Maybe his 2-for-4 performance in Wednesday night’s 10-1 win against the Athletics was the type of game Trevor Story needed. He had aswinging bunt and an RBI single he punched through the right side, plus a walk in a win that could be what gets Story back on track.
The key to hitting is timing and Story is still trying to find his again. After a 14-game stretch back in May where Story slashed .283/.365/.811 with nine homers, a whopping 1.176 OPS, and 25 RBIs, the Sox second baseman has had a dry spell. Story entered against the A’s batting .183 since that 14-game hot streak. Story’s last homer came on May 26.
“It sounds very simple, but it can be a little complex sometimes,” Story said before the game. “I think when it comes down to it, the most important thing for hitting is timing. Right now I’m just a little inconsistent there.”
In addition to timing, Story said he’s simply missing pitches. Manager Alex Cora noted that Story is out in front of everything, too.
“He’s getting out there [with his swing] instead of letting the ball travel” Cora said. “Out in front on the fastball, breaking balls, everything. Hopefully he can stay inside of a few pitches and hit the ball to right-center.”
Story was hitting just .182 against the fastball before Wednesday, a career low for the two-time All-Star. Could the reason Story is ahead on pitches because he’s trying too hard to catch up to the fastball?
“We haven’t talked about it,” Cora said. “But the main thing I told him yesterday was that we’re going to be OK. He asked me something about what I saw, and I said ‘We’ll be OK.’ And he will be. It’s just a few things that we see from him, but we don’t want to overload him with information right now. We want the athlete, pretty similar to Jackie Bradley. Just put yourself in a good position to hit, and go for it.”
Sale throws pen
Chris Sale (right rib cage fracture) will throw a live batting practice Thursday morning between 15-20 pitches. James Paxton threw 17 pitches during a bullpen session Wednesday — all fastballs. “Obviously, I’ve got more bullpens to go and a long way to go still, but I’m happy with the direction right now,” said Paxton, who had a setback last month during his rehab and grew frustrated when his progression was stalled.
“I was at the point where I was throwing 30-35 pitches,” he said. “I was starting to think about live BP, and now I’m kind of back at the beginning, hoping to get back a lot sooner. But you can only do what you can do in these situations and I’m doing everything I can to get back as fast as possible.”
Taylor on the mound
Lefty reliever Josh Taylor, who has been out all season with a back injury, faced five hitters on the field four hours before the game. With Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran and Christian Vázquez providing the competition, Taylor showed command of his pitches and appeared to throw without discomfort. He then ran through some fielding drills to further test his back. Taylor, who had a 3.69 ERA and averaged 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings from 2019-21 as the team’s primary lefthander out of the bullpen, is scheduled to face hitters again Saturday. From there he could start a minor league rehab assignment . . . Alex Verdugo went 3 for 5 with four RBIs. He recorded his fourth homer of the season on a two-run blast in the sixth inning off A’s reliever Domingo Acevedo to snap a drought of 210 homer-less plate appearances . . . The Red Sox optioned righthander Phillips Valdez to Triple-A Worcester. Christian Arroyo was placed on the COVID-related injured list. Cora confirmed Wednesday that Arroyo tested positive. The team recalled Duran from Worcester . . . Jonathan Aráuz, who was designated for assignment last week, was claimed off waivers by the Orioles . . . The Red Sox celebrated Pride Night at Fenway Wednesday. Tiffani Faison, the owner of the Boston-based restaurant group Big Heart Hospitality, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Malik Correia, a vocalist and humanitarian from New Bedford who performs under the name Nosame, performed the national anthem.