|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
The Red Sox have been desperately looking for the type of game where everything seems to click, after weeks of ups and downs keeping the team around .500 filled with inconsistencies on the field. And while the team did only manage to climb back up to that unavoidable .500 mark on Monday night with a 9-2 victory over the Texas Rangers, the team showed significant strength and unity on both the roster and in the front office.
Beginning a difficult series against Texas at Fenway, the Sox were led by sinker ball pitcher Aaron Cook, who was surprisingly effective over seven innings of work. Pitching against one of the best offenses in baseball, Cook limited the Rangers to just one run on six hits and three walks, while striking out a rare two batters.
Cook didn’t allow a Rangers hit after a double to Nelson Cruz in the fourth inning, who he then picked off on a nice play between him and shortstop Mike Aviles. Despite being hit at times early in the contest, Cook settled down recording 13 ground ball outs.
On the other side, Japanese import Yu Darvish starter for the Rangers and was pounded by the top of the Red Sox lineup. After getting off to a great start to his MLB career as a 25-year old rookie, Darvish has struggled of late with wildness. On Monday he pitched into the seventh inning, allowing six earned runs on 11 hits and four walks. With his wildness has come his ability to strike batters out, fanning nine Sox hitters including frequent strikeout victim Jarrod Saltalamacchia three times.
Boston had eight doubles on the night, including two to drive in runs in the third by Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez added RBI singles in the seventh and eighth, and Crawford belted another RBI double in the eighth as well. Gonzalez was one of three Sox hitters with three hits, and both he and Crawford drove in three runs a piece.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia were the other members of the three-hit club, including Pedroia breaking out with three doubles off of Darvish. The top four hitters in the lineup combined for 11 of the team’s 14 hits, with Crawford’s average on the year climbing up to .292, a level at which he’s expected to play.