The Red Sox’s longest homestand of the season included one game that was postponed due to a citywide lockdown, an emotional return to normalcy punctuated by the most famous expletive in team history, a doubleheader capped by an extra-inning affair, a rain-shortened 13-0 loss and a whole mess of wins for the home team.
To be exact, there were seven of those (wins, not expletives), including five in a row to end the stay, and perhaps none felt quite as nice as Sunday’s relaxing 6-1 win over hapless Houston, which featured John Lackey’s successful return to the mound and 11 more Boston hits in front of a sellout crowd under a cloudless sky.
Here are a few takeaways as the Sox improved to 18-7:
Take two: Lackey allowed one run on five hits in six innings, striking out four and walking two. Perhaps every start made against Houston deserves an asterisk, but the Sox have to be overjoyed with the way in which Lackey rebounded from his biceps strain.
His effort gives Boston’s rotation a 15-4 record and a 3.07 ERA. It also revives the Opening Day quintet, now fully healthy and on an absolute roll as May approaches.
Lackey will next pitch in Texas, a house of horrors for the righty. He has posted a 6.68 ERA in 18 career starts at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Astros are welcome anytime: When Houston dragged its paltry payroll to the American League, many teams in the junior circuit circled the dates they would get to beat up on the Astros. The Sox certainly took advantage, outscoring Houston by a 28-10 margin and outhitting the visitors 51-26.
The Astros are now 0-7 all time at Fenway Park. They host Boston for three games Aug. 5-7, just in case you want to circle that on the calendar.
Now comes the hard part: Not to take anything away from Boston’s phenomenal start, but 10 of its 25 games have come against teams currently in last place and 16 have been played at home. On Tuesday, the Sox begin a stretch in which they will play 15 of 22 on the road, including visits to Texas, Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees, who figure to be a bit healthier by then. Overall, the Sox play 41 road games and 29 home games leading to the All-Star break, then 16 out of 19 away from home through the heart of August.
It may not mean a thing. Boston had identical home and road records in 2011 and was slightly better away from Fenway in 2012. Also, it is 7-2 on the road so far this season. Just something to keep in mind.
Day tripper: Daniel Nava is a California kid who now lives in Arizona. He probably loves the sunshine. It certainly plays out in his performance. After a 2-for-4 showing Sunday, Nava was hitting .478 (11-for-23) with three homers, a double and four walks in day games this year.
Nava’s latest showing also included some stellar work in right field, where he made his sixth appearance. He handled four fly balls in the first four innings alone, as well as multiple hard hits in his direction, and ended the second with a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab on the warning track. He also ended the game with a spectacular diving grab headed toward the corner.
Prior to the game, manager John Farrell said he has “complete confidence” playing Nava in right while Shane Victorino remains sidelined with back pain, despite Nava’s relative inexperience out there and the quirkiness of the position at Fenway Park. That confidence must be soaring right now.
Two-run triples. That’s what I do: The hits have been few and far between for Stephen Drew so far.
But they have started coming with a bit more regularity, as is some solid run production at the bottom of the order. Drew has five RBIs in his last four games, thanks to two two-run triples. He had one in the fourth inning Sunday that gave Boston the lead for good.
Three-base hits are nothing new to Drew. He finished second in the National League in triples for three straight years with Arizona. It looks like he will take full advantage of the roomy right field at Fenway.
Still streaking: David Ortiz’s first-inning RBI single did two things. First it caused 36,527 at Fenway to gasp as one at the thought of what a ball hit that hard could do to someone if they were caught flush with it. It was the very definition of a line drive.
The screamer also extended Ortiz’s hitting streak to 20 games going back to last season. That is a career high for baseball’s hottest hitter. The slugger is hitting .471 (33-for-70) with four homers, seven doubles and 17 RBIs during the run. He is 16-for-31 since returning from the disabled list.