DETROIT -- Talk about back-to-back batting barrages. This was one script the Red Sox were all too happy to re-write. The venue changed from Cleveland to Detroit, but the offense packed similar wallop as one day earlier, breaking out early en route to a 14-1 rain-shortened victory over the Tigers in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday.
Following Wednesday's 14-2 romp over the Indians, the offense again wasted no time putting up crooked numbers.
Nobody has stood out more the last two days than Carl Crawford, who suddenly looks more than comfortable in a Boston uniform. Crawford went 4-for-5 with a pair of triples, one day after another four-hit explosion in which he fell a triple shy of the cycle.
"He's squaring up balls, he's pulling balls in the gap," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's using his legs. It was a matter of time, but it's certainly nice to see."
It marked the first time Crawford has produced back-to-back four-hit games in his career, and the first time a Boston player has done so since Dustin Pedroia during his Most Valuable Player Award season of 2008.
"It feels good," Crawford said. "We're winning, the team's hitting, and everybody's playing well. It's nice to be contributing and seeing everybody else is swinging the bats well. We just hope we can keep that going."
And on the strength of the two romps, the Red Sox moved into a tie with the Yankees for the top spot in the American League East -- the first time Boston has had any share of first this season. Because the Yankees have one fewer loss, they actually still lead the Sox by three percentage points.
It seems like quite a while ago the Sox were 2-10 and searching for their identity. In May, the Red Sox are a Major League-best 17-7.
"I think we've gotten a lot better than our first two weeks," said catcher Jason Varitek. "We still survive on how well we start with our pitching and allow that offense to get going. Today was another day where the offense got going right away."
It marked the largest back-to-back outbursts by the Red Sox since July 2-3, 1998, when they scored 15 in consecutive wins. Jimy Williams was at the helm of the Red Sox back then.
Thirteen years later, Francona enjoyed watching his team put on a similar display, but wasn't carried away by it.
"You know what, I'm glad," Francona said. "Two good days in a row. But as far as tomorrow goes, [Tigers starter Rick] Porcello will have something to say about it. That's always the case. I'm glad we swung the bats good. It's nice to have games like that every once in a while, because it's good for you."
Crawford's revival has sent his average from .212 to .244 in the span of just two days.
"I've got to take what I can get right now, you know?" said Crawford.
The only thing that could stop Boston's bats, it seemed, was Mother Nature. The game was delayed by rain for 55 minutes, and never resumed, in the bottom of the eighth.
If Crawford took center stage, he had a lot of help from his supporting cast.
Josh Reddick, fresh off a morning recall from Triple-A Pawtucket, started in right field and came through with three hits while scoring twice. Utilityman Drew Sutton started at his third different position in three days -- shortstop this time -- and came through with a pair of doubles. David Ortiz scored three times and clubbed two hits.
"Yeah, that's what you hope for," Francona said. "Reddick's been swinging good and he's done this before. You know, a couple of years ago, he came up in that Baltimore series and gave us kind of a jumpstart. He did it again today. Sutton had some good at-bats. That's good -- good for us."
In this one, the Sox scored five in the second inning, two more in the third and never looked back, staging another cruise-control matinee, this one played under dreary and sometimes moist skies.
Alfredo Aceves was the beneficiary of the latest batting barrage. And just like Jon Lester a day earlier, he didn't let the comfortable score affect his approach.
Making his second start since moving into the rotation to replace the injured duo of John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Aceves fired six strong innings, allowing five hits and one run. He walked two and struck out six, throwing 98 pitches.
"I made the comment last time that I'm a pitcher," said Aceves. "I'm a pitcher -- that's what I do. It doesn't matter if I'm a reliever or a closer."
But in his two starts since entering the rotation, Aceves is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA.
Max Scherzer, who came in with a 6-1 record and a 2.98 ERA, didn't fare so well for the Tigers.
"Ortiz stuck his bat out, hit the ball down the left-field line," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "Crawford hit it off the end of the bat, got a base hit out of it. Those were pretty good pitches. And then he made a couple bad pitches. When he threw it good today, they hit it actually bad, but they got good results. And when he threw it bad, they hit it good and still got good results."
Sutton put Boston on the board with a two-run double in the second. With one out, Jacoby Ellsbury mauled a three-run homer to right, his fifth of the season.
In the third, Crawford had the big hit, ripping a two-run triple to center to chase Scherzer.
It was more of the same for the rest of the afternoon.