Red Sox unleash offense to romp past Giants
Middlebrooks, Drew homer to help back Doubront's great start
SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after they endured one of their more frustrating defeats of the season, all seemed right again for the Red Sox on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.
Backed by a batting barrage and a surgical pitching performance by lefty Felix Doubront, Boston rolled to a 12-1 victory in the rubber match of a three-game series against the Giants.
Considering that the Red Sox had lost eight out of 12 coming into this one, it was just the type of well-rounded performance they needed heading into Thursday's off-day and then a three-game weekend showdown in Los Angeles against the red-hot Dodgers.
"Well, series wins are good, especially on the road," said manager John Farrell. "On the heels of last night, it was just a good way to come out in a day game and put up a good strong effort."
Doubront (9-6) set just the type of tone his team needed, firing eight strong innings. He allowed five hits and a run, walking one and striking out three.
It was a nice bounceback performance from the lefty, who had struggled in his last two starts after a strong three-month stretch.
"Throwing the ball down," Doubront said. "That was my routine these last few days and in my bullpen, just throwing the ball down. I was able to do that; I was working fast and getting those hitters, making good pitches and throwing strikes. I was able to throw strikes down in the zone."
The offense came from all over the lineup, but started at the top with Jacoby Ellsbury, who belted three hits and stole a base. Shane Victorino ripped three hits from the No. 2 spot. And third-place hitter Dustin Pedroia belted three hits, including two doubles, giving Boston's 1-2-3 spots in the order an 8-for-13 afternoon.
But it didn't stop there. Stephen Drew hammered a three-run homer. Will Middlebrooks put Boston up early with a two-run shot.
"And when you look at the bottom half with driving in runs, it was very good production up and down," said Farrell. "Will has come back to us and really swung the bat well in the time back here. He gets us on the board first with a two-run homer and like I said, a lot of quality at-bats today."
Joaquin Arias lofted a solo homer to left against Doubront in the bottom of the second, making it a 2-1 game.
"Everything was working," said Doubront. "The home run was my decision to throw that cutter, but it was a good pitch and he put a good swing on it.
But that homer was offset when Boston did more damage against Barry Zito in the third. Ellsbury led off with a single to right and stole second. Victorino reached on a bunt single. Pedroia followed with an RBI double into the corner in left. Jonny Gomes blooped a two-run single to left and just like that, the Sox had a 5-1 lead.
Though Gomes doesn't play every day, he always seems to make a contribution when he does.
"He has a compact swing -- student of the game," said Farrell. "Always prepared and ready to go. He knew yesterday when they announced Zito was going to start that he'd be in there today. When he has a full 24 hours to prepare in a starting role, he seems to come up big."
Boston broke it open with a five-spot in the seventh, fueled by a two-run single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Drew's three-run rocket to right.
The way the game played out, Farrell got a chance to do some tinkering for the final few innings.
David Ortiz, who has been bothered by some general soreness, particularly in his lower back, was replaced by Mike Napoli in the bottom of the fifth.
And Middlebrooks was moved from third base to second base for the final three innings. From what Middlebrooks could remember, it was the first time he's played second base in his life. He was a shortstop in high school.
Somehow, he looked at ease, completing a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Hunter Pence.
"That was out of nowhere," said Middlebrooks. "I wasn't expecting it -- that was a lot of fun."
When the Red Sox recalled prospect Xander Bogaerts on Monday and sent Brock Holt back to the Minors, it left the club without a backup second baseman.
Enter Middlebrooks, who will be happy to play the part until rosters are expanded Sept. 1.
"I haven't turned a play up the middle since I was 18 in Texarkana, Texas, so it's been awhile," said Middlebrooks.
For the Red Sox, getaway day wound up being a highly successful mission.
"To win this series was definitely a good thing because we're going up against a very hot and talented team down in L.A.," said Farrell.