Stephen Drew Quickly Erasing Lingering Concerns, Evolving Into Clutch Player for Red Sox

Stephen DrewOK, Red Sox fans. Have you warmed up to Stephen Drew yet?

Drew is quickly erasing the concerns that accompanied him to Boston, which only grew as he battled injuries this season. The Red Sox shortstop connected on a game-winning three-run homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 7-5 victory over the Astros, and he has earned a reputation as one of the club’s most clutch performers during its recent string of comeback success.

Drew now has an eight-game hitting streak after a 2-for-4 effort Wednesday that included the huge, go-ahead blast. He’s hitting .464 with two home runs, seven RBIs, nine walks and six runs in that span, and many of his contributions have come in key moments for the Red Sox.

In addition to Wednesday’s home run, Drew worked an important walk in Boston’s incredible comeback win over the Mariners on Aug. 1, and he delivered the game-winning hit in the Red Sox’ 15-inning, walk-off victory the night prior. Drew also had a two-home run game against the Orioles on July 27 — a week after he returned from a hamstring injury — to help the Red Sox recapture their division lead.

“He was starting to get into the flow of things once he came back and got some at-bats under his belt after the DL stint after the All-Star break,” manager John Farrell said. “To have that kind of bat at shortstop, down the bottom third of the order, not only does it lengthen things out, but he’s swinging with a lot of confidence right now against both lefties and righties.”

Drew’s emergence this season actually started before he went on the DL. Drew had been hitting .363 (12-for-33) with four doubles, three triples and six runs scored in his last nine contests before suffering an injury while legging out a double on June 28, and he swung the bat better than his .067 (1-for-15) average indicated in his first five games back. With so many important contributions recently, though, it’s finally time to starting taking notice and giving credit where it’s due.

Drew’s signing this past offseason was heavily scrutinized because of concerns about his durability, and the elephant in the room, of course, was the polarizing Red Sox tenure of Drew’s brother, J.D. So when the 30-year-old shortstop missed time and struggled at the dish this season, the criticism only grew louder, especially as Jose Iglesias evolved into a fan favorite. Now, Drew looks locked in at the plate, and he’s been a huge part of the Red Sox winning seven of their last nine games.

Drew is striking out less while maintaining the same patient approach. He might never be the focal point of Boston’s offensive attack, but when he’s swinging the bat well, it makes the offense better-rounded and even more capable of coming back at the drop of a hat.

There probably will continue to be Drew skeptics for as long as he’s with Boston. They’ll be harder to find, though, as long as he continues to play up to his capability, which is what we’re starting to see more consistently of late.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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