The White Sox scored 10 runs for Phil Humber, who proceeded to run a clinic on how to pitch with a lead.
When you're spotted a 6-1 lead that later blossoms into a 10-1 lead, the formula for pitching is simple: throw strikes, and then throw more strikes. That's exactly what Humber did Tuesday night in Boston.
There was no messing around from Humber, who threw 69 strikes on 97 pitches. While his fastball didn't rate well, it didn't have to—all Humber had to do was throw it for a strike, allowing him to go to his outstanding curveball. Humber threw 44 fastballs, 30 of which were strikes. Only two generated a swing and a miss, but that wasn't the point of the pitch. Humber used it well to attack the strike zone, even if it wasn't his most effective offering.
Red Sox hitters had almost no chance against Humber's 12-6 curveball, though. He threw 26 curves, 20 of which were strikes and seven of which generated a swing and a miss. Two of those whiffs resulted in strikeouts on curves well out of the strike zone. Boston didn't have a good read on the pitch, which had as good of action on it as we've seen this season from Humber. Not many scouting reports can prepare a hitter for as good of a curveball as Humber threw on Tuesday, especially for hitters who haven't faced him in their careers.
About those 10 runs and A.J. Pierzynski: Alexei Ramirez had another huge game, picking up four hits in five at-bats. Three other Sox players reached base three times: Gordon Beckham (3-5), Pierzynski (2-4, one walk) and Adam Dunn (1-2, two walks).
Pierzynski's approach at the plate continued to look encouraging with his performance today. He's 10-31 on the road trip with three walks, but more importantly, he's started to move away from being a severe pull hitter. We're hardly dealing with an ideal sample size here, but take a look at Pierzynski's spray charts for May:
Both his hits today were to right field, but on the current road trip, seven of Pierzynski's 10 hits have come to right or center field. That's a good approach for a guy whose pull-happy nature led to all those frustrating groundouts to second earlier this year.
Granted, we're talking about a handful of at-bats here. Pierzynski very well could become enamored with trying to drive the ball to right again and fall right back into the same offensive doldrums he was in back during April and early May.
And even when he's hitting well, though, that he's not driving the ball is a problem. His offensive ceiling this season seems to be Juan Pierre with much less speed and a little more power—coming into Tuesday, Pierzynski had an ISO of .068; Pierre, .041.
But hey, if Pierzynski is reaching base without much power, that's better than him not reaching base without much power, as was the case before the Sox hit the road.