It takes a village for an entire offense to come to a grinding halt, as the Red Sox lineup has in this ALCS, which makes Hunter Renfroe the village chief.
Despite the right fielder’s struggles at the plate this series — 1 for 14 with one RBI — and the Red Sox one loss from the end to their season, manager Alex Cora and Renfroe’s teammates have faith that Renfroe and everyone else in the lineup deserve another shot at Astros starting pitching.
“No,” said Cora to a query about considering any changes to his lineup for Game 6 Friday at Houston.
Cora stood by Renfroe, who twice grounded into double plays in a 9-1 loss in Game 5 at Fenway Park Wednesday.
The manager did not say Renfroe, whose five GIDPs tie a postseason record, is going to snap out of his funk in time, just that he will get another chance.
“I think tonight, 2-and-0 count, he tried to do too much on that pitch, right?” said Cora, referring to the fifth inning, when Renfroe, with runners on first and second and no outs, topped a pitch from Astros starter Framber Valdez to thwart a prime scoring chance with the Astros leading, 1-0.
“Actually, it was a good pitch to hit, it was up in the zone, one of the few. He flew open and hit the ball on the ground and rolled over. It’s one of those, obviously, we didn’t like it, but this is a guy that throughout the season he has done an amazing job and he has played great defense for us. He has been good offensively.”
J.D. Martinez downplayed Renfroe’s struggles.
“He comes today and rolls over two balls — it happens, it’s life, no one is perfect,” said Martinez. “He could have easily hit the ball off the Wall, hit a home run. You saw [Houston’s Jose] Altuve was 0 for 12, something they were talking about, and then he hits a home run, a big one.”
Martinez noted that Renfroe is handling the downturn well.
“We talked after the game a bit, and I was sharing my ideas of what I see with him,” said Martinez, who pointed out that Renfroe was denied a big hit in Game 4 Tuesday night when third baseman Alex Bregman stabbed a ball at the hot corner. “I think Hunter has been even-keeled all year, I don’t see him down at all.
“It’s the playoffs, man. At the end of the day, it’s, ‘Are we winning?’ That’s it. Whether you are 0 for 10 or going 10 for 10, did we win? That’s all we care about. Getting on base and kind of just keeping the train moving.”
Renfroe’s regular-season thunder was not in doubt. He hit 31 homers, with 96 RBIs and a .501 slugging percentage, a testament to his power.
He went 5 for 17 (.294) in the four Division Series games against the Rays, but he did not have an RBI.
Over 10 postseason games, he is hitting .206 (7 for 34) with 1 RBI, no homers, 7 walks, and 11 strikeouts.
For a team that scored 25 times and tallied 32 hits over its first three games of this ALCS, the same nine hitters have scored three times and managed eight hits over the last two.
Cora is not going to change anything now.
“We’ll keep rolling them out there,” said the manager, “and tomorrow is a good day to reset — talk about what’s going on, what they’ve done the last few days, and make adjustments.
“We know we can hit. Two bad games doesn’t mean that all of a sudden we’re not a good offensive team. It’s just a matter of regroup, make some adjustments, and attack from the first pitch on.”