There was an understandable clamor for the Red Sox to make a trade or two to improve their lineup as they fell further behind in the American League East.
But with three-plus months remaining in the season and so many teams within hailing distance of a playoff berth, swinging a significant deal would surely require a steep price in terms of talent or payroll, if not both.
For the Sox, improvement has to come from inside their clubhouse. That’s what made Friday’s 10-3 victory against the Cleveland Indians so noteworthy.
On a night when the Sox scored their most runs this season, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava showed that the Red Sox could already have their answers.
Napoli, batting fifth, was 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs. Nava, the next man in the order, was 2 for 4 with a double and one RBI. With A.J. Pierzynski dropped to seventh, as was the intention from the beginning, the Sox suddenly look formidable.
“We know the type of offense that we have. We know the type of team that we have. It’s nice to get things rolling,” Nava said.
After scoring 23 runs on their 2-7 road trip, the Sox have 15 runs on 23 hits — 10 for extra bases — in the last two games and have gone 10 for 25 with runners in scoring position.
The Sox have won four of their last six games and at 31-36 may yet be able to regain some viability in the division.
Eight players scored at least one run on Friday. Pierzynski and Dustin Pedroia contributed two-run doubles. Rookie third baseman Xander Bogaerts capped the night with a loud solo home run off the light tower in left field in the eighth inning. That ended his 0-for-19 slump.
John Lackey (8-4) pitched into the seventh inning for the victory. He allowed three runs on seven hits. Lackey was down, 2-0, early but was helped out by the offense.
“I’ll take that any time. It was a great night,” Lackey said. “Little bit of everything. Played great defense, guys swung the bats well. It was a fun night.”
Lackey (8-4), Andrew Miller, and Burke Badenhop held the Indians to one hit over the final six innings.
Nava was in the lineup to start the season but lasted only 17 games and 67 at-bats before the Red Sox demoted him to Triple A Pawtucket. A second chance in May produced 10 more fruitless at-bats.
When Mike Carp broke his right foot, Nava was recalled again and this time he might stick. He is 11 of 26 over eight games since coming back. Thursday and Friday were his first consecutive multihit games of the season.
Nava, who was hitting .136 when the month started, is starting to look more like the player who was one of the most productive outfielders in the league last season.
“Very much so,” manager John Farrell said. “He looks confident in the box, he’s relaxed, he’s in a better position . . . A guy like Daniel Nava getting his stroke back goes a long way toward lengthening out of the lineup.”
As he searched for his swing in the minors, Nava tried to remember what he accomplished last season and how much of this season remained.
“There’s a lot of season left for this team, too,” Nava said. “I wouldn’t call it panic. But guys wanted to turn it around because we knew we were a better team than we were playing. We’re getting back to where we feel we belong.”
The return of Napoli from the disabled list on Sunday also was important. He is 8 of 21 with two extra-base hits and four RBIs in six games. Napoli’s opposite-field two-run double in the third inning gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead.
“Overall we’re just playing good baseball,” Napoli said. “Defensive side, getting good pitching. Scrapping away for runs while we can.”
Napoli was surprised to learn the 10 runs were a season high.
“That’s pretty crazy,” he said. “I’d like to do it a lot more. Hopefully there’s more to come.”
While Nava helps, having Napoli back eases pressure on Pedroia and David Ortiz to carry the load.
“When there’s contributions up and down the lineup then certain guys don’t feel they have to get something if they’re at the plate with runners in scoring position,” Farrell said. “To know and trust one another up and down the lineup, that’s what make us tick best.”
Indians starter Justin Masterson faced the Red Sox in Cleveland on June 2 and threw seven shutout innings, striking out 10 and allowing only three hits. He did not get through three innings on Friday and was charged with five runs.
Pierzynski had a two-run double in the second inning before Jackie Bradley Jr. (2 for 4) tripled.
Masterson walked Bogaerts and Pedroia to start the third inning and Indians manager Terry Francona decided that was enough after 59 pitches as Masterson had thrown only 28 strikes.
Lefthander Kyle Crockett, recalled from the minors earlier in the day, got Ortiz on a fly ball to left field. Napoli then doubled to drive in two more runs.