Commentary

Sox show no sign of slowing down

Supposedly weary Boston blasts 18 hits to sink Jays and grab eighth straight win

Updated: June 11, 2011, 9:21 PM ET
By Allan Ryan | Special to ESPNBoston.com

TORONTO -- OK, enough about the Boston Red Sox and their recent state of road weariness.

In fact, Dustin Pedroia had warned us about Saturday's potential disaster following Friday night's 5-1 trimming of the Blue Jays.

The latter would be the game that started a little over 15 hours after their 6:30 Toronto check-in Friday morning -- the result of the near-2 a.m. finish to their series sweep in New York.

So Friday they might have won on fumes and Red Bulls. Saturday's matinee, Pedroia had cautioned, was "the day guys could be dragging a bit. We have to find a way to keep the energy going."

Either the Red Sox found a way or Pedroia just likes to make things up.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Darren CalabreseDespite a bruised kneecap, Dustin Pedroia had a pair of doubles, a walk and three RBIs Saturday.

Some 39 hours removed from the visitors' clubhouse in New York, the Sox piled on a season-high 16 runs in steamrolling to a season-high eighth straight win. The final read, 16-4 -- an 18-hit assault that featured three-run homers by both David Ortiz and Jason Varitek, the latter adding an RBI single for good measure. Just wait 'til these guys get caught up on their rest.

Just saying, but the Sox also happened to skip batting practice for the second straight day -- doing so Friday just patently obvious.

"Not that preparation's overrated," said manager Terry Francona. "With the off-day Monday, we'll hit [Sunday]. It's just that, when the energy level's potentially low ... well, save it for the game."

This, of course, worked famously Saturday. Of the Sox starters, only Jed Lowrie missed cracking the hit parade, while six others got there on multiple occasions, notably Marco Scutaro, who drove his hitting streak to eight games (which surround three weeks on the DL) with four singles.

Also notable, again, was the cautionary Pedroia, who, advised Thursday that his troublesome right knee amounted only to a severely bruised kneecap, put together a second straight three-hit game over a stretch of 22 hours. And did we mention a pair of doubles, a walk and three RBIs Saturday? Well, yes, we did.

And just wait until his other knee starts hurting.

"We're just trying to play good ball ... keep doing the things that make us go," said Pedroia. "Some of the guys started slow, but now we're having good at-bats, one through nine, working counts, trying to knock the other pitcher out. It's contagious now."

Varitek, for instance, getting his third start in four games -- two of those owing to Jarrod Saltalamacchia's stomach woes -- has now hit in 14 of his last 17 starts (.317). Along with Scutaro and a mini-resurgence from Saltalamacchia, the eight/nine spots in the order now appear to have substance.

"We're still going to rely on our Gonzo [Adrian Gonzalez], Pedey [Pedroia], Youkilis and David [Ortiz] to do their things," Varitek said, "but any time you can stretch your lineup, it helps.

"It wasn't just our eight and nine spots, either," the captain added. "Our whole lineup wasn't going well to start with, just a few people. [But] you know when some parts haven't been good yet -- but that those people have some success rates --- you know it's going to eventually play out to where those people get into their normal grooves. Then we complement each other in the lineup."

In any case, all this hitting was more than enough -- way more than enough -- for John Lackey to collect his second straight win since coming off the disabled-list.

It had been a month to the day -- May 11 -- that Lackey last surfaced in Toronto, getting saddled with all nine runs in a 9-3 setback. Two days later, he took his strained right elbow to the DL.

Yesterday, there were two-run blips in both the fourth and sixth but a record nudged to 4-5 on the year, a season-high eight strikeouts and a pitch count up to 112.

"I'm still building arm strength but I feel like I'm going in the right direction," said Lackey, who didn't at all mind cooling his heels [and his elbow] while the Sox rang up four runs in the third, then matched a season high with a seven-run fifth.

"I'll sit there all day if the guys are swinging the bats like that."

Notes: David Ortiz's 16th homer of the season (third in five games) was his career 40th against Toronto -- now his most against any one club. He also had 39 against Tampa, where the Sox take their road show after here. ... Jacob Ellsbury added another couple of singles to run his hitting streak to nine games (19-for-44, .432). ... Adrian Gonzalez's run-scoring double in the third gave him a career-best eight straight games with an RBI (12 total). ... Catcher Dan Butler, first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez and left-hander Chris Hernandez have been named mid-season all-stars for the Carolina (A) affiliate.

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