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A superlative night at Fenway Park

Posted by David D'Onofrio  September 5, 2013 12:29 AM

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Going into the final night of a nine-game homestand, the Red Sox had slugged five homers since returning from the road. For the season they'd hit 140 homers in 140 games, which put them on pace for their fewest taters in a full season since 1993. And Fenway Park itself was surrendering an average of less than two long balls per game.

Then Wednesday happened.

With eight home runs, the Sox matched a franchise record that had stood for exactly 434 months. And the seven different players who homered were the most in team history. It all added up to a 20-4 victory over the team nearest to them in the American League standings, which marked the most runs the team has scored in a game in a decade -- and perhaps the craziest part of it all is that they posted those 20 runs on just 19 hits. They left only four men on base all night.

But that's how it goes when a team's homers (eight) outnumber its singles (seven).

With that, the Sox retained their 5.5-game lead in the division, while stretching their advantage to 2.5 games in the league, and simultaneously overtook the Tigers for the best run differential in all of Boston -- after being the night 29 runs behind Detroit. It's all so remarkable it'll be remembered for a while. And what better way to crystalize the memories than by handing out superlatives to each of the homers ...

Will Middlebrooks, 6th inning

Score previous: 6-4
Score after: 10-4
Distance: 403 feet
Click here to see the video

With the Sox scoring 15 runs over their final three at-bats, it's easy to forget that a batter before Middlebrooks stepped in with the bases loaded it was a 5-4 game. Mike Carp had just walked with the bases loaded, then Rick Porcello missed with a first-pitch slider, so Middlebrooks knew the righty would have to come in the zone with a fastball at some point. When he did, the third baseman hit it to Lansdowne Street.

David Ortiz, 4th inning

Score previous: 3-4
Score after: 4-4
Distance: 420 feet
Click here to see the video

Big Papi's first of the night was the Sox' longest, according to ESPN Stats and Info, leaving the bat at 106.6 mph and sailing over the Boston bullpen. Joining Middlebrooks' and Stephen Drew's, it was one of the three Sox home runs that would've been out of any park in baseball.

Stephen Drew, 2nd inning

Score previous: 0-0
Score after: 2-0
Distance: 410 feet
Click here to see the video

Most of the homers hit at Fenway Park exit the yard between the left-field foul pole and the Red Sox bullpen, though seven of Wednesday's nine circuit clouts (including Prince Fielder's) were to right field. Drew yanked his hard down the line, barely keeping it fair, but belting it way beyond any other home run that has hooked so close to Pesky's Pole. To pull a ball that much, and hit it so far, yet keep it fair, is a hard thing to do.

Daniel Nava, 6th inning

Score previous: 11-4
Score after: 13-4
Distance: 406 feet
Click here to see the video

As consistently good as Nava has been this year, he went 182 plate appearances and more than two months between home runs 10 and 11 of the season before hammering a shot off of Al Alburquerque.

Jacoby Ellsbury, 3rd inning

Score previous: 2-3
Score after: 3-3
Distance: 349 feet
Click here to see the video

If he hits the same ball tonight it'll probably look destined for the BQE, but Yankee Stadium and Fenway are two of just five ballparks Ellsbury's game-tier off Porcello would've left, according to ESPN's home run tracker. His was also the shot most aided by the wind, gaining 15 feet according to those same calculations. Nevertheless, his eighth of the year was a good sign for the health of his hand.

Mike Napoli, 8th inning

Score previous: 18-4
Score after: 19-4
Distance: 413 feet
Click here to see the video

If you needed a reminder of Napoli's raw strength, he provided it in the eighth inning, when he hammered a long high drive to the opposite field that was eventually deposited beyond the bullpen. ESPN says it would've been gone at 29 of MLB's 30 stadiums.

Ryan Lavarnway, 7th inning

Score previous: 13-4
Score after: 15-4
Distance: 356 feet
Click here to see the video

It was Lavarnway's first big-league homer in almost a year, but he didn't even get to enjoy an uninterrupted trot because third-base umpire Paul Schrieber mistakenly ruled that the ball had hit the wall, when in fact it hit the lip above the Green Monster. Eventually review got the call right -- but in a nine-run game on getaway day, everyone could've done without the replay.

David Ortiz, 7th inning

Score previous: 16-4
Score after: 18-4
Distance: 411 feet
Click here to see the video

He had already homered, and the game was way out of hand, so when Ortiz launched a long, high shot to right in the seventh, its biggest impact was giving fans a chance to coax him out for a curtain call. The musical credit goes to Fenway's in-house DJ, who had the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" all cued up and blaring out of the loud speakers practically as soon as the ball landed -- in honor of Ortiz's 2,001st career hit.

Red Sox 20, Tigers 4
19-for-41, 4 BB, 10 K, 4 2B, 8 HR
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF 1-for-5, R, RBI, HR, K: His blast into the first row of seats in the right-field grandstand was his lone hit in three trips against Porcello -- but he's still 7-for-10 against the righty in his career, now with a couple of dingers. It would've been a better night, too, but three times he hit line drives caught on the warning track.
Shane Victorino, RF 1-for-2, R, 2 HBP, SB, K: He left the game after being hit by a pitch for the second time -- and the ninth time this season when batting right-handed against a righty pitcher (in 71 plate appearances).
Dustin Pedroia, 2B 0-for-3, RBI, K: He went hitless, but he worked Porcello for 11 pitches before roping a bullet to left, plating Victorino with a sacrifice fly in what was at the time a 4-4 game.
David Ortiz, DH 3-for-5, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR, 2B: Career hit No. 2,000 was a rocket of a double to center field, and yet it might've been his weakest of the night, considering Nos. 1,999 and 2,001 both sailed over the bullpen.
Daniel Nava, LF 2-for-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, K: Clay Buchholz can only hope a new child brings him as much good luck as it has Nava. Since returning from paternity leave on Aug. 8, he's hitting .407, has reached base in every start, and Wednesday night connected for his first homer since June 18.
Mike Napoli, 1B 2-for-5, R, RBI, 2B, HR, 2 K: He doubled high off the Monster, barely missing a home run to the shortest part of the park -- then decided to go the more difficult route a few innings later, launching his 18th of the year to right-center.
Stephen Drew, SS 2-for-2, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, HR, 2B: The blast he hooked around the right-field foul pole got the fun started, his seventh homer since his five-RBI night on July 27. Over that time he's slugging .552, with a .304 BA, .390 OBP, and .942 OPS.
David Ross, C 1-for-2, K: He dumped a single into right on a hit-and-run before being pinch-hit for by Mike Carp with the bases loaded in the sixth. Carp walked, then Ryan Lavarnway had a homer among two hits in this slot afterward.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B 3-for-5, 2 R, 4 RBI, HR, 2B His salami was the biggest blow of the game, turning a 6-4 advantage into a 10-4 lead, and from there it was a laugher.
9 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 2B, HR
Ryan Dempster, SP 6 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 7 K, HR: He pitched around a couple of flare-ups, and limited the damage to mostly Prince Fielder's three-run homer. In what was probably his final start of the season, he was competitive and finished by striking out the side.
Brandon Workman, SP IP, H, K: A night after coming in to face Miguel Cabrera with a one-run lead, when it looked like he could be in line for higher-leverage usage, he entered with a 13-4 lead. Not quite the same, but he was already warm.
Franklin Morales, RP IP, 2 K: With absolutely no pressure, and an 18-2 lead, he whiffed two of the three hitters he faced.
Rubby De La Rosa, RP IP, H, K: He's battled command issues for much of the season, though protecting a 16-run lead he fired 11 of 13 pitches for strikes to close things out without incident.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Dave D'Onofrio is a sports journalist who focuses on the Red Sox and Patriots, and also writes's "Off The Field" blog about what Boston's sportsmen do away from the More »

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