The Red Sox woke up from an offensive slumber and collected 13 hits to salvage their series against the Athletics with an 8-1 victory at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
Matched up against A’s left-hander Sean Manaea, Michael Chavis set the tone right away for the Sox with a sharply-hit double to lead things off in the first.
J.D. Martinez proceeded to plate Chavis on a one-out RBI single off Manaea, and he, too, came into score when Xander Bogaerts drilled a two-run home run down the left field line to make it a 3-0 game.
Another leadoff single in the second, this one courtesy of Hunter Renfroe, resulted in Boston tacking on another three runs against the Oakland starter with Bobby Dalbec clobbering a two-run shot to dead center field and Bogaerts picking up his third RBI on a two-out, run-scoring base hit.
The bottom of the Red Sox lineup caused more trouble for the A’s in the third when Christian Vazquez, Renfroe, and Dalbec loaded the bases with no outs and Jonathan Arauz pushed across another run by grounding into a double play.
Fast forward to the sixth, and Chavis’ hustle proved to beneficial to the Sox once more when he reached base on a one-out double and came into score on a Matt Chapman throwing error later in the inning.
That gave the Red Sox an 8-0 lead, which is all they would need to pick up the victory and snap a three-game skid to improve to 23-16 on the season.
Richards solid over six innings
On the other side of things, Garrett Richards made his eighth start of the season for Boston on Thursday and continued the impressive run he has been on as of late.
Over six strong innings, the veteran right-hander kept the A’s off the scoreboard while scattering five hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.
Richards did not face more than four batters in a single frame until the top of the fifth. At that point, he had to dance his way around some traffic on the base paths — and some drama with Mark Canha — in order to keep the shutout intact.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (52 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball 42% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 96.5 mph with the pitch.
Able to improve to 3-2 on the season while lowering his ERA down to 3.89, Richards’ next start should come against the Blue Jays down in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Whitlock picks up first career save
In relief of Richards, Garrett Whitlock was the only other hurler the Red Sox needed to turn to on Thursday.
The Rule 5 pick wrapped things up by yielding one run over three innings of work to preserve the 8-1 win for his side and pick up his first career big-league save while doing so.
Renfroe starts relay, notches another outfield assist
While Whitlock was in the process of recording his first save of the season on Thursday, he received some defensive help from Renfroe and Arauz in the top half of the seventh.
With two outs in the inning and A’s catcher on first base after getting plunked by a pitch, Canha laced a line-drive to right field that rolled all the way to the bullpen wall before being fielded by Renfroe.
Renfroe hit his cutoff man in Arauz, who fired a laser to Vazquez in order to nab Murphy at home to retire the side.
Next up: Welcoming in the Angels
The Red Sox will open up the second leg of this six-game homestand with the first of three against the 16-20 Angels on Friday night.
Right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to get the start for Boston in the series opener after he was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Thursday, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Griffin Canning.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)