CHICAGO — Just two weeks ago, the Red Sox were trending in the wrong direction. After getting swept at home by the White Sox on May 8, Boston was 10-19, sat in last place in the American League East and ranked towards the bottom in every offensive statistical category.
But then a switch was flipped.
The Red Sox’s offensive numbers skyrocketed, their discipline at the plate improved and the wins came along. That continued in a big way in their 16-3 blowout win against the White Sox on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field to extend their win streak to a season-high six games.
“Coming into this season, we knew we were going to hit,” said manager Alex Cora, whose club is now 20-22 and 9 1/2 games back in the AL East. “Now, you look at the numbers and we’re probably a top-three offense in the league. We’re controlling the zone and now doing damage in the zone, which is the fun part.”
The Red Sox immediately knew it was going to be a great night when Kike Hernandez belted Dylan Cease’s first pitch of the game for a leadoff home run.
“I just saw it like I was going to seize the opportunity to hit the first pitch of the game,” Hernández said. “There’s probably not a better outcome to start a game than that.”
“That was impressive, relentlessly,” Cora said. “They didn’t give at-bats away and they kept grinding.”
JD Martinez went 4-for-5 with three runs scored to raise his average from .349 to an AL-best .366. His continued dominance of him at the plate has given the Red Sox a reliable bat in their lineup.
Over his last 10 games, the Red Sox’s designated hitter is batting .487 (19-for-39) with two homers and 10 runs scored.
“He’s very special,” Cora said. “He’s been really good for a long time, and this season, he’s been consistent the whole time.”
Entering Tuesday, Martinez, Devers and Xander Bogaerts have been consistent forces in Boston’s lineup. They were the only three Red Sox players with an average over .300 on the season. But those 16 runs showed the club’s capability to have other players contribute with runs.
“There’s more guys to our lineup than the three-headed monster,” Hernandez said. “They can’t do it by themselves. We have a really good supporting cast and [we are] all capable of doing damage. It’s up to us, not those three, to make things happen. We are all doing a better job.”
All nine hitters in the starting lineup contributed to the effort with a hit, and the only one who didn’t notch an RBI was Bogaerts.
That’s the type of production that Boston continues to see from all its hitters, which has led to an uptick in offensive numbers. In the Red Sox’s past 13 games, they have 95 runs — tied for the same total in the team’s first 29 games — and are batting .285. This is way up from their .228 average from April 8-May 8.
Boston is now tied for the fourth-highest batting average in the Majors (.251).
“We understand that there’s 162 games,” Cora said. “We were working very hard to get to the next step.”
Also on May 8, their big offseason signing, Story, had no home runs and was batting .194, while Hernández was struggling atop the order.
Now, both batters are swinging the bat much better, especially Story. With his home run in the first inning, the 29-year-old shortstop has gone deep seven times over his last seven games and has 16 RBIs over his last five.
“He’s been working so hard at it since Day 1,” Cora said. “He’s done an amazing job doing damage in the zone.”
Story’s start to the 2022 season was disappointing. But since his recent surge from him, the Red Sox’s offense has started to click. Since May 10, they have the most runs scored per game (7.31) and have shown great awareness at the plate with their walk numbers up and strikeout percentage down.
The biggest difference in the offensive numbers:
“Trevor Story,” Hernandez said.