The Red Sox offense was back in form despite an unusual lineup Friday night, scoring seven runs against Jeff Francis and the Royals to back Andrew Miller's strong start.
It had been weeks since Miller made a start, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect some rust from the oft-wild lefty, but one way or another Miller made it work Friday. He sent the Royals down in order in the first, and worked around a double in the second. It wasn't until the third that the Royals pushed a run across off of him, and though Jacoby Ellsbury may have saved more with a terrific grab in right-center, he limited the damage to just the one.
The Red Sox had already shown that they could hit Francis in the first, loading the bases before Ryan Lavarnway grounded out to end the threat. They even had a moment of deja vu in the third, as Lavarnway again stepped to the plate with three men on and--while his contact was better this time--flew out to right, again stranding everyone. It wasn't until the middle innings that they ultimately broke through.
It started in the fourth with Carl Crawford leading off the frame with a double to right field, and continued when Darnell McDonald hit a long fly ball that dropped just past the outstretched glove of Melky Cabrera, allowing McDonald to scamper into third with an RBI triple. A sac fly from Ellsbury later, and the Sox took the lead.
They would build that lead one inning later. Jed Lowrie led off with a single, and then moved to second as Ryan Lavarnway finally picked up his first hit--a sharp ground ball to right field. One out later, and up stepped Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty had, like the rest of the team, been experiencing a quiet August, seeing his OPS drop more than 40 points. And, down 0-2, he didn't swing at the best of pitches--a low changeup--but somehow or another he got all of it, dropping nearly to one knee and taking Francis very deep to give the Sox a sizable 5-3 lead.
With Andrew Miller being pulled in the fifth, the rest of the game was largely a matter of mopping up. The Sox put up a couple more in the eighth thanks to a hit batsman (Ellsbury), a Mike Aviles double, and an error from Alcides Escobar, but they wouldn't need it. Alfredo Aceves entered when Miller left, and once again proved his worth to the Sox, recording eleven outs while allowing just one baserunner, picking up his second save of the season via the route less-traveled, and leaving the Sox on top 7-1.