10/25/07 2:45 AM ET
Shock and awe
Red Sox's offense not slowing down for anybody
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Only the 1906 White Sox and 1925 Pirates had tallied eight doubles in a World Series game. The Red Sox matched it by the end of the fifth inning of their 13-1 thumping of the Rockies on Wednesday. No team had scored this many runs in a World Series opener. Nor had any team scored double-digit runs in three straight postseason games.
Done, done and done. Stretch that out to their last four games, and the combined margin of victory is 43-6. The opposing starting pitchers in those games -- C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook and now Jeff Francis -- had a combined regular-season record of 61-33 with a 3.64 ERA.
However, that's not how the Red Sox judge the quality of their offense. They look at the at-bats during a game, look at the result and then look at the stats later.
"After the fact, you say, 'Wow, man,'" third baseman Mike Lowell said. "But I think you're so focused on inning to inning and at-bat to at-bat that all that other stuff is better pregame and postgame. I think we were just proud of the fact that guys were hitting balls hard."
Or, as Kevin Youkilis put it, "We don't worry about the stats we had in the past, because they don't matter anymore. It's going game to game, pitch to pitch, and I think that's what we're doing real well right now."
And that, as much as any of the numbers, puts a smile on a hitting coach.
"It's a lot of fun for a hitting coach," said Dave Magadan, who holds that role for the Sox. "It's fun to see that. I'm proud of these guys. We have our meetings. We talk about how we want to approach these pitchers. I'm fortunate enough to have guys that can see it through and can go up, take an approach and stick with it, make whatever minor adjustments they have to make during the at-bat. It's special. They realize what's at stake here. They're so focused, it's fun to watch."
It's not so much fun for the pitcher. Francis left Wednesday's game after four innings with 103 pitches, having allowed six runs on 10 hits and three walks.
For the Red Sox, the approach is the foundation. They don't put up their numbers hacking at first pitches or chasing balls out of the strike zone. They're not the aggressive team the numbers would suggest. Boston is patient enough to wait out a pitcher to make a mistake and then strike. Yet if the pitcher challenges them, the Sox will make him pay early.
On Wednesday, that discipline was on display. They didn't chase, no matter what the movement Francis showed. And when he had to come over the plate, they didn't miss. It was a workmanlike offensive machine, and it ate up another gifted pitcher.
"If a guy's throwing up around 100 pitches in the fifth inning, it's time for him to get out of the game," said Dustin Pedroia, whose leadoff home run set the tone. "I think that's the biggest thing. We try to wear down starters and get in their bullpen."
When the Rockies pulled Francis, they replaced the left-hander with about as opposite a reliever as they could find, hard-throwing right-hander Franklin Morales. The result was six hits and one walk in one turn through the order, resulting in seven runs once Ryan Speier walked all three batters he faced.
"They have a guy coming up behind Francis that's a completely different pitcher," Magadan said, "but it really doesn't change our approach any. He's going to have to throw a pitch in the zone. If he throws it there, we'll hopefully put a good swing on it. And if not, we're going to get the pitcher to come to us. When we're doing that like we've been doing, it makes it tough to go through our lineup."
It's a philosophy that has paid off for the Red Sox, moreso this postseason than in the regular season. While the Yankees and Tigers made most of the offensive headlines in the American League, they're all at home now. October has served as a reminder why Boston is so dangerous.
Manny Ramirez has reached base 30 times in 48 plate appearances this postseason. Ortiz is 27-for-47 in that category, while Youkilis is 26-for-51 ahead of them. Their on-base percentage is stunning, and their hitting isn't far behind -- .426 average, 11 home runs, 34 RBIs and 41 runs scored.
The approach works.
"This team, they obviously have the moneyball [moniker] and all that -- blah, blah, blah," Youkilis said. "But I think this team just goes up to bat, has a great approach and is going to be aggressive but also patient at the same time. We go up there and we're going to swing at the pitches that we can hit and hit hard. We're just going to work counts and try to get on base as much as possible."
It's a simple approach, but it's not unique. Plenty of teams talk about doing it. The beauty for the Red Sox is in the execution.
It would be easy for Magadan to take credit for the difference, but he spreads it around.
"I think what happens," he said, "our hitters, for the most part, are talented enough to see it through. Our hitters try not to panic when they get behind in the count. They've got a real good idea. We've got an extensive video system. We've got unbelievable advance scouts. We spare no cost in sending guys out, looking at the pitchers we're going to face, the extensive video. Our guys take advantage of it.
"A lot of teams have that at their disposal, but a lot of guys don't take advantage of it. Our guys do."
If the Red Sox can carry that approach and the results through the rest of the Fall Classic, their postseason video will be a hitting clinic for teams to watch. The results will be scary, and not just for the numbers.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.