Red Sox outfielders were hitless in 32 at-bats over the first three games of the season, a not-so-gentle reminder that Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. aren’t walking through that door.
The Sox are hoping Alex Verdugo and a mishmash of inexpensive platoon hitters and utility players can provide enough offense to make this season an interesting one.
Through four games, the Sox have used four different outfield alignments and five different outfielders. Get used to it, this is where they are as a team.
It leads to lineups with the right fielder hitting eighth and the left fielder ninth, as was the case against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
It worked just fine in an 11-2 victory as the Sox ended a seven-game losing streak against the Rays at Fenway that went back to 2019.
Left fielder Franchy Cordero was 2 for 4 and drove in two runs, the first with a double off the wall in the second inning that got the Sox going.
Right fielder Hunter Renfroe was 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Verdugo snapped an 0-for-28 streak dating back to last season when he doubled leading off the fourth. He finished 2 for 4 and drove in two runs.
“He’s a good player,” manager Alex Cora said. “A very emotional guy. There’s something about bringing energy that’s not about going 4 for 4 or 0 for 4. You can bring energy regardless.”
Renfroe, Cordero and Verdugo had singles in the eighth inning as the Sox scored four runs to put the game away.
In all, the outfielders had a hand in eight of the runs as the Sox came to life after a discouraging three-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles.
With Tyler Glasnow the scheduled starter for the Rays on Tuesday, the Sox needed it.
Cordero had a particularly interesting night. With two outs and Christian Vazquez at third, Cordero got a high fastball from Michael Wacha and went the other way with it off the wall with a loud thunk.
“He got jammed on that ball,” Cora said. “That’s probably a good sign for him, good feedback. He doesn’t have to pull everything. He can stay inside the ball and good things will happen.”
When Cordero came up again in the fourth inning, it was with a runner on third and one out. With the Rays playing the infield in, he fouled off three two-strike pitches before hitting the ball hard enough to the right side that first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo went to his knees to stop it.
Tsutsugo took the out at first as Marwin Gonzalez scored. Cordero returned to the dugout for a round of high fives.
“That’s something that we feel he can do,” Cora said. “Obviously it’s not that easy at this level. He tried to make contact.”
The 26-year-old Cordero looks like a football player, as Cora has mentioned a few times already this season. Scouts swoon about his athletic ability.
But the Sox are Cordero’s third team in three years and he’s spent more time on the injured list than on the field since 2019. When he has played, Cordero has struck out in 39 percent of his at-bats.
When Chaim Bloom sent Benintendi to the Royals in February, it was for Cordero and four prospects, three who are players to be named later.
You get the impression that the Sox were determined to get the prospects in that deal and are taking a flyer on Cordero to see if he can unlock his talent.
“We had those amazing three guys that we had on our teams in the past,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “All were great in their own way and we miss them, especially me because I played with them so long.
“But you’ve got to move on in life and we have our new guys and they’re adjusting to playing multiple positions. Hopefully they get comfortable and just continue helping us out because we definitely need them.”