The seventh inning was when Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury made the stage all their own. They played supporting roles for the Red Sox, providing unlikely sources of production in a four-run outburst that broke open the floodgates in Friday night’s 8-1 romp over the Cleveland Indians before a Fenway Park crowd of 34,074.
Called up from Triple A Pawtucket earlier in the day to fill in for injured third baseman Will Middlebrooks (lower-back strain), Iglesias was the first to take a star turn at the plate when he stepped in to face lefthanded reliever Rich Hill with one out and two aboard and the Sox holding a 4-1 advantage.
“I mean, Iggy was here a short time, but he was hitting .450 before he left,’’ said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who started the rally with a leadoff double to center.
“He’s going to hit,’’ Saltalamacchia said of Iglesias, who played third base for the first time as a major leaguer.
After striking out in his first two at-bats against Indians starter Justin Masterson — looking at a 95-mile-per-hour slider in the second inning and a 91-m.p.h. fastball in the fifth — Iglesias ripped a sharp single to left field to load the bases for Ellsbury, who had struck out twice in three at-bats against Masterson.
Ellsbury, who was 3 for 5 with five RBIs in bases-loaded situations this season, delivered a two-run single to right field that pushed across Saltalamacchia and pinch hitter Jonny Gomes, who had been hit by a pitch.
“He gets the big base hit through the 3-4 hole for the two runs and stretches things out for the four-run inning,’’ said manager John Farrell. “But Jacoby’s still working to gain some timing.
“Once again, we’re going against one of the best pitchers in the American League tonight. I’d like to look at the last four games for Jacoby and know that the corner is being turned. That’s what we see with the high number of times he’s on base in those four games.’’
After Daniel Nava popped to third baseman Mark Reynolds, Indians manager Terry Francona emerged from the dugout and summoned former Sox reliever Matt Albers to face Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia greeted Albers by rifling a two-run single to right that proved the crowning blow of the inning. “I was just trying to have a good at-bat,’’ Pedroia said. “He pitched me tough and I was able to find a hole.’’
But Pedroia knew it was Ellsbury’s hit, with the bases loaded, that proved critical.
“It was a big at-bat for him,’’ Pedroia said. “A good piece of hitting for him. [Hill’s] tough. We’ve all seen that. He stayed in there and stayed on it and smoked that ball.’’
Iglesias and Ellsbury executed their roles to perfection when the spotlight was on them, but Pedroia felt they were far from being unlikely sources of production.
“We have confidence in all of our guys,’’ he said. “It’s only going to be a matter of time where we string together quality at-bats and score a lot of runs.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.