I don't know about anyone else, but I still wasn't feeling too good about the Red Sox win against Miami in the first game of this series. They seemed to win more because of the Marlins' numerous mistakes than anything else. Still, a win is a win and style points aren't awarded...they all count the same in the standings. It seemed as though the Sox were set up better to win the series finale with David Price on the mound, but given how things have been going for this team lately nothing could ever be as straightforward as it appears.
Price has been red hot lately and he's been the Red Sox best pitcher by far over the last month. However, he got off to a shaky start when he gave up a solo homer to Derek Dietrich in the second inning. Eduardo Nunez, who has been swinging a very good bat over the last couple of weeks, answered with a solo shot of his own (his second in as many games) in the bottom of the inning to tie it up. Price coughed up more runs in the third when he gave up two: first, an RBI double toJT Realmuto and then an RBI single to Starlin Castro. It was also in this inning where Price took a line drive off the wrist and had to leave the game. It just seemed as though the Sox couldn't catch a break, even after Mookie Betts homered to make it 3-2 Miami. The Marlins picked up another run in the fifth when Castro drove in another run with a single and you could feel the angst building at Fenway Park (and in my living room). How could the best team in baseball be struggling for the second night in a row to a borderline major league roster?
JD Martinez' single in the sixth drove in Mookie but it was still 4-3 Marlins and when Miami picked up another run in the seventh on a Realmuto fielder's choice, it seemed like it just wasn't Boston's night. Then the bottom of the seventh happened. The Red Sox went on to score a season-high eleven runs in that inning, starting with Blake Swihart's RBI single to bring in Nunez (who led off the inning). Jackie Bradley doubled to drive in Ian Kinsler and tie the game and from there the flood gates opened. Mookie's double drove in Swihart and Bradley and then Brock Holt hit a stand-up triple to push Mookie across. Xander Bogaerts singled to drive in Holt and then Nunez singled to drive in JD, but they weren't done yet. Kinsler's single, Swihart's double, and Bradley's single drove in four more runs total and when the dust settled the Red Sox were all of a sudden up 14-5. It was enough of a cushion that even yet another home run given up by the Red Sox bullpen (Ryan Brasier this time) didn't hurt as the Sox earned the series sweep with a 14-6 win.
It was harder than it needed to be, but the team responded when push came to shove and with the Yankees losing their game (and series!) to the White Sox, the division lead was expanded to 7.5 games. Except for Andrew Benintendi, Steve Pearce, and Sandy Leon every Red Sox hitter had a hit and of those, they all had multi-hit games except for JD and Xander. Mookie also reclaimed the batting average lead by pushing his average up to .340 while JD's slipped to .337. As for the pitching, it wasn't too pretty but it was enough to get the job done although going forward it's a growing concern given the caliber of teams Boston will be facing in September.
For now, though, let's enjoy a series sweep and a bit more breathing room in the division. The Sox head to Chicago for four games against the White Sox (who just took two of three from the Yankees in New York). While they're in last place in the AL Central, they've got a lot of talent and are a better team than the Marlins so the Red Sox may have their hands full. The Pale Hose also took two of three from Boston at Fenway earlier in the season (along with Oakland they're one of only two teams who currently have a winning record against Boston this season). Rick Porcello will start the opening game Thursday night and needs to rebound from his poor outings over the last couple of weeks. This series begins the stretch run into September so every game counts from here on out...it should be a fun ride to the end!