Red Sox' bats explode in 14-5 win over Padres

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Red Sox' bats explode in 14-5 win over Padres

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BOSTON -- For 6 12 innings, a game between the team with best record in the American League and one with the third-worst record in the National League was surprisingly close.

Then reality set in.

The Red Sox, with great help from the San Diego Padres' bullpen, ripped off 10 runs in the bottom of the seventh to waltz to a 14-5 victory in interleague play.

In the seventh alone, San Diego pitchers walked four and hit two others as the Sox scored nine runs after two were out. The 10 runs came in an inning when the Sox had just five hits, two from Adrian Gonzalez, who knocked in three runs against his former team with a double and single.

The Sox had a 3-0 lead after five, thanks to a run-scoring single and RBI-double from David Ortiz plus a bases-loaded double play from Jacoby Ellsbury.

But the Padres knotted things in the sixth when Orlando Hudson, fresh off the disabled list, launched a three-run homer into the Monster Seats, spoiling an otherwise impressive Red Sox debut from Andrew Miller.

Miller pitched 5 23 innings, allowing three runs while walking three and striking out six.

Matt Albers, who stranded a runner in the sixth and pitched a scoreless seventh, picked up the win.

STAR OF THE GAME: Adrian Gonzalez
Just in case the Padres forgot how good their former first baseman was, he reminded them with three hits and three RBI.

Gonzalez had a first inning single, then came up twice in the 10-run seventh, delivering a run-scoring double and then a two-run single.

HONORABLE MENTION: Andrew Miller
Miller missed out on getting the win when he gave up a three-run homer to Orlando Hudson, but there was plenty to like about his Red Sox debut.

He pitched 5 23 innings, struck out six and walked three. His fastball regularly registered in the mid-90s and he limited the damage well, particularly in the fourth when he allowed a leadoff triple to Jesus Guzman, but stranded him there.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Ernesto Frieri
The Padres' reliever Frieri faced five hitters in the seventh inning, retiring the first (Kevin Youkilis) on a flyout. He then walked two and hit two -- both with the bases loaded -- and was charged with four runs in just one-third of an inning.

TURNING POINT: When the visitor's bullpen door opener with one out in the seventh...and three walks, two hits batsman and four hits followed in the Red Sox' 10-run uprising.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Red Sox are averaging slightly more than 11 runs per game in their five interleague victories this season.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "Generally, I think it was very good...I certainly want to avoid (walks), but they didn't pile up. I was able to throw all three pitches for strikes, most of the time.'' Andrew Miller, evaluating his own command.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Drellich: Pomeranz among reasons Red Sox pitching depth is so good

Drellich: Pomeranz among reasons Red Sox pitching depth is so good

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz’s first start in a Boston uniform of at least six innings and three hits or fewer came Wednesday night, 364 days after his first start with the Red Sox following a trade with the Padres last July.

The lefty’s consistency this season has been one of the most pleasant surprises, and ultimately a stabilizing force in the Boston rotation. The Red Sox are 9-2 in his last 11 starts and he’s gone at least six innings in six of his last seven now. His ERA in that span is 2.13.

"I had a good year last year, but I feel really good this year with all my pitches," Pomeranz said. "I feel really good with all my pitches on both sides of the plate, which is something I've never really had before. I've made some adjustments mechanically, where I am on the rubber and things. Just really tried to focus on pitching arm-side with everything, which I was always good on glove side. I think that has helped me put this string together."

The rotation is deep. Deep enough that the Sox are slotting in seven pitchers in a seven-game stretch. Somehow, there were eight starting pitchers on the Red Sox roster Tuesday. One of them, Brian Johnson, started in a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays that took 15 innings, and another, Hector Velazquez, finished it out in extras.

Both Johnson and Velazquez went to the minors on Wednesday when the Sox added Ben Taylor and Kyle Martin to the bullpen, the latter getting to the big leagues for the first time. 

But the contributions of Johnson and Velazquez on Tuesday, followed up by Pomeranz’s work on Wednesday, are indicative of an increasing strength for the 2017 Sox: not just the very top of the rotation, but its depth.

That depth, you’ll recall, was never assured. Far, far from it. 

David Price was injured at year’s start. Pomeranz’s health was in question to begin the year. 

Steven Wright was lost for the season. Velazquez’s first big league start looked bad. Kyle Kendrick’s time in the majors did not go well. Eduardo Rodriguez was lost for a month and a half because of a knee injury.

Yet the Red Sox entered Wednesday with the third-best rotation ERA in the American League, 4.09. Chris Sale and Price are as frightening a potential playoff one-two punch as you can find. 

There's a lot more going on.

“There’s always the adage you never have enough pitching and certainly when you start Brian Johnson, what’s he had, four major league starts in his career?” Pitching coach Carl Willis said before Johnson’s start Tuesday. “So, while there’s still a certain amount of inexperience there, we’ve seen the ability play out. We’ve seen him go out and throw a nine inning shutout here in Fenway Park. Hector Velazquez has stepped in a couple of situations and pitched very well his second time back with the club and Doug Fister is a guy who has had some very very good years. 

“And while he’s maybe not exactly the same guy he was six, seven years ago, he’s still a guy with four pitches and he understands how to pitch, how to change speeds. So you know, when you look at the front end with Sale, with Price throwing as he is, with Pomeranz throwing as he is now, getting Eddy back, it’s a very very talented group of guys that we feel very confident in.”

Price, somehow, is throwing harder this year than last.

“You know, I can’t tell you 100 percent the reason why,” Willis said. “I think some of it is his possibly attributed to when you have an injury, the rehab process and how the throwing is monitored and the strengthening factor of that rehab process is, I think, so much more intensified or detailed because you’re dealing with certain specific areas. 

“I really think, you know, it’s a byproduct of those things, and it’s been a pleasure to watch. Obviously, he was dominating on Sunday night in a game that we really needed a performance like that. It gives you. A lot of optimism going forward to see him throw the baseball like that.”

Porcello seems to have righted the ship, with a 3.31 ERA in his last five starts.

“I do [think he’s turned a corner],” Willis said. “I felt for a while that he was close, that he was making small steps getting there. We’re seeing much better command now at the bottom of the strike zone, and that allows him to at times then elevate. But it starts with the bottom of the zone, and I think he’s in a place right now, we’re starting to see that consistency of that.

"And when he does that, hey, he’s still a contact-oriented pitcher and there are going to be ground balls and there are going to be some hits. But that’s who he is, and he can be successful that way, as we’ve seen. And I think he’s at that point right now."

Throw in the healthy return of Rodriguez and the continued success of Pomeranz and extras like Fister, Johnson and Velazquez, the Red Sox have choices. Options.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski arguably took a risk when he dealt away, of all people, Clay Buchholz. Buchholz, of course, wound up needing surgery once he got to the Phillies.

But the Sox pitching situation felt far from comfortable to begin the year, for one reason or another. It's comfy now — about as comfy as can be, anyway. And Dombrowski and the Red Sox, from the medical staff to the coaching staff to the pitchers themselves, deserve credit for getting to this point.