The first pitch Shane Victorino saw from Wei-Yin Chen Tuesday night was a 93-mile-per-hour heater. But Chen quickly fell behind and walked Victorino on the next four pitches, as if he didn’t want any part of Boston’s energetic right fielder.
Perhaps the Orioles should have adopted that approach the rest of the night. It would have been in their best interest to pitch around Victorino.
The next time up, Victorino scorched a Chen fastball into the Monster seats for a two-run home run to help Boston regain a one-run lead – one they never relinquished as they thrashed Baltimore, 13-2.
It was a spectacular night for Victorino, one in which he went 3 for 3 with a career-high seven RBIs, a pair of home runs, and four runs. He reached base all five plate appearances, including a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Victorino did not seem to care that he was 7 for 36 against the Orioles entering Tuesday’s game.
“People are always going to look at what has happened,” said Victorino, who hit his 100th career home run. “I don’t care if I’m 10 for 10 off a guy. I’m more focused on what is going on right now. I don’t pay attention to how bad I’ve done, or how good I’ve done, tomorrow is a whole other day.
“Tonight I was the hero and had a good game, but tomorrow night, who knows?”
In the fifth inning, Victorino added his second home run of the game and his 11th of the season, this one a three-run shot against lefthander Troy Patton that scored Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury to extend Boston’s lead to 11-2.
In the seventh inning, he hit a two-out double off Brian Matusz and drove in two more runs, becoming the first Red Sox player to collect seven RBIs in a game since J.D. Drew did it against Arizona in 2007.
Victorino also became the first Red Sox since Dwight Evans to have seven RBIs and four runs in the same game.
“I don’t think you can do much better,” manager John Farrell said. “He and Dustin [Pedroia] just set the tone offensively at the top of the order.”
The Red Sox have hit just .255 against lefthanded pitching this season, and faced a good pitcher in Chen, who was 7-6 with a 3.19 ERA entering Tuesday’s start.
Led by Victorino’s performance, Boston knocked Chen out of the game after 3⅔innings — and eight runs.
When the Sox opted not to re-sign Cody Ross and signed Victorino to a three-year, $39 million deal, they were getting a veteran outfielder who helped Philadelphia to a World Series in 2008.
Over the last nine games, the 32-year-old outfielder is 16 for 36 (.444) with four home runs, five doubles, and 11 RBIs.
But Jonny Gomes will be the first to tell you Victorino’s hot streak is not unexpected.
“He’s been around for a while, he has a World Series ring on his finger, he’s a championship-caliber player,” Gomes said.
Victorino, a switch hitter, has missed 32 games this season because of back and hamstring injuries, which have prevented him from hitting from the left side of the plate.
Since early August, against the Diamondbacks, Victorino has rarely hit lefthanded. One of Victorino’s greatest assets was his switch-hitting ability, but the coaching staff has allowed Victorino to hit from the right side.
After Tuesday’s game, Farrell spoke about his right fielder’s toughness and ability to produce through the pain.
“Even when he was in and out of the lineup a couple of times, he fought it and didn’t want to come out,” Farrell said. “He’s got a very high pain threshold.’’
Pressed on how much his injury is bothering him, Victorino offered little insight.
“How much am I playing hurt?” Victorino asked quizzically. “That’s for me to know and you not to know. I just go out there and play the way I feel and go out there and give it all I can and leave it on the field. There’s no real answer for that question.”