Yoenis Cespedes is adding some swagger to the Boston Red Sox’s offense.
Cespedes crushed his second clutch home run in as many games Tuesday to propel the Red Sox to a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. As the Red Sox continue to scratch and claw for runs, Cespedes’ heroics stand as proof that Boston significantly changed the complexion of its lineup by dealing for the slugger before the July 31 Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline.
“He comes to us with — even though it’s a two-plus-year major league track record — (the reputation of being) a middle-of-the-order bat,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Tuesday’s win. “It gives us a certain presence in the middle of the order, and a much-needed one. And he’s shown on all sides of the baseball that he’s a complete player. Having that ability to one swing of the bat change the game is important for us.”
Cespedes’ first home run in a Red Sox uniform was a big one, as he ripped a three-run shot off Los Angeles Angels reliever Joe Smith in the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale in Anaheim to lift Boston to a 3-1 victory. His second home run was even more impressive, as Cespedes launched Jonathan Broxton’s 1-0 offering in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game to about a mile beyond the center field fence.
Cespedes’ home run off Broxton was especially boss-like because it followed some 95 mph chin music. Broxton buzzed Cespedes up and in with his first pitch of the at-bat, only to see his second pitch land an estimated 433 feet away. Cespedes’ home run off Broxton was Boston’s sixth-longest of 2014, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, and it certainly was one of the most emphatic.
“A lot of times pitchers think that when you get a pitch thrown high and tight on you like that you’re going to back off and get a little flustered,” Cespedes said. “But that’s not how I am. I was able to focus myself even more after that pitch and was able to get a good pitch to hit.”
“At field level, you’re always looking at ways to respond to certain things,” Farrell added. “And I’m not saying that the pitch was intentional, he threw the ball up and in on him. But he’s looking out over the plate and gets one, squares it up and it’s the difference in this one tonight.”
Cespedes is hitting .263 in nine games since being acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. He has four extra-base hits, seven RBIs and seven runs scored. The numbers are good, though not eye-popping, but his presence goes beyond the box score.
Suddenly, the Red Sox — a team starved for timely hits all season — have a dynamic power threat alongside David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. It should bode well for 2015, when the Red Sox will be able to deploy Cespedes for an entire season.
“This lineup has the potential to have it all,” Cespedes said. “It’s got speed, it’s got power, it’s got hittability. If everybody’s healthy, I think we got a really good chance of doing good things.”
Cespedes already is doing good things. He’s also doing them with some flair.