The Red Sox opened a portion of their schedule on Friday that they absolutely need to take advantage of, and they got off to a strong start by kicking off the weekend with a blowout 8-1 victory over the lowly Orioles at Fenway Park.
Matched up against O’s rookie starter Spenser Watkins to begin things on Friday, the Sox lineup — after being held to one run on Thursday — broke out for four runs alone in the bottom of the second inning, and the rally started with a leadoff single off the bat of Hunter Renfroe.
Kyle Schwarber, making his Red Sox debut Friday, followed by drawing a six-pitch walk off Watkins, while Kevin Plawecki advanced both runners an additional 90 feet to fill the bases with no outs.
That set the stage for a pair of rookies to take over, and they did just that, as Jarren Duran plated his side’s first run on an RBI single and Bobby Dalbec got a productive night at the plate started by lacing a two-run double off the top of the scoreboard at the base of the Green Monster.
Dalbec’s laser, which had an exit velocity of 113.3 mph, made it a 3-0 game and flipped the lineup for leadoff hitter Enrique Hernandez, who proceeded to rip a sacrifice fly that was hit deep enough to left field to bring in Duran from third.
Boston’s four-run second proved to be a comfortable cushion for Nick Pivetta, who put together his second straight quality outing in what was his 23rd start of the season.
Over six quality innings of work, the right-hander yielded just one earned run while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.
The lone run Pivetta surrendered to the Orioles came by way of the home run ball, as he served up a 320-foot solo shot to Richie Martin that just snuck past Pesky’s Pole in right field to lead things off in the top of the third inning.
Martin’s homer cut the Sox’ deficit down to three runs, but they got that run right back in the home half of the frame when Schwarber and Plawecki each drew two-out walks and Duran plated Schwarber on another RBI double to right field.
Xander Bogaerts tacked on another run in the fourth, with the star shortstop clubbing his 18th home run of the season that just snuck over the Monster and put the Sox up 6-1.
Given another sizable lead to work with, Pivetta was able to keep the O’s off the board over his final three innings on the mound and retired nine of the final 11 hitters he faced with Renfroe robbing DJ Stewart of a home run in the top of the fourth in the process of doing so.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (63 strikes) the 28-year-old hurler was able to pick up his ninth winning decision of the season while also lowering his ERA on the year down to 4.20.
While Pivetta’s night was done after six innings, the Sox offense was not finished yet, as Dalbec mashed his 12th home run of the season (a 411-foot solo shot to dead center field) in the bottom half of the sixth and Renfroe followed by crushing his 20th big fly of the season (a 423-foot solo shot over everything in left field) in the bottom half of the seventh.
Those two mammoth homers gave the Red Sox an 8-1 advantage, and Garrett Richards — working in relief of Pivetta and out of the bullpen for the first time this season — closed things out with three scoreless innings from the seventh through the ninth to secure the 8-1 victory and earn his first save of the year.
All in all, Renfroe, Plawecki, Duran, and Dalbec (Boston’s 5, 7, 8, and 9 hitters) combined to go 9-for-15 (.600) at the plate on Friday with two homers, six RBI, and five runs scored.
Schwarber went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, two runs scored, and a strikeout in his Sox debut.
With the win, the Red Sox improve to 67-51 on the season, though they remain five games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.
Next up: Sale Day on Saturday
For the first time in just over two years, ace left-hander Chris Sale will make his return from Tommy John surgery and take the mound for the Red Sox in the middle game of this three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon.
Sale is scheduled to face off against Orioles right-hander Jorge Lopez.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Bobby Dalbec: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)