Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers carried the Red Sox lineup at times through May, and both J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo offered solid follow-ups to their outstanding Aprils. But in addition to that Big Four, the Sox enjoyed the emergence of another player who delivered steady thump throughout the month of May.
Outfielder Hunter Renfroe offered the lone note of encouragement for the Red Sox in their 11-2 loss to the Astros on Monday, going 2-for-3 with a double and a 419-foot homer. He scored both Red Sox runs.
The performance capped an impressive month of May in which Renfroe hit .319 with a .333 OBP and .604 slugging mark while smashing six homers. In his final four games of the month, he went 9-for-13 with two homers and five doubles.
“This guy, he’s a gamer. We know what he brings to the equation defensively. When he’s locked in, it’s fun to watch,” said manager Alex Cora. “He’s made some adjustments. He’s actually been more disciplined, although he’s not walking that much, but he’s controlling the at-bats… We’re very pleased with where he’s at offensively.”
For the season, Renfroe is hitting .258/.292/.464 with seven homers. Though most of his damage has come against lefties, he’s been enough of a threat against righties to make him an everyday contributor. He started 24 of 26 games for the Red Sox in May.
Cordero finding his rhythm
Franchy Cordero, optioned last week to Triple-A Worcester, homered in back-to-back games over the weekend. He’s 5-for-12 with two homers, a walk, and four strikeouts in 13 plate appearances over three games since joining the WooSox.
Cordero, of course, has offered disappointing initial returns for the Red Sox from their three-way trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City. Righthander Josh Winckowski (1.33 ERA, 26 strikeouts, 8 walks in 27 innings), however, has been excellent in Double-A Portland.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are expected to identify the other three players to be named from the deal (two from the Royals, one from the Mets) this week. Multiple major league sources said that the Sox have a June 4 deadline (the one-month mark of the minor league season) to select the players to be named in the deal.
The Red Sox bullpen entered Monday with a 1.93 ERA over its previous nine games. After the relief crew blew five save opportunities in the first half of the month, it safely secured every lead over the final two weeks of May.
“Everybody’s kind of getting in that groove and we’re just trying to keep the leads and keep our team close from behind and just do our job,” said Adam Ottavino. “I think everybody’s having a good time right now and we’re trying to keep that going.”
Ottavino has regained his footing as a setup man, recording seven straight scoreless appearances spanning 6 2/3 innings while holding hitters to a 2-for-22 (.091/.259/.091) line and striking out 11 of 27 hitters (40.7 percent) entering Monday.
In front of closer Matt Barnes and Ottavino, the Red Sox have felt increasingly comfortable employing lefty Josh Taylor in high-leverage situations. Taylor entered Monday with 11 scoreless appearances (8 innings) in May, holding hitters to a .148/.258/.185 line with a 25.8 percent strikeout rate.
“His stuff looked electric [on Saturday],” said manager Alex Cora. “He’s in a good place. He’s made some adjustments. Physically, I do believe that he’s taking care of his body a little bit better. He’s able to bounce back, he can go back-to-back with good stuff, and right now he’s on a roll.”
Amidst a blowout, catcher Christian Vázquez moved from catcher to third base for the eighth inning. It marked the ninth time in Vázquez’s career that he’d manned the hot corner.
Though Marwin Gonzalez had a flyout to deep center in the eighth, he went 0-for-3 and is now 2-for-29 with a .069/.129/.069 line in his last 11 games. His .587 OPS since the start of 2020 is fifth-lowest among the 182 big leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances in that time.
Duran, Casas go for gold
Team USA faced Nicaragua in its opening game of the Baseball Americas Olympic qualifier. Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran batted second and played center, while Triston Casas was in the seventh spot of the lineup as the first baseman.
Team USA needs to win the eight-team tournament to secure an Olympic berth. If the team finishes the tournament in second or third place, it will have one more chance to qualify for the Olympics in Mexico from June 22-27.
Team USA will play the Dominican Republic on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Alex Speier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.