Perhaps it was just a matter of timing.
Stephen Drew, who had been 1-for-15 since returning from the disabled list, went 3-for-4 with two home runs, five RBIs and three runs scored as the Red Sox’ offense finally broke through in a 7-3 win over the Orioles on Saturday. It was Drew’s first big effort since returning from a hamstring injury, and it could be the start of something bigger.
Drew hadn’t done anything since returning on July 20, which elevated concerns about the status of the left side of the Red Sox’ infield. But even despite his five-game skid since returning, the veteran shortstop chose to look at things favorably, knowing that better days lied ahead.
“We’re gonna have our ups and downs, and I’ve been feeling really good,” Drew said. “I just haven’t had any results so for tonight to happen like it did, it was good because we needed a win.”
The Red Sox absolutely needed a victory in Baltimore on Saturday. They fell out of first place for the first time since May 27 with Friday’s loss, and their offense has been anemic of late, mainly because they’ve run into some quality pitching. The Sox had to win to not only keep pace with the Rays — who shut out the Yankees, 1-0, on Saturday — but also to try to regain some momentum after losing six of their last nine.
Boston accomplished its mission, and it did so against a Baltimore team that has enjoyed most of the success in the teams’ head-to-head matchups this season.
“That team over there’s great,” Drew said. “We’ve been battling with them all year, so hopefully we come back out tomorrow and play the way we did. We know it’s going be a tough one again so we’ve just got to keep our heads up and keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”
Most of the Red Sox’ starting lineup has been struggling, but the bottom of the order, including Drew, definitely needed a pick-me-up. Jose Iglesias’ offensive production has dropped off significantly, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia continues to strike out at an alarming rate. Drew gave reason to believe that he may have turned a corner, though, as we’ve seen this season that it’s all about timing with him.
“He’s a guy that we’ve come to know in this year that when he’s had some down time — whether it was at the start of the year or after coming back from the hamstring issue — he’s very much a rhythm hitter and he needs regular at-bats to get his timing and that’s hopefully a sign of things to come,” manager John Farrell said.
Drew started the 2013 season on the disabled list because of a concussion, and it took him some time to find a groove at the plate. He really started to heat up in mid- to late June, but he then suffered a hamstring injury while legging out a double on June 28 and missed the following 16 games. Prior to going on the DL, Drew had been hitting .363 (12-for-33) with four doubles, three triples and six runs scored in his nine previous contests.
The Red Sox obviously don’t expect two home run performances to become the norm for Drew, but Saturday’s big day at the plate could be a sign that he’s settling back into that pre-DL groove. It’s also doesn’t hurt that his breakout performance came when the Red Sox needed it most.