BOSTON — The energy is there. The desire is there. The confidence is there.
Now, the wins are coming, too.
The Red Sox, who won four of their final five games before the All-Star break, started the second half on a positive note Friday, rallying from a three-run deficit to defeat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 at Fenway Park. The Red Sox still face a sizable gap in the American League East, but the current stretch has gone a long way toward saving Boston’s season for the time being.
“As we talked about before the game, we had some momentum going into the break,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Friday’s second-half opener. “The energy has been outstanding. That was the case again tonight. … Coming out of the break, to get a win under our belt in this fashion continues to give us a boost.”
The Red Sox trailed 4-1 in the sixth inning, but Xander Bogaerts, who entered the game hitting .103 since June 6, changed the complexion of the contest with a two-run homer to straightaway center field. The blast was Bogaerts’ first extra-base hit since June 13.
“Hopefully this gives him a chance to breathe a little bit,” Farrell said. “It’s the first extra-base hit in a while and hopefully it allows him to see some of the work (pay off) that he’s been doing pregame and the video work and the countless conversations with (hitting coaches Greg Colbrunn and Victor Rodriguez). To see it play out with a timely home run, it should be a boost for him.”
Bogaerts’ home run pulled the Red Sox to within a run. Jonny Gomes catapulted Boston in front later in the inning with a two-run homer of his own.
Stephen Drew set the table for Gomes’ go-ahead homer with a deep drive to right field that landed on the warning track and bounced up into the Red Sox’s bullpen for a ground-rule double. James Shields rebounded to strike out David Ross for the inning’s second out, but left-hander Scott Downs entered the game with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt due up. Farrell countered with Gomes, who not only entered the game with an .832 OPS against southpaws but also has a knack for stepping up in big moments.
“He stays prepared and anticipates the moment, and I think more than anything his swing is built for Fenway Park,” Farrell said. “Even though tonight’s ball goes out to dead center, we’ve seen a number of them go to the pull side. One of the reasons we targeted him prior to last year was the way his swing is built and how it would fit this ballpark. I think in those situations he’s been able to take advantage of both. But more importantly, it’s just how he stays prepared prior to the situation.”
Gomes’ pinch-hit home run — like Bogaerts’ homer — traveled to dead center. Gomes pumped his fist as he rounded first base, knowing full well the importance of every win as the Red Sox enter a critical point in their season.
“Before the break and the first day after the break, our goal hasn’t changed. Our goal is still to win the division and win that last game of the year. Our goal hasn’t changed one bit here,” Gomes said. “Obviously, we understand the date and we understand that we have dug ourselves into a hole a little bit, but we’re not trying to turn the corner, by any means. We’re just trying to win as many games as we can and win individual innings.”
The Red Sox have long had certain winning ingredients. They’re just now coming together in what could be a recipe for second-half success.