If the Red Sox make a postseason push, they should look back at their latest homestand as the one that helped save their season.
When the Red Sox departed from their Texas series last week with the Rangers, they felt as if something was beginning to click. Ideally, they would have liked to have taken a sweep from the Rangers, nevertheless, they completed that two-city road trip, which included a two-game series with the Braves, with a 3-2 record. Their bats began to wake up with the team hitting .274 and scoring 31 runs over that five-game span.
“I think the weather helps,” manager Alex Cora said Sunday morning. “It’s no coincidence that when we went to Atlanta it was warmer and the ball started flying. When we went to Texas we knew the ball was going to fly. It’s hard to hit in 30 degrees and it’s windy and all that stuff.”
Yet there was a chilling truth in what the Red Sox were still facing when they began their series with the Astros followed by their most recent series against the Mariners. They were 4-9 at home before that series with Houston. Cora pointed to that home record, saying his team needed to be better. The Sox still owned a 13-21, the worst record in the division, a half a game behind the depleted Orioles and 4½ games back of a wild card spot. Furthermore, they had Houston on their schedule for a three-game set, a team that had won nine of their last 10 games during that time. Houston wanted to get the Red Sox while they were down. Astros manager Dusty Baker knew the Sox were capable of erupting at any point. He didn’t trust that the talent on this roster, particularly offensively, would lay dormant for too long.
He was right.
The Sox took two of three against the Astros. They responded in their rubber match with the Astros after being shellacked, 13-4, the previous evening when their ace Nate Eovaldi surrendered five homers in an inning. The Sox punctuated the series finale with Nick Pivetta tossing a complete game two-hitter against arguably the best offense in baseball and a team that beat the Sox in the American League Championship Series last year.
“I mean, that’s baseball, but I think this series is really important for all of us,” Pivetta said after his start against Houston. “We all know what happened last year to go out and win a series against them, it’s really important. They’re a good baseball club. It’s just competitive all around. It’s been good baseball. It’s been a lot of fun.”
That helped set the tone for what was next: a four-game sweep of the Mariners. Franchy Cordero delivered the exclamation point with his walkoff grand slam, his first homer of the season and his first career walkoff. The Sox’ 6-1 homestand proved that the team’s bats are, indeed, alive. They hit a staggering .293/.348/.570 with a .919 OPS. They belted 15 homers and scored 48 runs. Their 4-9 home record is now 10-10.
“Energy comes from offense,” said Cora.
The Sox have energy and swagger.
“That was a huge sweep right there,” Christian Arroyo said. “It’s hard to sweep in the big leagues in a three-game series let alone four-game series against a good Seattle Mariners team.”
The Red Sox travel to Chicago for a three-game set with the White Sox which is set to begin Tuesday. After that, they should get a little breathing room with three straight series against weaker opponents in the Orioles, Reds, and the Athletics.
The Sox (19-22) still have an uphill battle but their latest homestand should be a sign that meaningful baseball will be played at Fenway this summer.