The Red Sox still have some way to go to climb up the hole they’ve dug themselves into, but they have to start somewhere.
And maybe this week’s road trip could serve as a starting point.
One night after one of their best all-around efforts of the year, they kept going Saturday night in Texas. The attack sizzled again, Rich Hill was solid in his return, and the Red Sox beat the Rangers, 11-3, at Globe Life Field.
The victory was long under way for the Red Sox. With the win, they won their first series since taking two out of three from the Tigers on April 13 – which was previously their only league win in 10 to start the season – and they won their second game in a row for the first time since April 16- 17 mod Twins.
The Red Sox (13-20) can sweep over the Rangers when they meet old friend Martin Perez on Sunday afternoon.
1. The offense is locked
Maybe a trip down to warmer weather – first to Atlanta, then to Texas – helped the Red Sox’s bats warm up. But it probably has more to do with a better approach across the board, and it seems to be contagious.
The 11 runs and 14 hits on Saturday were both a season high. All Red Sox hitters except Trevor Story recorded a hit, and everyone in their lineup reached base at least once. They have scored 30 runs in their last four games, far from the anemic offense that scored 23 in their previous 10.
An outburst with four runs in the second was a good indicator of the progress they are making as a unit as they kept the line moving with a small ball. Even their outs were productive when Jackie Bradley Jr. performed a perfect sacrificial pile to move two runners over. Kiké Hernandez hit a victim flight to put the big bats in line, and Rafael Devers went on to hit a two-run homer – his sixth blast of the season – to give the Sox a 5-1 lead.
The red socks look more patient and selective on the plate. They drew four more times on Saturday, giving them 18 in their last four games. They take on average more than three times per. match in May.
JD Martinez also continued his breathtaking stretch. He hit a homer to open the scoring in the first, extending his league-best batting streak to 15 games.
2. The bottom of the row was click
For the first five weeks of the season, it was mostly the Red Sox’s heavy hitters – Devers, Martinez and Xander Bogaerts who anchored the lineup. But Saturday’s performance from the bottom of the row was a picture of the Sox’s attack at its best.
Red Sox ‘6-9 hitters by Franchy Cordero, Christian Vazquez, Bobby Dalbec and Bradley Jr. combined to go 8-to-18 with seven goals scored as they set the table for the top of the row.
Cordero and Dalbec’s performances were particularly promising. The two of them right now are the Sox’s daily first basemen (Cordero played left last Saturday for the injured Alex Verdugo), a position that has had the worst production in baseball. On Saturday, they came together to reach base six times.
Cordero ignited the rally in the second round with another walk – his sixth in 35 record matches – and later added an RBI single. Dalbec recorded his fourth multi-hit game of the season and the first since April 25th.
3. The ground is long
Hill had not pitched for nine days – he tested positive for COVID-19 last Saturday – when he took the mound on Saturday. It looked like he didn’t miss a beat as he gave up two deserved runs in six innings, his longest outing of the season.
The 42-year-old had not given up a deserved run in his previous three starts, and Rangers’ sleepy offensive was not the big issue for him. He gave up an early one in the first when Eli White reached on a foul from Story and stole two bases before scoring, but Hill otherwise mowed down Texas’ lineup, which included another inning of seven tones.
Hill had previously not hit more than five innings in a match, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him throw himself into the seventh, especially after he got free. It caught up with him in a hurry as he served three consecutive strokes to start the inning before being drawn.