Some baseball players like to linger in the clubhouse after a game. They’ll grab a bite to eat or sit down at a laptop to review what went right or wrong while it’s still fresh in their minds.
Then there’s Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi, who gets dressed and out the door quicker than a volunteer firefighter.
But there was no escaping a few curious reporters on Saturday, not after Benintendi was 3 for 4 with a home run and two doubles in a 9-5 victory against the Yankees.
The Sox have taken three straight games from the first-place Yankees with Benintendi collecting seven hits, scoring seven runs and driving in two more.
It’s part of an extended hot streak. Benintendi is 12 of his last 26 in the last six games with six extra-base hits, eight runs and five RBIs. His OPS has climbed from .759 to .798 and he’s now third on the team with 28 doubles.
“For a while,” Benintendi said when asked how long he has been waiting for a run like that. “Pretty much all year it seems like. It’s good, but I’ve got to keep doing it.”
Benintendi has hit first, second or third in 77 percent of the games he has started for the Sox since making his debut in 2016. So when manager Alex Cora dropped him down to seventh for a game earlier this month and sixth the last two games, it served as motivation.
“Sure, definitely a little bit,” Benintendi said. “But I didn’t disagree with it at all with the way I was playing. I feel like all the guys on top are getting on base and I’m always hitting with somebody on. It’s nice.”
Cora sees a difference that goes beyond the results.
“The tape tells you a lot. He’s not chasing balls out of the [strike] zone. He’s hitting the ball all over the place,” he said. “There’s balance. He’s been working hard at it.
“He found something that makes him feel comfortable in the batters box. Now the swing decisions are a lot better. He’s been able to go the other way. He’s in a great place right now.”
Benintendi, who cut down on his leg kick in favor of taking a smaller step at the start of his swing, pulled the ball in the second inning, lining a hanging slider from CC Sabathia down the line in right. As Aaron Judge gave chase, the ball stayed inside the Pesky Pole and struck the top of the wall.
It was initially ruled a double before a review gave Benintendi a 310-foot home run, the shortest of his major-league career by 23 feet.
“I’m fine with that,” Benintendi said. “It doesn’t matter how far they go.”
Benintendi later hammered a double to center field in the sixth inning then lined another double, this time to left field, in the seventh. Both were rockets, one 101 miles per hour off the bat and the other 99.
“Now I’m using the whole field and hitting where it’s pitched,” Benintendi said.
The Sox have scored 38 runs on 52 hits in three days against the Yankees. With their starting pitchers working deep into games over the last week, the Sox finally resemble the wrecking ball they were last season.
“We can’t make up eight or nine games in one game; we know it’s going to take some time. But this is a good start,” Benintendi said. “It’s starting to feel like last year, the energy in the dugout and in the clubhouse. It starts with the preparation for the game.”
That game prep has come with a beat. J.D. Martinez hauled a 48-pound, $895 boom box into the clubhouse at the start of this homestand and parked it in the middle of the room for pre-game entertainment.
“It could be that. Could be. We’re having some fun,” Mookie Betts said. “We have a lot of guys rolling now and Benny is at the top of the list. This is more the normal for us. We’re capable of playing like this. We’re putting good at-bats together.”
Martinez grinned and declined comment on his sound system. But he was happy to discuss Benintendi’s surge.
“It’s a long lineup now,” he said. “When more guys are hitting well, it stretches out.”
Now the Sox have Chris Sale on the mound Sunday night with a chance to sweep the Yankees and cut their lead in the division down to seven games. With 56 games remaining, the Sox can keep the wild card in their back pocket for now. Maybe there will be a division race after all.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” Benintendi said before finally dashing out. “Let’s see what happens.”