BOSTON -- To get an idea of what has happened to the Red Sox during their impressive August surge, you can examine the game-turning bottom of the seventh inning in Friday night's thrilling 9-6 victory over the Yankees.In the span of less than three weeks, Boston has gone from a
BOSTON -- To get an idea of what has happened to the Red Sox during their impressive August surge, you can examine the game-turning bottom of the seventh inning in Friday night's thrilling 9-6 victory over the Yankees.
In the span of less than three weeks, Boston has gone from a team that lacked consistency as an offense to one that has turned into a relentless unit that is never out of a game.
In doing so, the Sox have won 13 out of 15 to build a five-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East. During the satisfying stretch, the Red Sox have averaged 6.27 runs per game, the best in the AL.
If a team could get deflated, it likely would have happened to the Red Sox after the Yankees scored four in the top of the seventh on Friday to overturn what had once been a 3-0 deficit into a 6-3 lead.
Instead, the Red Sox turned the tables right back on their rivals during an inning in which six players worked their way on base and a seventh came through with an important sacrifice fly.
"We have a lot of different ways to generate runs," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I love the fact that there's quality at-bats up and down the lineup. We're going to take opportunities to advance 90 feet. It's just the tenacity of the group as a whole. Once we turned into the month of August, the offense has turned it on. It's not any one guy."
It's a lot of guys.
Christian Vazquez started the big rally with a one-out, line-drive single to left-center against Chad Green for his third hit of the night. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a walk and the Yankees went to righty setup man Tommy Kahnle. An infield single by Eduardo Nunez loaded the bases and created the feeling that the Red Sox were again going to generate a memorable comeback.
"We have a lot of faith in one another," said Bradley. "We feel like if one person doesn't get the job done, we feel like the next person will. And when you have that faith in each other, you can put together some great things."
After Nunez came Mookie Betts, and many in the rowdy Fenway faithful were thinking grand slam. Betts instead lifted a sacrifice fly and it was a two-run game.
Up came Andrew Benintendi, and he got a 1-1 changeup he liked and smashed it into right for an RBI single. Just like that, it was a one-run game. If the additions of Nunez and Rafael Devers have been keys to the August hot streak, the resurgence of Benintendi can't be overlooked. The rookie is hitting .392 in August with 14 runs, three doubles, five homers and 14 RBIs.
The baton was then passed to Hanley Ramirez, and the veteran battled his way to a seven-pitch walk.
Now it was bases loaded and Mitch Moreland coming on as a pinch-hitter for Chris Young. Moreland swung and missed at two straight changeups. Perhaps he had Kahnle just where he wanted. The next pitch was also a changeup and Moreland smoked it into center for a two-run single. The Red Sox were back in front at 7-6, and added two more in the eighth on Bradley's two-run single against Albertin Chapman, who has struggled all season in rivalry games.
"Executing. Execution is key," said Bradley. "We're able to get timely hits. We've been able to battle back from deficits and I think we're just not quitting. We want to be tough outs, and when we put together great at-bats, we kind of feed off each other."
It has been a feeding frenzy of late, and the Yankees are the latest opponent to pay the price.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.