|The Sox come back and bury the A's behind Jackie Bradley|
ON THIS DATE (May 9, 2016) ... The Sox were in dangerous territory, down 4-1 early, and manager John Farrell had arms warming in the bullpen with an eye toward cutting off Clay Buchholz before things got worse. An inning later, the Sox were passing the bat down the lineup, running relays around the base paths, climbing out of the hole and throwing the A’s into it.
The six-run assault the Sox put together in the fourth, the key inning in burying the A’s, 14-7, was a display of how potent the Sox lineup has been. It wasn’t just because of the 15 hits and the season-high run total, but also because the damage seemed to come from every spot in the order.
All but one starter got into the hit column, four players had multi-hit games (including David Ortiz and Travis Shaw, both 3 for 5) nine players crossed the plate, and six players drove in runs. It’s been a pattern for a team that has put together 19 games with at least 10 hits this season and has homered at least once in each of the past 10.
If there was any indicator of how deep the Sox lineup has been, it’s that their most dangerous weapon of late has been tucked away at the bottom. No one did more damage to the A’s than Bradley, who went 3 for 5 with six RBIs, including a sixth-inning grand slam (the first of his career). He extended his career-long hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors. Bradley is, of course, cementing that view of his skills. He’s “only” on pace for 35 doubles though that’s in part because he is the major league leader with four triples, and also has four homers to boot.
He continues to smoke the ball to all fields, in a way that is more pronounced than at any prior time in his big league career. His grand slam was lined well past but just inside the Pesky Pole down the right-field line. Bradley is hitting the ball hard to the entire field in a way that represents a sign of his coming-of-age as a big league hitter. He’s hitting .303/.353/.550, making both slightly more contact (he’s trimmed his strikeout rate from 27.1 percent last year to 24.4 percent this year) as well as more consistently hard contact. Perhaps even more than last year, when he enjoyed a one-month run of brilliance, Bradley resembles the player who he was in the minors.
But the game swung in the fourth when the Sox batted around. Ortiz led off the inning by getting hold of a first-pitch fastball from A’s ace Sonny Gray and dropping it into the left-field corner. Hanley Ramirez singled to right to give the Sox runners at first and third. Then Shaw lined a Gray fastball up the middle. A’s center fielder Coco Crisp tried to make a diving play, but came up empty, allowing Ortiz to score and Ramirez to wheel to third. After Brock Holt struck out, Bradley shot a ground ball up the middle to plate Ramirez and Shaw. Betts doubled to left to score Bradley and Pedroia shot a single up the middle to score Betts.
Bogaerts worked a six-pitch walk and, suddenly, Ortiz was back at the plate. A’s manager Bob Melvin mercifully took the ball from Gray, but the Sox weren’t done. Ortiz lined a double to left to score Bogaerts for a 7-4 lead.
Even though Buchholz struggled, he was able to go five innings and the lift from the Sox lineup allowed him to walk away with his second win of the season.
Holt gave the Sox breathing room in the fifth with a two-run homer, but Bradley blew the game open in the sixth when he lifted a fly ball to right field that sneaked over the short fence for a back-breaking grand slam.
Coming in, the Sox led the American League in runs per game (5.03), batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.341), and slugging percentage (.454). The .281 average was 17 points higher than the next-closest club (Baltimore at .264). The Red Sox banged six doubles, and are now on pace for exactly 400 this year, well past the current record of 376, held by the 2008 Rangers. The Sox have now won seven of their last 10 games and 11 of their last 15. They matched their high-water mark for the season at six games over .500.