For at least one game, the Boston Red Sox turned AT&T Park in San Francisco into a hitter's park. All season long, only one ballpark in the major leagues has possessed more of a run-discouraging environment than AT&T Park, but the Red Sox offense did not allow that to stop them in Wednesday's contest. The reward for overcoming the toxic atmosphere that all offenses encounter when playing at the Giants' home park was putting 12 runs on the scoreboard in a 12-1 victory.
The most surprising aspect of the offensive outburst of the Red Sox was that it was partly powered by the long ball. Considering where they were playing, home runs should have been hard to come by, but the Red Sox hitters ended up having a lot of success with the fly balls they hit in the game. Although the Red Sox hit just 10 fly balls out of the 30 balls they put into play, two of those fly balls turned into home runs, netting the Red Sox a home run to fly ball rate of 20.0 percent. Hitting two home runs off of 10 fly balls would have been an impressive feat anywhere, but to do it at AT&T Park is nothing short of astounding even if luck and statistical variance played a part in the proceedings.
Home runs were not the only ways in which the Red Sox offense excelled on Wednesday. They also collected a more than expected number of doubles for a single game. AT&T Park does not suppress doubles at the same rate as it does home runs, and is actually mostly neutral when it comes to teams hitting doubles, but even so, the Red Sox's four doubles in the game were surprising, especially the four doubles that comprised a third of the hits the team had overall.
All told, the six extra-base hits the Red Sox accumulated in the pitcher-friendly ballpark played a part in 11 of the 12 runs they scored. They also contributed to the team's impressive .564 slugging percentage and .397 wOBA.
Interestingly enough, while the San Francisco Giants pitchers failed to benefit from the dimensions of their own stadium, the Red Sox pitchers certainly did. In fact, Red Sox starting pitcher Felix Doubront absolutely needed the run-suppressing AT&T Park to emerge largely unscathed during his start.
Despite the fact Doubront only allowed one earned run during his 8.0 innings on the mound, he did so largely on the strength of a .174 batting average on balls in play and by enjoying the fact that fly balls so often turn into non-home runs in AT&T Park, not necessarily because he was dominating. The Giants hit 14 fly balls off of Doubront's offerings, but only a single one managed to become a home run. In any other ballpark, the number of home runs could have been higher considering just how many fly balls were hit against him. Then again, maybe more home runs would not have been hit considering how fortunate Doubront has been with the lowly percentage of fly balls he has allowed that have morphed into home runs this season (8.0 HR/FB%).
The Red Sox won the game because the offense and the defense approached the ballpark in different ways. Offensively, in scoring 12 runs, the offense had to overcome the ballpark's natural run-suppressing urges at almost every turn, but defensively, starting pitcher Doubront benefited from the expert way in which the ballpark keeps home runs from occurring at too high a rate.