Michael Chavis played a pivotal role in a game he wasn’t even supposed to be in.
The Boston Red Sox’s top prospect, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, was slated to make his Major League Baseball debut Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. But with the game tied at 5-5 and Jackie Bradley Jr. on first, manager Alex Cora elected to slot Chavis in as a pinch-hitter.
And the move paid off.
The 23-year-old smacked a double to center for the first hit of his MLB career before Andrew Benintendi drove in Bradley with a sacrifice fly, which served as the game-winning run in Boston’s 6-5 win over Tampa Bay.
“That was awesome,” Chavis said of his first hit, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage.
Chavis walked reporters through what was going through his mind when he realized he potentially could be making his debut a bit sooner than anticipated.
“I don’t remember who it was, but they hit a home run and tied up the game.” Chavis said, “So I knew I was going to go in and pinch-hit. I knew (Rays pitcher Jose Alvarado) threw hard … I was just ready for velocity … and got a good pitch to hit and didn’t try to do too much with it.”
Alvarado has been a solid backend reliever for Tampa Bay this season, and Chavis knew the kind of guy he was up against when he stepped into the batter’s box.
“It’s kind of a reassurance that I belong,” he said when asked how it felt to hit against Alvarado.
Manager Alex Cora had high praise for Chavis after the game.
“He put a good swing on it,” he said on NESN’s postgame coverage. “There’s no lack of confidence. … He belongs. We saw that in spring training as far as the offensive upside … first big league at-bat … that was very impressive.”
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Red Sox-Rays game:
— The game ended in wild fashion, with Christian Vazquez picking off Tommy Pham at first base with two on in the ninth inning, with the Sox holding on to a slim, 6-5 lead.
But, was the pick-off play called from the bench?
“I don’t know. I don’t know. We just… whatever,” Cora said with a laugh after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage.
— The five runs scored in the second were the most the Red Sox have scored in a single inning this season.
“We’re feeling good offensively,” Cora said.
— Mitch Moreland left the game in the third inning with what the team is calling back spasms.
The first baseman has been one of Boston’s most dominant players this season, but Cora seemed optimistic Moreland would be just fine, and that he plans to be available for Sunday.
— The win solidified the first time the Sox will come away with a series win this season.
— Benintendi may have been just 1-for-4 at the plate, but he was the team’s biggest offensive contributor.
The outfielder hit a grand slam to open the scoring in the second, and later drove in the game-winning run, accounting for five of Boston’s six runs.