Haggerty: Red Sox offense historically good

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Haggerty: Red Sox offense historically good

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON So many around the Red Sox are accustomed to hulkingoffensive numbers and punishingly professional at bats over the last decade.

Some have probably become a bit spoiled at this point in the golden era of baseball in Boston, and simply expect offensive prowess and hitting greatness as an automatic right.

But relative newcomers like John Lackey and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have witnessed offenses outside of the Friendly Fenway confines firsthand, and know just how good they have it playing pepper with theGreenMonsteron Yawkey Way.

Weve got a lot of good players, man," Lackey said. "We got some guys that can swing it. Its fun to watch, for sure. "Youre okay sitting over there on the benchfor some extra home half innings to watch ralliesand get a lot of offensive run support. I was hoping for things like that. Thats one of the reasons I came here. I spent so many years in Anaheim and it wasnt exactly like that. So its fun to watch.

The Sox have always scored a ton of runs and fared exceedingly well at Fenway Park this season, but theyve taken it to ridiculous levels over the last month. Not only are the Sox 18-4 during the month of July, but theyve also mercilessly beaten down mediocre pitching staffs during the dog days of the season. They've averaged 5.56 runs per game during the season and lead all of baseball with 567 runs scored, but they're averaging a shade under seven runs per game in July.

It happened again on Wednesday night as Bruce Chen was reminded just how fringe a journeymen he really is by an efficient Red Sox attack that cranked out double-digit hits for the 11th straight game at Fenway. The Sox have posted double-digit hits 52 times this year to tie them with the Texas Rangers for the lead in Major League baseball, and theyve posted double-digit runs 16 times this season with the latest coming inthe 12-5 drubbing of Kansas City.Much of the effectiveness comes from their unrelenting lineup depth.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia have wreaked havoc on opposing teams pitchers and defense at the top of the lineup. The trio of Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz have formed the pitchers version of a meat grinder in the heart of the order and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Marco Scutaro have given the Sox opportunistic offensive playersat the bottom third of the lineup.

Ortiz has his ideas about the special sauce thats making the Sox perform so well when they walk up to the dish.

I think it's Ellsbury and Pedroia," he said. "Theyre making it tough on everyone else. What theyre doing at the top of the lineup is ridiculous. You dont get that on daily basis from your first and second-hole hitter. It puts so much pressure on the pitcher that Im pretty sure it will get the pitcher out of control a little bit.

There is no weakness, no safe haven and no escape for all but the best of big league hurlers toeing the rubber against Boston, and the Red Sox know it each time they dig in to hit. David Ortiz has taken part in some historic offensive lineups in Boston during his time playing tag team partners with Manny Ramirez, but even the designated hitter admitted this one might just be the best.Not the 2003 team that ranks among the best Sox hitting lineups of all time, or the 2004 and 2007 teams dangerous enough to capture the World Series. But the very Sox team that's taken up residence during the summer of 2011.

Its fun. It is fun especially the way we started out the season, said Ortiz. Everybody around here gets ready to play and win ballgames. I dont know, don't want to talk about it too early because weve got two months left, but everything Ive seen from head to toe is what you really want to be a part of.

The numbers back it up as well. The Sox are first in nearly every important offensive category, and their robust month of July has seen them post an .886 OPS during the prolific month a mark that is the teams highest since putting up a .945 OPS during June of 2003 and ranks up with their best months of the 1996 (.904 in June) and 1950 (.914 in May) Sox seasons.

Thats exactly the kind of total base and run-scoring machine GM Theo Epstein envisioned when he coaxedall the pieces together this winter, and the players are recognizing just how unique things are right in the middle of their batting binge.

Weve got a good ball club from top to bottom," Saltalamacchia said. "The one thing we have is confidence and were going to go out there and play our game. "Getting guys comfortable and getting guys at bats, thats when youre going to start seeing things like this. We just needed to get healthy.

Youve got guys here that are established. We had a couple of guys in Texas that were established like Mike Young, but here youve got guys that have been around the game for a long time. They bring a lot to the game and help each other out.

The only thing not getting helped out right now: the ERA of opposing pitching staffs unlucky enough to come across the Red Sox hitters during one heck of a hitting spree.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.