Commentary

Hard-hitting Red Sox get to take it easy

Updated: June 12, 2011, 11:08 PM ET
By Allan Ryan | Special to ESPNBoston.com

TORONTO -- What kind of carryover can there sometimes be from a game in which you roll up 16 runs?

Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona pondered the notion for a second Sunday morning, then suggested, "I think if we'd have lost 16-4, I'd have to say the same thing."

Namely that …

[+] EnlargeKevin Youkilis
Abelimages/Getty ImagesAfter watching Saturday's onslaught from the bench, Kevin Youkilis got in on the act Sunday with three hits, including a home run, and four RBIs.

"We try so hard to show up every day and be consistent. That's the way to do it," Francona said. "You hear all the time about momentum as far as your starting pitcher, and that's true. But if you win and score 16 runs, and the next day your guy gives up 10 in the first, so much for momentum."

On the other hand …

Jon Lester wasn't quite that shaky Sunday afternoon, while it was the same, never-gets-old story for the Boston offense.

With an off day Monday deliciously beckoning in Tampa, the Red Sox followed up Saturday's 18-hit assault with 17 more Sunday in a 14-1 dismantling of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Sox's winning streak stands at nine -- a season high in the major leagues -- including all six so far on this junket against division rivals, which concludes with three against the Rays beginning Tuesday.

Within Sunday's relentless mix were six doubles and four more homers, including David Ortiz's second three-run shot in as many days, two-run pokes from Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, and a solo by Adrian Gonzalez as the game's third batter.

Delighted with the view was Lester, who didn't need nearly that much help, striking out eight and allowing just two hits in an eight-inning performance that sidled him up to the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay as the majors' only nine-game winners. Not that Lester was complaining.

"I've seen a lot of offense my years here," Lester said, "but I don't recall seeing a stretch quite like these last nine games.

"It's fun to see, fun to play behind, and I don't think you'll ever hear a pitcher complaining about long innings or a lot of runs.

"I wouldn't say I can feed off it, but it does take the pressure off, gives you room to make a mistake. Right now, it's pretty cool here."

Meaning, of course, when it comes to the Boston attack, it's hot, hot, hot.

As a potentially tremendous lineup continues to hit its collective stride, the Sox lead the majors in runs scored, doubles, extra-base hits, total bases and RBIs. And with five home runs in New York and six more in Toronto, they now have 77 of those -- second only to the Yankees' 95.

During their brief stay in Canada, the Red Sox outscored the Jays 35-6, massaging Toronto pitchers for 46 hits --18 for extra bases.

For the nine-game win streak (which began with a Fenway sweep against the A's), they've outscored opponents 83-36, hitting .329 (117-for-356) with 30 doubles and 15 homers.

And the hits are coming from all over the lineup. Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury has hit in 10 straight (.429), including multihit games in each of his past six. No. 2 man Dustin Pedroia was 7-for-13 for the weekend with four walks, five runs scored and six RBIs.

Ortiz has hit in 11 of 12 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in his last 23. Gonzalez leads the majors with 60 RBIs with at least one (14 total) in a career-best nine straight games.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia contributed a double and a pair of singles Sunday and has reached base in eight straight games. Marco Scutaro, off a four-hit game Saturday, added two more and has hit in nine straight. Youkilis, who had Saturday off, had a double and single to go with his homer and, like Ortiz, knocked in four. And Carl Crawford is up to .246.

"I can't complain about getting some rest after us getting in late and all that," said Youkilis, referring to the team's 6:30 a.m. arrival Friday.

"And I can't say what this compares to. Over the years, there's been a lot of good teams here and we've been on a lot of runs, but I'm the type of guy who might not be able to tell you what happened six days ago. We're just playing good ball, but there's going to come times where we don't."

"Getting contributions from pretty much one through nine, that's a good way to play," Francona said. "You can't count on that very often, but you take it when you can get it. Even one game, when you can stay away from [relievers Daniel] Bard and [Jonathan Papelbon], that's good."

"A big thing is for me and [Ellsbury] to keep getting on base," Pedroia said. "We do that and pitchers have nowhere to put the big guys behind us. It's been fun to watch."

For all the fun they're having, the Red Sox don't at all mind interrupting the proceedings for an off day in Tampa.

"I think that'll be the biggest thing for us," Youkilis said. "Get our legs underneath us as much as we can."

And a final word from the skipper.

"When we go to Tampa," Francona said, "all this won't mean anything."

Allan Ryan is a contributor to ESPNBoston.com.

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