Red Sox Finding Their Offensive Mojo


It has taken nearly six weeks into the regular season, but the Red Sox appear to have hit their stride offensively.  Attribute it to whatever you will; the coming of warmer weather, facing mediocre pitching, or the emergence and ascension of Michael Chavis, this week the Red Sox were clicking on all cylinders offensively.  In this week’s Red Sox Column to be Named Later, I look at the Red Sox resurging offense, see who’s tending up and who’s trending down, and take a look at what lies in the week ahead.

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

In the past week the Red Sox won back-to-back series for the first time in 2019.  Earlier in the week they swept a struggling Oakland A’s team in a three game set at Fenway, averaging seven runs per game.  And after a disappointing walk-off loss to the White Sox in the opener of a four game series in Chicago, the Sox rebounded to take the final three games by scores of 6-1, 15-2, and 9-2 in the series finale on Sunday.

In Saturday night’s 15-2 win over the Pale Hose, the Red Sox scored early and often and displayed the relentless offensive attack from last season.  This was best exemplified in the third inning when, after Steve Pearce led off the inning by striking out and Eduardo Nunez popped out to first, the next eleven men reached base safely including an incredible ten straight hits.  When the dust settled, the Red Sox had scored nine runs and the game had been turned into a laugher.  They then followed it up by putting another crooked number on the scoreboard in the fourth, plating five more in the frame.

The eighth inning of Sunday’s finale showed another trait from the 2018 team that has generally been lacking this season, and that is making an opponent pay for their mistakes.  And in this case, pay dearly.

The score was knotted at two apiece as the eighth inning began.  J.D. Martinez started off the inning by hitting a laser to right that was caught on the warning track.  Rafael Devers followed that up with a single toward the gap in left field, but when Devers took too large of a turn around first, the White Sox attempted to throw behind him and catch him trying to get back to the bag.  What followed can be seen on any little league field in America when a pair of errant throws later and Devers found himself on third base.

Shop the Mother's Day Collection at MLBshop.comEarlier this season, this Red Sox team would have not taken advantage of the miscues and would have stranded Devers at third.  Chavis followed with a walk to put runners on first and third, and Mitch Moreland followed with a ground ball toward second base which had the potential to be an inning ending double play, but it found the hole and brought Devers in with the winning run, with Chavis taking third on the play. 

A Pearce strikeout followed for the second out, and a Jackie Bradley, Jr. walk then loaded the bases.  It was then that the magic of the 2018 season returned.  Nunez was summoned to hit for Sandy Leon and proceeded to hit a slow dribbler up the third base line.  When a team is going badly, the ball harmlessly rolls foul.  When they are going good, as things are lately for the Red Sox, the ball straddles the line and hits the third base bag and the insurance run comes in to score.

Once again, the Red Sox took advantage of their opponent’s mistakes and misfortunes.  Andrew Benintendi draw a bases loaded walk to force in another insurance run, and Xander Bogaerts put the nail in the White Sox coffin with a grand slam (another mark of the 2018 team).  By continuing to grind out at bats, the Red Sox capitalized on the chances they were given and turned a tight game was turned into a blow-out, a mark of a very good team.

Trending Up

The Red Sox scored 55 runs in their past seven games, which means virtually everyone is trending up offensively.  Mookie Betts continued his hot hitting slashing .417/.500/.583 with a homer and six RBI.  Not to be outdone, Chavis turned in a .407/.500/.778 week with three homers and 8 RBI.  Other notables were Christian Vazquez (.385/.529/.615) and Devers (.367/.412/.600), who finally clubbed his first homer of the season, a titanic blast to center in Chicago, and added seven RBI for the week.

While the offense has gotten the headline, the pitchers have turned in some outstanding performances as well.  Chris Sale returned to Chicago and got his first win of the season, pitching six shutout innings with ten strikeouts.  Heath Hembree (0 H, 0 ER, 3 Ks in 2.1 IP) and Marcus Walden (2 H, 0 ER, 4 Ks in 4.0 IP) stood out in the bullpen ranks.

Trending Down

Pearce has not been able to get on track in 2019, and his playing time has diminished as a result.  Pressed into service this week due to injuries to Bradley and Tzu-Wei Lin, Pearce went 2-12 with no extra base hits, though he did contribute two RBI.

Ryan Brasier’s blown save in the first game in Chicago prevented the Red Sox from a perfect week.  Brasier was unable to hold a one run lead in the ninth and surrendered a walk-off three run home run to the White Sox pinch hitter Nicky Delmonico, his first home run of the season.  Brasier may have gotten out of the inning unscathed if not for Devers’ booting of a routine grounder with one out in the inning. 

Devers leads the team with nine errors this season, and should be substituted for defense late in close games.  But with injuries depleting the infield ranks, and Chavis still learning to play second base at the big league level, Manager Alex Cora has had no choice but to take his chances with Devers in the game.

Looking Ahead

The Red Sox now head to Baltimore to take on an Orioles team which, as expected, has dropped like a stone into the American League East cellar.  They will need more offensive magic in Game 1 because they will be sending journeyman Josh Smith to the mound to make his first start of the 2019 season.  The 31 year old was 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three starts with AAA Pawtucket, notching 23 strikeouts in 16.2 innings pitched.

After an off day Thursday, the Sox return to Fenway for a three game rematch with the Mariners.  The Mariners had their way with the Red Sox to start the season, but they have hit the skids of late, losing seven of their last ten games.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Red Sox Finding Their Offensive Mojo
Red Sox Finding Their Offensive Mojo
Boston Sports Syndicate
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