Day One of the Texas Rangers’ stretch of 20 games in 20 days couldn’t have gone much worse Tuesday night.
Justin Grimm, making his first start against the team that originally drafted him, couldn’t get out of the second inning. Michael Kirkman didn’t fare much better in long relief.
Ryan Dempster, on the other hand, was turning in the type of mound performance against a contender than he failed to do almost all of last summer, including in game No. 162, with the Rangers.
Things got so bad that outfielder David Murphy pitched the eighth inning, and that was the only inning in which Boston didn’t score.
And all the while, ESPN was reporting that right fielder Nelson Cruz could be among 20 players suspended for his involvement with a anti-aging clinic that supplied him with performance-enhancing drugs.
“It just wasn’t our night tonight,” manager Ron Washington said. “It was all Red Sox.”
Boston scored eight times against Grimm, including six in the second inning, and the Red Sox collected 13 extra-base hits, a record for a Rangers opponent, en route to a 17-5 victory at Fenway Park.
The 10th extra-base hit was a fifth-inning home run by Mike Carp that sent Cruz head over heels into the Red Sox’s bullpen as he tried to catch it at the right-field wall. A much harder fall could be handed down in two weeks.
Cruz was first tied to the Biogensis of America clinic Jan. 31, and denied comment two weeks later upon arriving to spring training. The storyline had faded as Major League Baseball was having difficulty unearthing evidence, including the documents in the initial report by the Miami New Times.
But, according to ESPN, clinic founder Tony Bosch is prepared to spill the beans to MLB investigators within the next week, and punishment could be levied in two weeks.
A suspension to Cruz is sure to be appealed, which could keep him in the lineup until the appellate process is completed. Cruz said that he has not spoken to MLB investigators during the investigation.
“I guess it’s just part of the process,” he said. “They’re doing their job. I don’t have any other comment about it.”
Leonys Martin could be the first choice to replace Cruz. The Rangers could also opt for prospect Mike Olt from Triple A if he can show that his vision problems are no longer an issue. He homered Tuesday night for Round Rock.
The Rangers declined comment, but a source said that they club had not been contracted by MLB on a night that got out of hand from the first batter Grimm (5-4) faced.
He walked Daniel Nava, the first he had issued in 17 innings, and Nava and Carp would score later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.
The first five Red Sox reached and scored in the second, including two on the first major league homer by Jackie Bradley Jr. and another two on a triple by David Ortiz. A double by Jarrod Saltalamacchia chased Grimm, and a double by Stephen Drew off Michael Kirkman produced the eighth run charged to Grimm (5-4).
“I accept full responsibility for this loss,” he said. “From the get-go I had no fastball command. Against a tough lineup like that, you can’t work from behind.”
The Red Sox had one extra-base hit in every inning and at least one run in the first seven, including a homer to start each of the three innings Joseph Ortiz started.
The record-breaking extra-base hit came against Murphy to start the eighth, but he struck out Carp with a knuckleball and got Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz on flyouts. With Alexi Ogando coming off the disabled list to start tonight, the Rangers wanted to make sure they had enough pitching in case he can’t pitch deep into the game.
“I was just trying to give the bullpen a breather and trying to get through the inning without getting hurt,” Murphy said. “It was fun, and it will be fun to look back on it some day.”
Jeff Baker, Cruz and Mitch Moreland homered for the Rangers, but errors by Baker and Cruz in the sixth inning led to four more Red Sox runs.
The Baker and Cruz homers came off Ryan Dempster, who was acquired by the Rangers at the trade deadline last year. He posted a 7-3 record for them, but with a 5.09 ERA and only one win against a contending team.
That was just another blow on a tough night.
“It was exhausting,” Cruz said. “We’ll just shake it off and come back tomorrow and try to put it together again.”