The Red Sox are taking one of the hottest acts in Major League Baseball on the road.
The Sox wrapped up a nine-game homestand with a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers before 35,180 on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, finishing 7-2 during their stay.
They now begin a nine-game road swing on Friday in Cleveland, followed by stops in Toronto and the Chicago Cubs. The Sox are 19-15 on the road this season, the third best mark in the American League behind the front running New York Yankees and the Houston Astros.
The Sox improved to 39-31 and 16-4 in June by completing their third series sweep of the season, and have won six straight series, going 10-1-2 in their last 13 after starting the season 1-7-1 through the first nine.
“We were solid, really good and we talk about playing well here and it was fun,” said Sox manager Alex Cora. “I think overall we did an amazing job. We played well, played clean baseball and got some good swings. Overall, it was good and we have not had one of these (sweep) in a while at home.
“For us to get to where we want to, we have to do this and now we go on the road. We have Cleveland, Toronto and we got the Cubs. Just keep doing what we are doing and if we keep doing that, we are going to be okay.”
The Sox reached their low point on May 8 after being swept by the White Sox with a record of 10-19. Since May 10, the Red Sox have gone 29-12, the second-best record in MLB over that stretch behind the Yankees.
Wacha in the park
Right-handed starter Michael Wacha got a rough reception from the front end of the Tigers batting order in the top of the first. Riley Greene swatted a one-out line drive single to left center that reached the warning track. The ball was hit so hard that Greene had no chance of legging out a double.
Turned out it didn’t matter that Greene failed to get into scoring position. Shortstop Javier Baez got around on Wacha’s first pitch and launched over the Green Monster for his sixth of the season.
Wacha settled down and retired 12 of the next 15 batters and enjoyed a 6-2 lead after five innings. He opened the sixth with a leadoff walk to Baez and a single to right by Miguel Cabrera that put runners at the corners, but struck out Harold Castro and Robbie Grossman and got Spencer Torkelson to fly to center to end the threat.
On the night,. Wacha went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches, 61 for strikes, and has given up two runs or fewer in 10 of his 12 starts.
“His change up was good and he made some pitches and obviously the one to Javier he wants back,” said Cora. “Probably up and in not down and in and Javier put a good swing on it. But overall, he managed the game and gave us what we needed.”
Detroit left starter Tarik Skubal went 4 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He threw 99 pitches, 66 for strikes.
On second thought
Red Sox right fielder Rob Refsynder’s first home run of the season and seventh of his MLB career required a second look. Refsynder launched a ball that came down on the lip of the Green Monster but was played by Grossman. He stopped at second as Jarren Duran crossed home plate to give Boston a 3-2 lead.
The play was reviewed and Refsynder was sent jogging home with the Sox’ fourth run. Refsynder drilled a double down the left field line in the fifth and is riding six-game hitting streak.
“He’s passed the test before and we knew he was going to be a part of this but you can only take X number of guys from the beginning,” said Cora. “He was patient and we were patient. He can hit lefties and he is doing an outstanding job and he’s locked in.”
Around the horn
Jeter Downs was called up from Worcester on Monday and made his MLB debut at third base in place of Rafael Devers. Downs made his first putout on a hard grounder by Spencer Torkelson in the second inning. At the plate, Downs went down on strikes in his first two at bats, lined out to deep left and was canned for a third time to end the eighth. Welcome to the majors.
“He made a nice play right away and hit a nice ball to left field,” said Cora. “It’s not easy ,but he did what we needed at third base.”
Catcher Christian Vazquez rocked a double high off the wall in center field in his first at bat. Vazquez has hit for extra bases in 11 of his last 18 at bats that includes two home runs and nine doubles.