What was that again about a hitting slump?
Last night the long-slumbering Red Sox bats hit harder than Mike Tyson and with just about the same mind-numbing results as they pounded a punchless team’s best friend -- the Chicago White Sox pitching staff -- into submission, 16-3, at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox, who had scored just five runs in their last 36 innings and had been held to three runs or fewer in 12 of their first 24 games, needed only three innings to solve those problems as they beat Chicago starter Rick Horton and reliever Jose Segura around the ears for 11 hits and nine runs.
At that clip, it was clear to everyone that the issue had been settled for the evening nearly as soon as it had begun, a point especially not lost on leadoff man Marty Barrett.
“I got up this morning and went out and hit (in a batting cage in his neighbor’s yard),” Barrett said. “I kept thinking, ‘Give me a thought I can take up to the plate.’ I started thinking about hitting the outside half of the ball.”
By nightfall, Barrett and seven of his teammates were denting all sides of the ball to the tune of 18 hits, with everyone getting a hit but poor Jim Rice.
Chicago’s first inkling that something was amiss here should have come the moment Barrett, who was 0 for 14 and 3 for 31, rapped a line double into the left-field corner off Horton (3-4) to start things off in the first inning in unusual fashion -- with a bang.
After Jody Reed walked and Wade Boggs grounded out, Dwight Evans singled to center, scoring Barrett and Reed, and it was 2-0, a massive Red Sox lead by recent comparison.
“It was great for me to get that first hit because I felt so good going into the game,” Barrett said. “It makes you nervous because you don’t feel that way that often. When I got hot, everybody seemed to.”
While Bruce Hurst (5-0) was sailing along on calm waters, Horton was facing bats so hot it would have taken Red Adair to cool them off. In the second inning, Boston again knocked Horton around, slamming four hits and scoring three times by bouncing balls off the Green Monster often enough that Horton now knows how it got its reputation.
The final straw came when Boggs slapped a Wall double that scored two and sent Horton reaching for the Camay sooner than he’d anticipated.
Segura enabled the White Sox to escape that inning without further damage, but Boston roughed him up in the third when it batted around and scored four times on four hits, two walks and a wild pitch.
“Nobody expected we’d blow them out like that,” said Dwight Evans, whose four hits and four RBIs had more than a little to do with the strength of that hitting gale. “It’s one of those curious things a club goes through. We knew it was just a matter of time. It was one of those days.”
It turned into one of those bad days for Segura after Todd Benzinger (four hits, four RBIs) and Marzano singled with one out, Brady Anderson reached on a fielder’s choice, Barrett singled and the runners advanced on third baseman Kenny Williams’ throwing error.
Reed then walked and, when Segura’s fourth ball spun wildly past catcher Carlton Fisk, Anderson scored to make it 7-0.
Segura wasn’t done with his suffering. He looked in at Boggs and quickly walked him, and Evans followed by starching a double that made it 9-0.
Perhaps a bit winded at that point, the Red Sox contented themselves with watching Hurst master the White Sox on one hit until the fifth when old friend Fisk (why can’t the Sox ever find catchers like that?) ripped his 14th Fenway Park homer since signing with Chicago as a free agent in 1981, a two-run shot that stopped going only because it ran into the screen in left.
That reawakened Boston’s bats, and they took it out on poor Segura in the sixth, scoring four times on four hits and two walks.
Segura walked Boggs leading off, gave up a single to Evans and walked Mike Greenwell to load the bases. At that juncture, manager Jim Fregosi suggested he might want to wash his face and take his 19.29 earned run average with him.
The Red Sox then dealt with John Pawlowski and had less trouble hitting him then they would have spelling his name.
Soon Benzinger doubled to drive in another run and Anderson had a bloop a single that scored two, and the lead had grown to an absurd 13-2.
Although he allowed seven runs, six hits, four walks and two wild pitches, the news was not all bad for Segura. Somehow he managed to reduce his ERA to 18.00, so there was a moral victory for him to savor amid the wreckage.
Even after Segura’s departure, the Red Sox were not finished battering baseballs. Apparently deciding to make up for lost time, Benzinger drove in three in the seventh with his second homer of the season, and with the lead now 16-2, the decision was made to relieve Hurst of further duty.
When Dennis Lamp came on to handle what remained of the White Sox hopes in the eighth, he knew one thing. He wouldn’t get a save.