By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The Red Sox still have some work to do, and we all know things can change quickly. After winning three straight at Tampa last weekend, after all, the Red Sox returned home and were promptly swept by the Detroit Tigers in a doubleheader on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
But if you’re looking for small signs that the team is waking up, the third inning Thursday night is a good start.
After taking a 2-0 lead on a Michael Chavis home run in the second inning, the Red Sox promptly spit up the lead and fell behind 3-2 in the top of the third when Rick Porcello failed to execute a shutdown inning. The air quickly came out of the Boston balloon before the Sox tied the game in the bottom of the third on a single by J.D. Martinez, leaving the Sox with one out and runners at first and second.
That’s when this happened:
Seems like a basic play, right? Xander Bogaerts hits what could have been an inning-ending double play to the left side, but hustles to extend the inning and give Rafael Devers a chance. And then – though not shown on the video – Alex Cora gave Devers the green light on a 3-0 pitch, which Devers fouled off. The count ran to 3-2 – Devers fouling off what would have been ball four – before Devers hit a two-run double off the left field wall that gave the Sox a 5-3 edge.
They never trailed again and won, 7-3.
Here’s the point: Bogaerts’ hustled to extend an inning and then Cora got aggressive with a player who has been swinging a relatively hot bat. Devers is now hitting .319 with an .822 OPS in his last 15 games and .346 with an .895 OPS in his last eight.
Does that mean the real Sox are back? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it looks like the Red Sox are starting to hit and their starting pitchers (minus Hector Velasquez) have a 3.48 ERA over their last eight starts.
Tampa Bay arrives at Fenway Park tonight for a three-game series.
Let’s see what happens now.