went back-to-back with Bay as his home run landed in the Green Monster seats to make it 8-0 and chase Cecil from the game. Rocco Baldelii added a triple but was left there when Camp struck out Varitek.
Penny's worst inning of the night came in the 7th inning.
Lyle Overbay led off with a triple and came around to score on a Rod Barajas single. Travis Snider followed with a single that saw Barajas go to third. Penny then got Marcos Scutaro to ground into a double play as Barajas to make it 8-2.
The Jays would another run in the 8th off of Bard on an Overbay double.
Another great win for the Red Sox as they are now 15-4 at Fenway Park. Once again, Penny did enough to get the job done although with the offense rolling tonight he didn't have to do much. With that said, I expect Penny to be the odd man out when John Smoltz makes his debut in June barring a setback in his rehab.
How nice was it to see Big Papi be Big Papi? He got good extension on the swing and his body was in alignment. The best part was that he was able to get a double later on in the game. While it may be too early to tell if he is fully back yet (we need a few more games), it was nice to see him finally happy on the field.
The Red Sox will look to go for the sweep tomorrow night when Jon Lester squares off with rookie Robert Ray. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.
Notes and musings:
Toronto Blue Jays @ Boston Red Sox 5.20.09 box score
At 2 hours and 13 minutes, last night matched Boston’s shortest 9-inning contest this season, done last in Tim Wakefield’s complete game on April 15 at Oakland. The last time the Red Sox played a shorter 9-inning game at Fenway Park was May 23, 2003 vs. Cleveland (2 hours, 8 minutes), a span of 478 home tilts.
The Sox have played 5 games this year in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less. Wakefield has started 4 of those contests. Since 2005, Boston has played 54 games in 2 and a half hours or less, of which Wakefield has started 28 (52 percent).
Jacoby Ellsbury became just the 5th Red Sox outfielder since 1954 to record multiple hitting streaks of at least 15 games before his 26th birthday. He had a career-high 18- gamer from September 5-28, 2008.
In his last 8 games played on May 20th, Jason Varitek has 9 home runs. This was the second time on May 20th he has had multiple home runs. It was also the 8th multiple home run game of his career.
Terry Francona has 494 career wins as Red Sox manager, 6 shy of reaching 500. He ranks 3rd in club history behind Joe Cronin (1,071) and Mike Higgins (560).
John Smoltz (15-day DL – right shoulder surgery) is scheduled to make a rehab start for Single-A Greenville at Augusta (Giants) tomorrow at 7:05 p.m.