No fireworks were set off during the Red Sox’ 4-0 win over Tampa Bay on Independence Day, but Trevor Story’s 408-foot home run seemed enough to spark the sellout Fenway crowd.
In the bottom of the fourth inning on a 1-0 count, Story sliced a 91.6 mile-per-hour sinker to the sweet spot he had his eye on in right-center field for a solo shot.
“They always feel good, but more special at home for sure in front of our fans and at Fenway,” Story said.
It was a hit that has been coming for the 29-year-old. Story said his inconsistencies at the plate come from a mix of pitch selection and timing. In the Sox’ road trip to Cleveland, Toronto, and Chicago he homered once and recorded only six hits across the nine games.
But in Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs, Story, a righthander, drilled one to right field at Wrigley. It was caught for an out, but manager Alex Cora said it was the start Story needed.
“That was a good sign and then he didn’t miss [today.] That was a big one for us,” said Cora. “Hopefully it’s the beginning of something good for him.”
Hitting to the opposite field is a sign to Story. He said he knows he is “at his best” when the contact starts veering right.
“I think that’s a good sign for me, over my career, that I’m driving the ball that way,” he said. “That means I’m doing what I want to do and I’m staying on the pitches, so yeah, I’m happy with that today and looking to continue that.”
Story’s home run, his 13th of the season, put the Red Sox on the board. He also recorded a hit in the second inning, advancing on an infield single, the first of many small-ball plays the Sox capitalized on.
The Rays were charged with just one error – given to pitcher Josh Fleming in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded – but second baseman Isaac Paredes fumbled two grounders himself as the Red Sox paraded around the bases.
“I know it sounds pretty simple but playing hard and making these guys make plays … over the past few days we’ve gotten some runs out of it,” said Story. “We’re not always going to slug, we’re not always going to bang the baseball around, but little things like that go good for an offense.”
As a team, the Sox tallied 11 hits, four of which didn’t leave the infield.
“Putting the ball in play in certain situations, running hard to first base paid off for us,” Cora said.
“It was only four [runs], right? But I think we kept fighting with them, we kept putting good at bats and at the end we got four and won the game.”
Jayna Bardahl was a Globe intern in 2022. Follow her on Twitter @Jaynabardahl.