32 games after starting 2-10, the Red Sox have pulled within a half game of the AL East lead and are now the frontrunners in the wild card race. All this on the back of a 15-5 rout of the Chicago Cubs Friday as they returned to Fenway for the first time in 93 years.
The scoring started early for the Red Sox, as their first four batters of the game reached base. Jacoby Ellsbury would score on a throwing error he forced by stealing second and third, and Dustin Pedroia crossed the plate on a single off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez. While the Sox seemed poised to break things open, Adrian Gonzalez opted to remain at third base on a David Ortiz fly ball, and while both Jed Lowrie and Mike Cameron hit the ball very hard, it found a glove each time to end the threat.
On many nights a two-run first would be all that was needed for Jon Lester. But as has been the case in May, it would not prove nearly enough tonight. Having a pair of men on base in both the first and second innings, the Cubs broke through against Lester in the third, scoring two runs on three straight hits and a ground out to tie the game.
Lester wouldn't ever really settle down, being hit hard by the Cubs' lineup of eight righties for the six innings he pitched, giving up five runs along the way, but it would hardly matter, because the Red Sox offense was finally firing on all cylinders. The Sox broke the 2-2 tie in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly from Kevin Youklis and a single from Jed Lowrie-they would have had another run, arguably, but Adrian Gonzalez was sent home by Bogar trying to score from first on a David Ortiz double and was out by a mile.
4-2 very quickly became 8-2 in the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked with one out, moved to third on a Dustin Pedroia double, and then scored along with the second baseman on a single from Adrian Gonzalez. With starter Doug Davis finally out of the game, Kevin Youkilis welcomed Scott Maine by taking a 2-1 fastball and losing it well over the Green Monster for one of the loudest and longest homers Fenway has seen this year. One frame later it was Jarrod Satlamacchia homering and Jacoby Ellsbury scoring on a double play to make it 10-5.
The Cubs' bullpen finally slowed the Red Sox down some, but couldn't keep them quiet all day. The bats showed up for one last hurrah in the ninth inning. The Sox batted around and picked up bases loaded hits from Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury to put a five-run exclamation mark on the game. Scott Atchison threw three scoreless innings to keep the rest of the pen well rested, and the Sox took sole possession of first place in the wild card race for the first time this year.