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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Red Sox Win 5th Straight Series, Punctuate 7-2 Homestand With 10-4 Thrashing Of Blue Jays

In terms of perfect scenarios, the Red Sox couldn't have asked for much more to happen this afternoon on getaway day at Fenway Park.

Boston (40-35, 21-21 home) got back to .500 at home and a season-high five games over .500 thanks to a 10-4 win against the Blue Jays (38-37, 19-22 away). The Red Sox took two of three from Toronto to end a wildly successful homestand at 7-2.

More importantly, the Red Sox have won five straight series and nine of their last 11 games overall to vault into a tie for third-place with the Tampa Bay Rays (who were swept in a three-game series by the Royals which ended this afternoon). Plus, Boston is now two games ahead of Toronto. It's the first time all season that the Red Sox haven't been fourth or fifth place in the ultra-competitive AL East.

The beauty of this game and what makes me wish I had attended is that it was over in a tidy 2 hours and 40 minutes even though there were a combined 14 runs, 17 hits and six different pitchers. Hell even the rain which looked imminent held off. I only wish that MLB and particularly the Red Sox' games were normally played at that pace, everyone would be so much happier.

Ricky Romero (8-2) beat the Red Sox a couple times last season but this was more typical of how he usually fares against Boston. A good pitcher vs. most teams, he can't do anything when he sees the Red Sox for whatever reason. This was over right away as Boston led 7-1 in the second inning. Romero went three innings, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on seven hits with six walks and one strikeout.

We can give Jon Lester (5-5) somewhat of a pass since he was simply trying to get outs once his teammates handed him such a big lead. He went seven innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits with four strikeouts.

Colby Rasmus gave the Blue Jays a very brief 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first.

Romero couldn't find the plate in the first and Boston took advantage. Dustin Pedroia had an RBI double, a run scored on an error, Will Middlebrooks drove in a run with a groundout, Mike Aviles (2 hits, 2 RBIs, run, stolen base) had an RBI single and Darnell McDonald had an RBI single to put the Red Sox on top 6-1.

Adrian Gonzalez (2 hits, 3 RBIs, run) had an RBI single in the second before Jose Bautista (25th of the season, 13th in June) took Lester deep in the fourth but it was only a solo home run.

Gonzalez, who's quietly on a eight-game hit streak, added another RBI single in the fifth while Aviles notched an RBI double.

Fittingly, David Ortiz (4 runs, 3 walks) closed it out with a solo homer (his 21st of the season) in the fifth. It was the 399th of his career which ties him with Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline for 49th in MLB history. Duke Snider is 48th with 407.

Edwin Encarnacion (22nd of the season) had a two-run blast in the sixth for the final margin.

Cody Ross was 2 for 3 with a double, walk and two runs scored in the lopsided win for the home team.

Boston plays four games in Seattle followed by three games in Oakland. It's their first visit to the West Coast this season and last road trip before the All-Star break (wild, I know). They need to take advantage of playing these mediocre AL West teams; the Red Sox beat the Mariners (32-45, 4th in AL West) both times they played at Fenway on May 14 and 15.

This time Boston doesn't miss Felix Hernandez (5-5) as he faces Franklin Morales (1-1) tomorrow night (10:10 p.m., NESN) in the series opener. Aaron Cook (1-1) gets Hector Noesi (2-9) on Friday night (10:10 p.m., NESN), Josh Beckett (4-7) returns from the DL on Saturday night against Erasmo Ramirez (0-2) and Felix Doubront (8-4) opposes Jason Vargas (7-7) in the series finale on Sunday afternoon (4:10 p.m., NESN).

Bigger picture: the Yankees put C.C. Sabathia on the DL today (he's expected to miss two starts) while Andy Pettitte broke his ankle pitching this afternoon so he'll be out 6-8 weeks. New York still won and they are up 6.5 games on Boston but now might be the time that the Red Sox get closer in the standings. Something to keep in mind. The Yankees also come to Fenway July 6-8 for the last series of the first half. If the Red Sox do well on this road trip, that could be a pretty meaningful weekend.

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