Forget the Avengers, I’m here for the Revengers. After starting the season a dismal 3-8, the Red Sox have been clawing their way back and putting the hurt on the teams who humiliated them in those tough first few weeks of the season. First, they swept the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in three games in their own, weird aquatic creature-filled ballpark. And since April 29, they’re 11-2, the best record in MLB, and have outscored opponents 100-37. The lineup is averaging 7.69 runs per game, another MLB-best. They’ve won each of their last four series, and have taken the season series against both the A’s and Mariners. Oh, and not only are they a .500 team for the first time since March 29, they’re actually three games over .500. In short: a lot of good things are happening.
Mitch Moreland has homered five times since April 30, including three bombs this past week, two of which came in back-to-back games. He leads the team in home runs, and joins Jimmie Foxx, George Scott, and Mo Vaughn as the only Red Sox first baseman to hit at least 12 HR in the team’s first 40 games.
Chris Sale, who started the season in a manner that can only be described as terrifying (in a bad way), has now struck out ten or more batters in three of his last four starts. His ERA, once 21.00 in March, is 0.64 in May. In five starts in April, he struck out a combined 28 batters over 27 innings. In just two starts so far in May, he’s struck out 24 batters in 14 innings. Send Sandy Leon an edible arrangement, because the beast is BACK.
Speaking of great pitching, Eduardo Rodriguez has been nothing short of phenomenal this season. He’s lowered his ERA from 5.47 in April to 0.69 in May. This weekend marked his first 7-inning start of the season, and the Red Sox have given him 29 runs of support in his last two starts, and at least 9 runs of support in each of his last four.
Michael Chavis, who, as of Saturday, has been in the big leagues for three weeks, came into Sunday’s game 0-for-19 after a hot start (6 home runs including a 2-homer game in Chicago). He broke his slump by going 3-for-5 with 5 RBIs, nearly half the Sox runs in their season-series-clinching victory over Seattle. Chavis now has 19 RBIs in his first 20 MLB games, making him third all-time in franchise history in that category; Ted Williams and George Scott are tied for first with 20 RBIs apiece. His home runs are averaging a distance of 429 ft. And after the game, he spent time taking another batting practice, always working on his swing. JD Martinez, one of the most feared hitters in baseball over the past few years, gave him the ultimate compliment: “you watch him… you feel bad for the baseballs.”
And let’s talk about the child prodigy Rafael Devers. This weekend, he recorded three consecutive three-hit games, joining Xander Bogaerts (2014) as the only two Red Sox players 22 or younger to record 3+ hits in three straight games since 1908. His strikeouts are way down, due in large part to the fact that he’s cut down on fly balls. According to Statcast, his first two MLB seasons saw his fly-ball percentage in the low-20s; this season, it’s at 13-percent! Devers is now hitting .336/.408/.456, up from .240/.298/.433 last year. In their last 17 games, the highest OPS’ on the team belong to Mookie, 1.107 and Devers, 1.037.
Brandon Workman has been yet another standout on this team. He’s struck out 25 batters in 18 innings of work over 20 games so far this season, and he’s only allowed two hits and given up 3 runs. Opposing batters are hitting .038 against him, the lowest batting average against any reliever in MLB.
Without going into too much detail, the top of the lineup has been righting their side of the ship as well. Andrew Benintendi homered in back to back games on Thursday and Friday. He also hit his first career grand slam back in April. Last weekend in Chicago, Xander Bogaerts homered in back-to-back games as well, including a grand slam in Sunday’s finale. JD Martinez had a two-homer game yesterday, his first Fenway bombs of the season came as a combo deal. And Mookie Betts, who described his start to the season as “unacceptable,” has finally almost-completely returned to MVP form. Hopefully, they’ll all start catching up to Mitch Moreland soon.
It’s also worth noting that they’re doing all of this without Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, Brian Johnson, Brock Holt, and Dustin Pedroia. Nasty Nate has been on the Injured List since mid-April, and David Price joined him there less than two weeks ago. And yet, in their last 22 games, the Red Sox starting pitching has a combined 3.27 ERA. It’s under 3.00 in their last two weeks.
I always say it’s a long season, but after the start this team had, it’s nice to have some positive things to say. Literally, so many nice things that I didn’t even scratch the surface here. But best of all, it’s so nice to be able to bask in the glow of some excellent baseball once again.
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Photo: Red Sox Twitter