Red Sox’ Hunter Renfroe hits 100th career home run: ‘He’s in a good place right now,’ Alex Cora says

For what was a slow start to begin his Red Sox career, Hunter Renfroe has been turning it around for the better as of late.

The latest instance of the outfielder’s offensive resurgence popped up in the Sox’ 11-7 win over the Tigers at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

As part of a 3-for-4 evening at the plate, Renfroe ripped an RBI single in the first inning, laced a 108.5 mph ground-rule double in the third inning, and picked up the 100th home run of his big-league career in the fifth inning.

With one out in the bottom half of the fifth, the 29-year-old was matched up against Tigers reliever Buck Farmer, someone he had never faced before Tuesday.

On an 0-1, hanging 83 mph slider down the heart of the plate from Farmer, Renfroe crushed said pitch 362 feet into the second row of Green Monster seats in left field.

Renfroe’s homer gave the Red Sox a 9-3 lead, and as previously mentioned, it marked an important milestone for the Mississippi native.

“Any person that says it doesn’t is lying,” Renfroe said when asked if achieving career milestones is meaningful to him. “Anytime you can get a big milestone — 100th career home run, 200th career home run, 500th RBI — it means a lot. Those are not easily done.

“People that come in the league and stay in the league are the only guys that really get to do that,” he added. “And the guys that just come in and go out, it’s tough to get 100 home runs or 500 RBI or whatever. Any kind of milestone needs to be celebrated in baseball, and I think it’s awesome.”

The ball that Renfroe took out of the yard on Tuesday wound up back on the field. Not knowing how significant that ball was, Tigers left fielder Robbie Grossman threw it back into the stands upon retrieving it.

The fan who got the ball from Grossman could later be seen negotiating with Red Sox security, as the two sides were presumably working out a deal that would net Renfroe his 100th career home run ball in exchange for some signed memorabilia.

Renfroe was asked if he had the ball in his possession, as well as what he plans to do with it.

“I got it,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s the right one or not, but I got a ball. And they said they wrote ‘100 career homers.’ So I don’t know if it’s the right one or not, but we’ll see.”

He also told NESN’s Jahmai Webster that he plans on putting the ball on display in his office at home “for everybody to see.”

With Tuesday’s near-cycle performance in his back pocket, Renfroe has gotten his month of May off to a tremendous start. Through three games this month, the Mississippi State product is 6-for-12 (.500) with two homers, five RBI, and four runs scored.

His numbers on the season as a whole (.222/.275/.389) still might not look that impressive, but this recent turnaround is certainly an encouraging development for the Red Sox.

“He’s swinging the bat well,” Sox manager Alex Cora said Tuesday night. “It started in Texas, right? He hits the home run… he got two hits the opposite way, he put the ball in play. And today, he did the same thing. Even the out was a good swing going opposite field. So he’s in a good place right now. He looks like he’s having confidence, he’s seeing the ball better, and it seems like good things are going to happen.”

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez enjoys multi-homer game against Rangers even while dealing with migraine symptoms: ‘He’s on a mission,’ Alex Cora says

J.D. Martinez really wasn’t supposed to be in the Red Sox’ starting lineup for their game against the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Friday night.

After the team arrived in Arlington in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, Martinez’s head did not hit the pillow of his hotel room bed until about 4 a.m. local time.

Shortly after falling asleep, the 33-year-old awoke four hours later to what he described as “a crazy migraine” that prevented him from going back to bed.

“It’s some muscle or something that tightens up,” he said. “I don’t know why it happens, but it just tightens up and then I get this crazy migraine.”

Even while dealing with the migraine and the neck pain that came along with it, Martinez — with the help of the team’s athletic trainers — started at designated hitter for the Red Sox on Thursday and made it to the eighth inning before more symptoms arose.

“Right before my third at-bat, I was in the cage swinging, getting loose, and it just hit me,” Martinez recalled on Friday. “I was feeling terrible. Everything was so bright… It got to the point where I felt a little dizzy.”

Martinez wound up being pinch-hit for by Christian Arroyo in the eighth inning of Thursday’s loss and was on track to get a day off on Friday. But he started to feel better later on after getting some more work done on his neck, which led to him negotiating with Red Sox manager Alex Cora in order to be in the lineup come game time on Friday.

“I felt a lot better,” Martinez said. “So when I was leaving, Alex was just like, ‘Hey, I’m going to give you tomorrow.’ I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. I’ll be fine.’ He was like, ‘No, take a day.’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m in. I’ll be fine. I’ll let you know tomorrow if anything.'”

Martinez woke up Friday morning still experiencing some discomfort, and after receiving more treatment from trainers, he made sure to let Cora know he was good to go.

“In that situation, it’s either you feel OK or you don’t,” Cora said in regards to Martinez. “Physically, he doesn’t need [a day off], so you got to trust him. He came into the office, he told me last night he should be OK. This morning, he texted me right away, ‘I’m good to go.’ And he was good to go.”

The Red Sox benefitted from having Martinez in their lineup on Friday, and the trust between player and manager was a catalyst for that.

“Alex always has a good feel with all that stuff,” said Martinez. “He knows I want to be in there everyday as much as I can.”

In his 25th start of the season on Friday, the Sox slugger broke out of a 2-for-14 rut by going 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs, four RBI, and two runs scored, marking his second multi-homer game of the season already as part of a 6-1 win over the Rangers.

On the 2021 campaign as a whole, Martinez is now slashing an impressive .351/.430/.745 with a league-leading nine home runs and 25 RBI through his first 107 plate appearances of the year.

The fact that Martinez is off to this hot a start is certainly encouraging after the down season he had in 2020, but Cora was hesitant to pin all those struggles last year on the lack of access to video alone.

“I think it’s more about his routine, what he can do,” said Cora. “This is a guy that it’s an all-day process with his swing. He feels better physically. He’s in a better place with his mechanics… Now, he’s in a good place, he’s doing a great job. It’s not only on the field what he’s doing, it’s in the cage, talking to players.”

Cora also implied that Martinez is out to prove that his 2020 was a fluke and he is still indeed one of the best hitters in baseball. One month into the season, and Martinez is doing just that.

“He’s on a mission,” Cora said. “He’s on a mission.”

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora predicted Xander Bogaerts would hit first home run of season Tuesday night: ‘You talking about me hitting a home run? I don’t have a home run at all’

Xander Bogaerts’ first home run of the season proved to be the difference maker in the Red Sox’ 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

With no outs and two runners on in the bottom half of the fourth, Bogaerts came to the plate for a second time after already doubling in his first at-bat against tough left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu two innings prior.

That double was actually more of a gift than anything considering the way it was played by Blue Jays left field Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but Bogaerts made sure to make his second hit of the night count.

On a 1-2, 91 mph slider from Ryu that was on the inner half of the plate, the 28-year-old was able to get his hands in front of the ball and wound up depositing said pitch 408 feet into the second row of Green Monster seats in left-center field. Per Baseball Savant, the ball left Bogaerts’ bat at a blistering 102.1 mph.

Bogaerts’ three-run blast put the Sox up 3-1 and would prove to be instrumental in the club’s 4-2 win over Toronto to improve to 12-6 on the young season.

“They needed a shutdown inning. They didn’t get it,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in regards to the impact of Bogaerts’ homer. “It was a good swing. That was a good effort against a good pitcher. That guy, he’s very tough. He’s got a good breaking ball, a good changeup. But we hung in there with him and we were able to score some runs.”

The fact that Bogaerts was able to hit a home run on a pitch that was relatively up and in was impressive. There’s no doubt about that. With that being said, though, that ability is something the three-time Silver Slugger Award winner has regularly put on display over the years. Just ask his longtime teammate — and Tuesday’s starter — Eduardo Rodriguez.

“I’ve been here, what? Like six seasons, I think. And I’ve been seeing him hitting balls like nobody can hit it,” Rodriguez said of the Aruban-born shortstop. “I know he’s a really special guy. I can’t even explain to you how good he is. I’ve been watching him too much. Hitting balls out of the ballpark, both sides of the field, middle of the field. I know every time he steps up to the plate something good is going to happen. That’s how special he is.

“I love the way he plays all the time, the way he goes up there,” added Rodriguez. “After he hit that homer, he comes to me and says, ‘I got you. Go out there now and do your thing.’ That’s something that I really appreciate from him every time I’m pitching and he’s doing things like that.”

Rodriguez said he expects 35 home runs out of Bogaerts this season, but Bogaerts himself was just happy to get the first one out of the way, which is something Cora actually foresaw moments before it happened in the bottom of the fourth on Tuesday.

“I think that whole inning, Alex Cora predicted, to be honest with you,” Bogaerts recalled during his postgame media availability. “I remember him saying that the guy’s going to get a hit, J.D. [Martinez] is going to get a hit, and I’m going to hit a two-run homer. So he kind of predicted that whole inning to be honest. You guys got to see what’s up with AC and those predictions with his mind and stuff like that.

“I was like, ‘You talking about me hitting a home run? I don’t have a home run at all,'” joked Bogaerts. “And he’s talking about me hitting a homer.”

Following a 2-for-4 showing at the plate with two extra-base hits on Tuesday, Bogaerts is now slashing a scorching .393/.439/.557 to go along with that one homer and seven RBI through his first 16 games of the year.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox Rookie Bobby Dalbec Has Call of Duty To Thank for Tight Relationship With J.D. Martinez

J.D. Martinez is leaning towards not opting out of his current contract and remaining with the Red Sox for the 2021 season. The 33-year-old slugger made that much clear when speaking to reporters via Zoom on Friday.

While alluding to the notion that he will remain with the Sox next year, Martinez also had some kind words for a teammate who could emerge as a legitimate major-league slugger himself. That teammate’s name? Bobby Dalbec.

“He’s definitely got some tools,” Martinez said of the 25-year-old rookie. “He’s a really good kid, always asking questions, very humble, very quiet. He’s got a lot of power. I could see him being an impact [bat] in this lineup for the future, definitely sticking around.”

After making his big-league debut at the end of August, Dalbec came into Saturday with a .274/.361/.603 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 14 RBI through 21 games and 83 plate appearances thus far.

In those 83 plate appearances, the University of Arizona product has struck out 43.4% of the time, which according to FanGraphs is the highest rate among American League rookies who have accrued at least 80 trips to the plate. Getting that strikeout rate down is something Dalbec will need to improve upon as he prepares for his first full major-league season, and Martinez knows that.

“He’s going to have to make adjustments,” Martinez added. “I know he is, just because that’s the league. Once this league makes adjustments on you, that’s the biggest test, if the hitter can make the adjustment back. That’s when you find out, to me personally, if guys can stick around in the big leagues or not.”

Despite punching out at a rather high clip, Dalbec still manages to get on base frequently, as his walk rate (10.8%) and on-base percentage (.361) ranks fifth among AL rookies with 80 or more PAs this season.

“Talent-wise, I don’t see any reason why [Dalbec] can’t be an impact bat,” said Martinez. “You see what he’s been able to do in a short period of time.”

In his brief stint with Boston since his promotion on August 30, Dalbec has made sure to absorb as much useful information from veterans like Martinez, which is something he started doing while at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2019.

“We always talk,” Martinez said in regards to his relationship with Dalbec. “We got close because we used to play Call of Duty together. We used to play Zombies on Call of Duty all the time… and he’d always ask me questions while we played video games. Once he came up here, or even when he was in Triple-A, he would text me about stuff he was struggling with, certain pitchers, certain pitch types, he would talk to me. Up here, it’s been kind of the same thing. He comes to me about pitchers all the time and what I think about certain moves, what I think about certain ideas.”

If Martinez does indeed remain with the Red Sox going into the 2021 campaign, how he interacts with and/or mentors Dalbec certainly could be something to keep an eye on as soon as spring training begins in February.

Former Red Sox Star Mookie Betts Goes Deep Three Times for Dodgers, Becomes Third Player in Major-League History With Six Career Three-Homer Games

Hours after the Red Sox suffered their most embarrassing loss of the season to this point, Mookie Betts put together his best offensive outing for the Dodgers out in Los Angeles.

Facing off against the Padres at Chavez Ravine Thursday night, the former Sox star belted three home runs as part of a four-hit, five-RBI performance in an eventual 11-2 win for his side.

In crushing three homers, which came in the second, fourth, and fifth innings, Betts became just the third player in major-league history with SIX career three-home run games under his belt. The other two? Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa.

He also became the first player to hit three home runs within a game’s first five innings on three separate occasions.

At just 27 years old, Betts has already compiled 17 career multi-homer games in his relatively young career, with Thursday’s showing being his first as a member of the Dodgers.

“It’s obviously a great feeling to know you can go up and just hit and not worry about the rest of it,” Betts said during his postgame media availability. “These times don’t happen very often, so you just enjoy it while it’s here.”

It has been a little more than six months since the Red Sox traded Betts to Los Angeles and a little more than three weeks since the four-time All-Star inked a record-setting 12-year, $365 million extension with his new club to remain in southern California for the foreseeable future.

They say time heals all wounds, but as long as Betts continues to dazzle with the Dodgers, I do not think Red Sox fans are going to have an easy time of things accepting this new reality, especially when their team will likely finish the year with one of the worst records in the American League.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Crushing First Home Run of Season With New Team: ‘To Finally Be Able to Help Out and Get a Couple Runs for Us, It’s Huge’

Going into Wednesday night, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was without a home run or RBI through his first nine games and 30 plate appearances with his new team.

That all changed against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth inning of an eventual 5-0 win for Boston at Tropicana Field to close out a seven-game road trip.

After striking out on eight pitches in his first at-bat against the Rays starter, Verdugo come to the plate for a second time with two outs and a runner on first following a Michael Chavis single.

On the second pitch he saw in his second at-bat against Yarbrough, which was nearly identical to the first’s location, the 24-year-old unloaded on an 0-1, 71 mph curveball at the bottom of the zone and deposited it 352 feet to the right field seats for his first home run of 2020 and his first in a Red Sox uniform. It also gave his side an early two-run lead.

“It felt amazing, man,” Verdugo said of his homer during his postgame media availability. “It’s pretty obvious a lot of us are going through it right now trying to find our swings. There’s a lot of new things in baseball, not being able to see the videos until after the games and all that. Usually, the in-game adjustments have been hard. It felt really good to finally be able to stay on one, to stay through it and get one out.”

Per Statcast, Verdugo’s two-run blast had an Expected Batting Average (xBA) of .220, so it wasn’t exactly barreled, per se, but it was still encouraging to see him make relatively hard contact nonetheless. His manager, Ron Roenicke felt that way as well.

“He was pretty happy, I’ll tell you that, when he came to the dugout,” said the Sox skipper. “It was huge. At the time, it was huge. I thought Yarbrough was throwing the ball fantastic and the next thing you know, we’ve got two runs on the board. The players know it, they feel what’s going on. To get that lead, I’m sure Dugie felt pretty good about that.”

Indeed, Verdugo did feel pretty good about getting his first one out of here since coming over from the Dodgers in February. More importantly, he was happy it contributed to a victory.

“I think the biggest thing for me was just to help the team out,” Verdugo said. “It was a tie game, so just to get up there and give us a 2-0 lead, give the pitcher and everybody a little breath. Like, ‘Hey, alright, we’ve got some room to work.’ That was my biggest part. I came here to contribute. I’ve played the game hard and I want to contribute in everything that I do. To finally be able to help out and get a couple runs for us, it’s huge.”

Following Wednesday’s impressive performance, Verdugo is showing why he should be starting more against left-handed starters, especially when the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. are mired in slumps.

While with Los Angeles for parts of the previous three seasons, the left-handed hitting Arizona native slashed .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, earning the reputation of being a “reverse splits” guy.

Thus far with the Red Sox, Verdugo now owns an OPS of 1.009 through his first 16 plate appearances against southpaws this year, again proving that he should be playing more. Even still, the outfielder understands that finding playing time for everyone is no easy task.

“I always mess around with that,” Verdugo said with a smile. “When I’m not in there against a lefty, I’m like, ‘Hey, Ron, just so you know, man, I can hit ‘em.’ I think he knows it, too. I think he also knows when players are pressing. He’s doing his job, he’s doing what he has to do. I take a lot of pride against lefties.”

Also, it’s probably about time Verdugo moves up in the lineup, too. Just a thought.

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Babe Ruth Hits First Career Home Run Against Future Team

On this day in 1915, a 20-year-old Babe Ruth embarked on his journey to becoming one of the most notorious home run hitters of all time in Upper Manhattan, New York City.

Then a member of the Boston Red Sox, Ruth was slated to make his third pitching start and fourth overall appearances of the 1915 campaign against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. The Sox were 7-6 on the morning of that Thursday afternoon contest, while the Yankees had gotten off to a 10-5 start.

At that point in time, Ruth had yet to become a full-time player. In other words, all of his at-bats with Boston to that point had either come as a pitcher or pinch-hitter. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the wisest decision.

Anyway, Ruth got the starting nod from manager Bill Carrigan and opposed Yankees right-hander Jack Warhop on that faithful Thursday in front of 5,000 or so fans at the Polo Grounds.

Having tossed two scoreless innings to start things out, Ruth came to the plate for his first at-bat of the day against Warhop, who had also worked the first two innings without giving up a run, in the top half of the third.

Per The Boston Globe, “Ruth, who impressed the onlookers as being a hitter of the first rank, swatted a low ball into the upper tier of the right-field grandstand and trotted about the bases to slow music.”

The Babe’s first career home run gave his side an early one-run advantage in what would eventually turn out to be a 4-3 loss in 13 innings.

Ruth finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate with that one homer. Pitching wise, the left-hander’s final line looked like this:

12.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 3 Ks. In total, Ruth faced 50 hitters and presumably finished the two-hour-and-35-minute contest with a very high pitch count.

The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, the King of Crash. Whatever you want to call him, Ruth would go on to mash 713 more home runs over the course of an illustrious 22-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Boston Braves.

Exactly three years after hitting his first big league home run, Ruth made his first career start at first base and batted out of the six-hole in another game against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, marking the first time he had appeared in a game at a position outside of pitcher or pinch-hitter.

 

That Time Manny Ramirez Hit Nearly 1,000 Feet of Home Runs in One Night at Fenway Park

Where were you on the evening of June 23rd, 2001? Personally, I was less than two months away from turning three years old, so I was probably sleeping or doing something else a toddler would do.

I ask because on that date, the Red Sox were hosting the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, and their starting lineup featured Jose Offerman, Chris Stynes, Trot Nixon, Manny Ramirez, Dante Bichette, Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Lansing, Doug Mirabelli, and Darren Lewis. A real throwback.

Despite ultimately falling to Toronto by a final score of 9-6 on that Saturday night, two of those six Boston runs came on two individual swings of the bat from Manny Ramirez.

In the bottom half of the first inning, the 29-year-old slugger crushed a 1-1 offspeed pitch from Blue Jays starter Chris Michalak deep to left-center field that wound up deflecting off a Fleet Bank sign. Statcast did not exist at this time, but per the NESN broadcast, the ball traveled an estimated 463 feet.

Fast forward to the third, and Ramirez was at it again against Michalak, this time absolutely demolishing a 1-0 pitch from the left-hander and sending it to the top of the leftmost light tower way above the Green Monster.

“How in the world are they going to measure how far this thing has gone?” said NESN’s Jerry Remy.

Had that light tower not been there, that ball was surely headed for the Mass Pike. But, since there was no real official landing spot with the deflection and all, the mammoth shot was estimated to have traveled 501 feet, one foot short of Ted Williams’ 1946 mark (the red seat).

85. Manny Ramirez's 501 foot Home Run | Find this plaque at … | Flickr

All in all, those two big flies traveled an estimated total distance of about 964 feet. Not too shabby in what was the fourth of five multi-homer contests for Ramirez in his inaugural season with the Red Sox 19 years ago.

In that first year with Boston, Ramirez, who signed an eight-year, $160 million deal as a free agent the previous December, would go on to finish ninth in American League MVP voting while winning his fourth Silver Slugger award after slashing .306/.405/.609 with 41 home runs and 125 RBI over 142 games played.

Christian Vazquez Crushes Red Sox’ 239th Home Run of 2019 to Set New Single-Season Franchise Record

Christian Vazquez made quite a bit of history on Wednesday night, setting the Red Sox’ record for home runs in a single season with his 23rd big fly of the year.

That 427-foot, two-run shot coming off of Rangers left-hander Kolby Allard on Wednesday marked the 239th homer hit by the Red Sox in 2019, surpassing the club’s previous record of 238 total home runs, which was set back in 2003.

Subsequently, Vazquez was removed from this contest in the fourth due to tightness in his left hamstring, which is believed to have popped up when the backstop went from first to third on a Mitch Moreland single in the top half of the second.

Per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, taking Vazquez out for Sandy Leon was more precautionary than anything, and he was not going to catch on Thursday regardless.

As it also turns out, Chris Owings added on to the Red Sox history as well on Wednesday, as his fourth inning strikeout at the hands of Rangers right-hander Luke Farrell marked Boston’s 1,338th punchout of the year to surpass the 2014 record of 1,337 K’s.

Luke is the son of former Sox manager John Farrell.