A multi-home run game courtesy of David Ortiz? Not a big shock.
Steven Wright throwing the first complete game of the 2016 season for the Boston Red Sox? Okay, now there’s something unexpected.
For a guy who was largely seen as a fill-in for the injured Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright sure has done a nice job of making himself seem like a permanent fixture in the Red Sox starting rotation.
Sunday night in the Bronx, Wright played the role of “Red Sox Ace.”
Lost two in a row on the road to your biggest rival? No problem. Your number one starter David Price just got rocked the day before? Not a big deal.
Hand Wright the ball, let him go to work, and then sit back and enjoy the results.
It took Wright a nifty 101 pitches to get through nine innings. Along the way he allowed three hits, walked one, and struck out seven. He was one measly out away from a complete game shutout, when Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner took Wright deep. The solo shot in the bottom of the ninth was the Yankees lone run of the night.
Their only other scoring opportunity of the night had come in the bottom of the seventh. Starlin Castro led off the inning with a double and then advanced to third on a fly ball by Brian McCann.
That brought up Mark Teixeira.
Wright’s 1-0 knuckleball got away from catcher Ryan Hanigan. Castro thought about making a break to home. By the time he changed his mind, Hanigan had corralled the ball, and rifled a throw to third baseman Travis Shaw who tagged Castro out before he could get back to the base.
For offense, the Red Sox, the team that was once last in the American League in home runs, lofted four balls over the fences. Dustin Pedroia got it started in the first with a two-run shot that barely cleared the right field fence.
In the fourth David Ortiz got all of a Luis Severino offering, and crushed a home run that travelled an estimated 429 feet to deep right-center field.
Ortiz led off the seventh by golfing a low fastball from Severino 400 feet into the right field stands. His second long ball of the night extended the Sox lead to 4-0. Ortiz now has nine home runs which ties him for second in the league.
In the eighth, with Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve on the mound, Xander Bogaerts hit his second home run of the season. The solo shot to left-center was the team’s fifth and final run of the night.
The Red Sox have moved up to seventh in the American League in home runs. They’ve hit 13 long balls since May 1, which leads all American League teams.
At this point there can be no doubt that barring a major drop-off in performance, Steven Wright has established himself as a fixture in the Red Sox starting rotation.
He’s third in the American League in earned run average at 1.52. That’s lower than Chris Sale (1.79,) Felix Hernandez (2.21,) or Cole Hamels (2.68.)
Wright is 3-3 and he’s locked-in. No Red Sox starting pitcher has come close to approaching Wright’s consistency.
Wright has pitched six innings or more in every start. He’s thrown 100 or more pitches in each outing. He’s struck out between five and eight batters in each start. Wright has yet to allow more than two earned runs or more than six hits in a start.
He’s been exactly the type of ace starting pitcher that the team needed, and he wasn’t even expected to be a member of the team’s starting rotation.
Monday night at 7:10 pm ET the 18-13 Boston Red Sox will square-off against the 14-18 Oakland A’s. Boston has seven home games this week, three against the A’s followed by four against the Astros.
Clay Buchholz (1-3, 5.71) is on the mound for the Red Sox. Sonny Gray (3-3, 4.84) is on the mound for the Athletics.