Mariners-Red Sox Preview
Perhaps inspired by their manager’s brave fight against cancer, the AL East-worst Boston Red Sox are playing with an almost unprecedented focus on offense.
Highly touted rookie pitcher Henry Owens hopes the hot hitting against the Seattle Mariners continues in his home debut Sunday when Boston goes after its first three-game sweep in two months.
Hours after learning that skipper John Farrell would miss the rest of the season to undergo treatment for lymphoma, the Red Sox set season highs for runs and hits (21) in a series-opening 15-1 win Friday. Farrell then visited to joke with players and interim manager Torey Lovullo before Saturday’s game.
"(Friday’s) news still hits hard with several of us," Lovullo said. "I don’t think that’ll ever go away until we know John’s healthy and cured and with us."
Although another outburst seemed unlikely with Seattle ace Felix Hernandez taking the hill, Boston shattered the previous day’s highs with its most runs since 2003 and most hits (26) since ’05 in a 22-10 victory.
The Red Sox (52-64) became the first team with at least 15 runs and 21 hits in back-to-back games since the club did it in 1950. Saturday was the highest-scoring game ever against Seattle.
At 25, Jackie Bradley Jr. became the youngest player to get five extra-base hits, while Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts had four hits apiece. Bradley is 13 for 22 with 13 RBIs in his last five games and David Ortiz is 14 for 22 with 10 RBIS in his past six.
Boston now hopes to have Rusney Castillo back as it tries to earn its first three-game sweep since June 5-7. Hanley Ramirez, also out with a sore foot, could miss his seventh straight contest.
Pablo Sandoval’s status is uncertain after leaving Saturday with a bruised elbow. He was hit by a Hernandez pitch leading off the third inning after homering in the second.
Owens (1-1, 3.60 ERA), regarded as the team’s top pitching prospect, would like to benefit from another big day at the plate in his first appearance at Fenway Park.
The left-hander allowed three runs over five innings in a 13-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on Aug 4 before giving up one run despite walking four over five innings of last Sunday’s 7-2 win at Detroit.
"I’ve got a win, I can throw my shoulders back, take a deep breath and take the next step," Owens said.
He’ll likely have to contend with Nelson Cruz, who hit his MLB-leading 35th home run Saturday. Cruz has batted .451 with nine homers over his last 13 games, although seven have been solo shots.
Vidal Nuno (0-1, 3.00) gets his third start since moving into the rotation after making three relief appearances with Arizona and 20 more upon joining Seattle (54-63).
After allowing three runs and five hits – two homers – over 3 2-3 innings in a 10-4 win at Colorado on Aug. 4, he looked better in yielding two runs over five innings in Monday’s 3-2 home loss to Baltimore.
The left-hander, though, seeks to end the majors’ longest active winless streak. He’s 0-9 with a 3.98 ERA in 17 starts since allowing two hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-0 home win in his only other matchup with the Red Sox on June 27, 2014.
"Yesterday was a bad outing, today was a bad outing," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Tomorrow, hopefully we have a good outing and win a ballgame."