The Boston Red Sox are 3-0 in the Christian Vazquez era.
OK, maybe the 23-year-old catcher isn’t directly responsible for the Red Sox’s three-game winning streak, especially since he went hitless Wednesday and didn’t play Thursday. But Vazquez, who was called up when A.J. Pierzynski was designated for assignment, sure had his fingerprints all over Friday’s 8-3 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Vazquez started his big night with his first major league hit — a third-inning single into left-center field. The knock set the stage for Brock Holt’s RBI triple to the right-center field wall, which gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead that set the tempo for Boston’s entire night offensively.
The Red Sox’s offense — an anemic unit for much of the season — produced 12 hits. Seven of those hits went for extra bases, including two doubles off the bat of Vazquez, whose offensive approach improved drastically over the last year-plus at the minor league level. By the looks of it, a big league jump isn’t stunting that growth.
“I think you look at the way his swing is built. He uses the big part of the field,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “The development that he’s realized through last year and this year has been a product of that. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. (He has) surprising line drive power. He puts himself into a position to cover the ball away, particularly.”
Vazquez’s first double was an opposite-field shot over the head of right fielder L.J. Hoes in the fourth inning. It bounced up into the seats and knocked in Stephen Drew, who tripled into the right-center field gap with two outs.
Vazquez’s second two-bagger of the game helped the Red Sox seize total control of the contest in the sixth inning. The Astros opted to intentionally walk Drew with first base open — something that certainly didn’t work out for the Chicago White Sox on Thursday — and Vazquez responded with a line drive down the right field line. It plated Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr. — each of whom had two hits in the win — to give Boston a 5-1 lead.
The Red Sox grabbed an 8-1 lead when David Ortiz added a bases-clearing double three batters later.
“Very excited,” Vazquez said smiling after the game. “First hit in the major leagues. It’s an honor to be here and win the game — that’s important.”
Winning suddenly is becoming more common for these Red Sox, who improved to nine games below .500 (42-51) with Friday’s victory. One logical explanation for Boston’s sudden display of life is the infusion of energy provided by Vazquez and other young players, like Bradley, Brock Holt and Mookie Betts.
“Talent more than youth,” Farrell said in response to that theory. “They’re young guys that are talented. That’s going to be a successful combination. Sure, there’s going to be some getting established here at this level. But they’re talented guys and they’re playing to their capabilities.”
There’s a new look and feel to the Red Sox with two games left before the All-Star break. They still have a lot of ground to make up in the American League playoff race, but the newcomers are making an impact.
Friday marked Vazquez’s official arrival.