Red Sox finally getting offense from bottom of the order as they wallop Orioles

Through the first 32 games of the regular season, the Red Sox never once scored in double-digits.

In 16 games since May 14, they’ve scored 10 or more runs five times.

The latest came on Sunday in a 12-2 walloping of the Orioles as the Red Sox inch closer to the .500 mark at 23-25. For all the winning they’ve done this month, the Red Sox are still yet to break even, showing just how deep a hole they dug themselves. All they can do is keep adding games like Sunday to their record.

“We’ve been grinding,” manager Alex Cora said. “But energy comes from offense and we did an outstanding job offensively today. The bottom of the lineup was outstanding.”

The latest offensive outburst was fueled by five home runs, the most the Red Sox have hit in a game since last August.

But what was most encouraging about the home run barrage was who exactly hit them. Bobby Dalbec — who entered the game with a .523 OPS — smashed his second homer in as many days in the second inning to get the scoring started. Recent callup Franchy Cordero added his second of the season two batters later. And Christian Arroyo (.537 OPS) smacked his own two innings later.

“It looks very much like who we are and what we sought out to be,” said starter Nick Pivetta, who allowed one run over six innings. “I think just the consistency is there top through bottom and I think that’s the most important thing is everybody is pulling their weight. Everyone is putting up competitive at-bats, and they’re doing a great job. It allows us to feel less pressure.”

While the lineup limped through more than a month of games on the backs of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez, the last few weeks have seen several more attendees join the hit parade. A combination of adding walks, hitting pitches in the zone, not expanding and using the whole field has finally coalesced, creating a more sustainable product for the Red Sox. The warmer weather has helped, too.

Devers and Kiké Hernández, who’s crawled out of his own offensive nadir with a 10-game hitting streak, added solo homers in the third and fourth innings for good measure.

Cora promised the power would come even through the bleakest stretches. It’s finally arrived and seems to be sticking around even after Saturday’s doubleheader in which the Red Sox dropped the second game after scoring just twice.

“I know we had a few games we didn’t score,” Cora said. “In Chicago we walked seven times, (Saturday) we had like nine or 10 hits. But the lineup is moving. Cash in with runners in scoring position and when we do that we will score a lot of runs.”

It was only two days ago against the same Orioles club, though, that the Red Sox watched leads of 6-0 and 8-2 slip away thanks to a leaky bullpen. That was on Cora’s mind when he turned to Tanner Houck in the seventh.

Houck pitched two scoreless innings, needing just 14 pitches, allowing Cora to use him again by mid-week.

Tanner Houck was brought in despite a big lead with the Red Sox mindful of earlier bullpen meltdowns. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

“Where we were bullpen-wise, what happened a few days ago and (that) he hasn’t pitched in a while,” Cora said of bringing Houck into the 7-1 game. “Just felt like that was the time to use him. He was very efficient. We were able to take him out. Now instead of waiting for the Oakland series, he’s probably available against Cincinnati on Wednesday.”

While the offense was the culprit early in the season when the bullpen was blowing games, that’s no longer a scapegoat. If this team is serious about contending for a wild-card berth, sitting four games out, the bullpen will surely need to be addressed. (Something we noted in spring training and again after the second game of the season.)

And it was telling that Cora was aggressive with Houck — not only in pitching him in the seventh with a large lead, but also in pulling him in the eighth to preserve him for later in the week. Reliable arms who are available to pitch on a day-to-day basis for the Red Sox are scarce.

Nevertheless, with three more games at home this week against Baltimore and Cincinnati, the .500 mark is within reach before the Red Sox head out on a 10-game west coast road trip this weekend.

(Top photo of Cordero connecting for an RBI double: Maddie Malhotra / Boston Red Sox / Getty Images)


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