David Ortiz celebrates his homer in the first. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Closing Time: Red Sox offense explodes in rout of Blue Jays

John Tomase
July 02, 2015 - 6:41 pm

Don't look now, but the Red Sox just finished a successful swing through the American League East with one of their most impressive bounce-back wins of the season. It hasn't made much of a difference yet in the standings, but the Red Sox are in no position to be worrying about first place. They just have to focus on making up ground on whomever's in front of them, and on Thursday night in Toronto, they continued an encouraging trend with a 12-6 victory. The win erases the sting of Wednesday's 11-2 stinker that saw Rick Porcello author one of his worst starts of the season. More importantly, it allowed the Red Sox to take three of four from the Jays after winning two of three in Tampa. "It's good man," said slugger David Ortiz, whose three-run homer broke things open in the first. "We haven't been able to play consistently good, you know? If we finish the first half of the season playing the way we have lately, it'll give you hope for the second half, especially when you're in a division where there's not too many games apart. We played the worst the first couple months of the season and we're still six, seven games away. If we start playing better, it'll give you hope." They remain camped firmly in last place in the American League East, but the last week has at least offered the tiniest hint that they're not ready to give up on the season. With losses by Tampa and Baltimore (the Yankees were off), the Red Sox gained ground on the entire division, and now sit six games out of first, which at this point they'll take. "Yeah, without a doubt, and a trip that we needed to claw our way back to within six," said manager John Farrell. "Granted, we're not looking at the scoreboard every night, but at the same time, the way we'd gone through the first two and a half months of the season in the division, to go 5-2, was certainly timely, and we go back home with a little momentum." On Thursday, they jumped all over Jays rookie left-hander Matt Boyd, who didn't even record an out. He faced seven hitters, and all of them scored. Mookie Betts, Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts strung together singles to make it 1-0 before many fans had even found their seats. Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez then gave them a couple of reasons to turn around and head home, with Ortiz blasting a three-run homer and Ramirez following with a solo shot that made it 5-0. A Pablo Sandoval single and Mike Napoli walk chased Boyd, and Alejandro De Aza greeted reliever Liam Hendriks with a two-run triple to left that closed the book on Boyd. Betts' second single of the inning made it 8-0. The Blue Jays do not go quietly, however. Baseball's best team against left-handed pitching tried to make a game out of it in the second by batting around against Red Sox starter Wade Miley and scoring four runs. Miley managed to limit the damage by retiring Colabello with the bases loaded, a feat he repeated to end the fourth. Miley was not sharp, walking a season-high seven, but he gutted out five innings to earn the victory on what Farrell termed, "a blue-collar night." Offensively, the top of the order carried the day, with Betts, Holt and Bogaerts combining for 11 hits. Every regular had at least one hit and scored at least one run as the Red Sox pounded out a season-high 19 hits. The Red Sox return home on Friday for three games against the surprising Houston Astros, who own the American League's best record, as well as the most home runs (115) in the big leagues. As winners of nine of their last 15, the Red Sox aren't exactly rolling, but after going 16-30 from May 1-June 15, they'll take it. "We have to finish the first half of the season at home," Ortiz said. "I know we haven't played that well at home. Hopefully this momentum just carries over." PLAYER OF THE GAME: Someone hose down Alejandro De Aza, because he's on fire. The outfielder continued his rampage by going 3-for-5 with two runs and four RBIs. He singled, doubled, and tripled. He arrived in Boston on June 5 batting .214. He's now hitting .266, thanks to a .338 average with the Red Sox. "You look up at the scoreboard and he's in the mid-.260s and he was hitting .210," Farrell said. "That means he's getting a lot of quality at-bats and extra-base hits mixed in there. He's fit in extremely well in the clubhouse. He knows he's getting regular at-bats. That's allowed the timing at the plate to play itself out. He's doing a great job." WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Mookie Betts set the tone with a leadoff single and didn't stop hitting, going 3-for-6 with a run and two RBIs. -- A day off on Wednesday did Brock Holt some good. He went 4-for-6 with a run. -- Can Xander Bogaerts book his flight to Cincinnati yet? The steady shortstop continues to get better and better at the plate. He went 4-for-6 with a run and two RBIs and is now hitting .297. -- Ortiz and Ramirez had only one hit apiece, but each made it count by knocking it out of the park in the first inning. -- The Red Sox went 9-for-15 with runners in scoring position. WHAT WENT WRONG -- Left-hander Wade Miley nearly didn't last long enough to win a game that saw him spotted an 8-0 lead. The Red Sox had relievers up twice through four innings, and Miley tied a career high with the seven walks. -- Reliever Craig Breslow allowed back-to-back homers leading off the ninth. (Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Toronto)