As the Red Sox fell in a disappointing series loss to the Angels this week, it wasn’t for a lack of chances. In a pair of close losses to end their West Coast trip, they couldn’t come up with the big hit, a staple of this team all season long.
There was no such issue as they returned home on Friday.
After a cross-country flight back to Boston for the final three games before the All-Star break, it might have been easy for the Red Sox to sleepwalk through this weekend’s series with the Phillies. But if Friday night is any indication, they’re intent on finishing their stronger-than-expected first half with a bang. The offense woke from its brief slumber to put a hurting on the Phils, smashing three homers en route to a 11-5 victory at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox (55-34), following a 3-3 road trip in which they produced just 3.7 runs per game, picked up right where they left off from their unbeaten homestand, one they finished with a 15-1 shelling of the Royals. They tagged Phillies starter Vince Velasquez for seven runs and erased two early deficits, using big home runs from J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers to fuel them to their ninth consecutive win at home.
It wasn’t looking so good early as Garrett Richards and his endless search to rediscover himself continued with a lackluster first two innings. He spotted the Phillies a 1-0 lead after allowing a leadoff triple and double to start the game. Then, after the Red Sox took the lead, immediately surrendered it back in the second.
Lucky for Richards, though, he has a few All-Stars anchoring the heart of the lineup.
The Red Sox rallied again in the second as Bobby Dalbec doubled and Alex Verdugo to put two on for J.D. Martinez, who continued his recent hot streak by hammering a Velasquez fastball to the right field bleachers for his 18th homer of the season, giving the Sox a 5-3 lead they didn’t relinquish.
Devers smoked his 22nd homer of the season in the third, a 419-foot solo blast that just made it out above the wall in the triangle. That sparked a four-run third inning in which the Sox put an early end to Velasquez’s night. Martinez completed the frame with an 11-pitch at-bat against reliever Enyel De Los Santos that ended with an RBI ground-rule double to right that gave the Sox a commanding 9-3 lead.
Other takeaways from Friday’s win:
* Richards settled down after a shaky first and second as he finished his outing with three scoreless innings. The right-hander is still adjusting since MLB’s mandate prohibiting the use of foreign substances, but he’ll go into the All-Star break with something to build on after back-to-back encouraging outings. He doesn’t pitch again until after next weekend’s series against the Yankees, giving him about 10 days to work on things.
* Kiké Hernandez hit yet another leadoff home run in the first inning, a shot over the Green Monster that quickly tied the game at 1. The center fielder is on a tear over the last two weeks since returning to the leadoff spot, now hitting four leadoff homers in that span. He now has five on the season.