It has taken the last seven to prove that wrong.
The defending champs, on the verge of disaster just a week ago, won
their seventh straight on Sunday. They rode Jon Lester's pitching
and four doubles by rookie infielder Brock Holt to a 4-0 win over
the floundering Tampa Bay Rays.
"Very good starting pitching, in a couple of cases we've been able
to have a big inning to come from behind, our bullpen has been very
consistent and outstanding to give us those opportunities late,"
Boston manager John Farrell said after his team sent the last-place
Rays to their sixth straight loss.
Added Farrell: "As we came back in that Memorial Day game in
Atlanta, that five-run fifth inning has been somewhat the jump start
to all this and we've played with a lot more confidence."
The Red Sox have done all of this with important lineup parts Mike
Napoli and Shane Victorino and two starting pitchers on the disabled
list. The starters followed Clay Buchholz's bad start on Memorial
Day with six straight strong outings, two of them resulting in the
first two shutouts of the season. The only run the bullpen has
allowed came on an inside-the-park homer on Saturday night after
center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was conked on the nose as the ball
came off the wall.
In other words, everything is working.
On a normal day, Lester would have been the story as he evened his
record at 6-6 with seven shutouts innings. He struck out 12 and
allowed only four hits. But on this day, the story was first baseman
That's right, first baseman Holt. With Mike Carp diagnosed with a
broken foot, Holt played the position for the first time on any
level. He dropped a low throw in the eighth inning but had the four
doubles, a walk, two RBIs, a stolen base and a run scored.
After going 6-for-9 the last two games, Holt is hitting .337 -- and
Farrell has made it clear he wants this rookie on the field. Look
for him at first base Monday night when the recently re-signed
Stephen Drew returns at shortstop and rookie Xander Bogaerts slides
over to third base.
Two of Holt's four hits were shaky -- a wind-blown two-run double
aided by Sean Rodriguez looking lost in the corner and the other
clanging off Rodriguez's glove. Holt is the sixth Red Sox hitter
with four doubles in a game since 1914.
"It was a fun day any time you can go out and do something like
that," Holt said. "I had a little luck today as well but all in all
it was a good day."
Not for the Rays, who put right fielder Wil Myers on the disabled
list -- the third Ray this week to hit the DL -- before the game.
Tampa Bay has scored five runs in the last four games.
"It's kind of been like that the whole season," said manager Joe
Maddon. "We'll have a couple really good offensive days, then it
kind of goes away. I'll credit their pitching. Their pitching was
very good once again. But we have to figure out how to break
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The Red Sox, who have allowed six runs in the last five games, are
only the third team in major league history to follow a double-digit
losing streak with a seven-game winning run. No team has ever won
eight in a row in that situation.
Outfielder/first baseman Alex Hasson and infielder Garin Cecchini,
making their major league debuts, both had their first big league
hits for Boston. Cecchini entered the game after second baseman
Dustin Pedroia was ejected by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn after
the third inning.
Cecchini, who, according to Farrell was at Fenway Park and dressed
by 7 a.m., had an RBI double in the seventh inning and started a
nifty 5-3 double play in the eighth. He was optioned back to
Pawtucket after the game.
Hassan singled and scored in a three-run fourth inning. He also had
Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, who once pitched for the Red Sox,
fell to 2-4 with the loss.
The six straight Rays losses, all on the road, came after a
four-game winning streak. Tampa scored three runs in three games in
Boston in falling to 23-34.
NOTES: Tampa Bay RF Wil Myers was placed on the 15-day disabled list
with a right wrist sprain suffered on Friday night's game-ending
play. OF Jerry Sands was selected to the 40-man roster and was
Sunday's DH, hitting cleanup. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
... Boston recalled INF Garin Cecchini from Triple-A Pawtucket and
optioned RHP Alex Wilson. ... SS Yunel Escobar was in the original
Tampa lineup but was a late scratch for the straight game with a
tight quad. He pinch hit late and stayed in the game. ... Recently
re-signed SS Stephen Drew is expected to play Monday night, when RHP
John Lackey opens the Red Sox's nine-game road trip in Cleveland.
... RHP Alex Cobb opens Tampa Bay's four-game/two-city series
against the Miami Marlins on Monday night.
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