Welcome to Boston, Yairo Munoz.
The Red Sox utility player combined for six hits in two seven-inning games Friday as Boston split its doubleheader with the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. The Red Sox fell 8-7 in Game 1 before claiming a 3-2 win in Game 2.
The 25-year-old Munoz admitted he had never had six hits in a game, or a day rather, but expressed that he was excited to see his hard work pay off. The Red Sox called up Munoz from their Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket earlier this week.
“Yeah, I mean it was extremely exciting,” Munoz told reporters through a translator after Boston’s Game 2 win. “When I went down there (to Pawtucket) I never put my head down, I kept working. I worked harder every day I was there, continued to improve and get better. But yeah, when that phone call came the first thing I did was call my mom and I told my mom, ‘Mom, I’m going back. I’m going back to the big leagues. They called me.’ So yeah, it was extremely exciting.”
Munoz played well for the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training, batting .375 in 16 plate appearances, but St. Louis released him as he recovered from a hamstring injury. Munoz deflected when asked for the details of the situation but instead expressed self-confidence and the hope he’ll catch on in Boston.
“Yeah, I mean I know I have a bright future ahead of me. What happened it’s in the past, I don’t look back on it. It was what it was,” he said. “But I’m here, I’m present. I’m here to help the team and I’m looking forward to my future. I know that I’m young. I have a bright future if I continue to work hard, so I’m excited where I am right now.”
Munoz noted that while he has played the majority of his professional innings at shortstop, he’s actually most comfortable at second and third base. Manager Ron Roenicke said Munoz can play a few outfield positions, too.
“Well, if he swings the bat like he is, you’ll see him a lot. He plays left and right, he plays all the infield positions. If he swings the bat like this, it’s going to be fun to watch him pretty much every day,” Roenicke told reporters with a smile. “So, we’ll see what happens. But like I said, to have somebody just on fire is pretty cool to see.”
Munoz impressed pitcher Matt Barnes, as well.
“I don’t know if he’s ever going to get out again,” Barnes told Guerin Austin on NESN’s postgame coverage. “He was unbelievable. He made some nice plays, heck of an arm. A lot of fun to watch him play.”
Here’s some other notes from Friday’s game:
— It was a bit strange to see the Red Sox as the visiting team during Game 2, and while Roenicke admitted it took some time to get adjusted to, he did say the team got used to it.
“Well, it was a little strange to start the game and then after that it didn’t seem any different,” Roenicke said. “But it was weird when (Alex Verdugo) led off the game, that was strange.”
— Barnes came out to throw the seventh and final inning, facing just three batters as the Red Sox grasped tightly onto a 3-2 lead. His production was certainly welcomed in the Boston bullpen, especially following Robinson Leyer’s sixth inning (two hits, two walks on 38 pitches).
Barnes, though, noted how he continues to feel comfortable in Boston’s closer role.
“Yeah, I’m feeling really good,” he told Austin. “I think one of the harder parts of the beginning of the season season was our body was still kind of in spring training mode essentially in terms of physically preparing for the game. Now that we’ve had five, six, seven weeks in the season, our body recovers better. Have a better feel for everything, and guys are throwing the ball better.
— Right-hander Chris Mazza had arguably the best game of his 2020 campaign as he got the start. Mazza threw a season-best four complete innings while scattering three hits with one earned run and two strikes.
It was a strong bounce back for Mazza, who had allowed three runs on six hits in his last start after four runs on eight hits the game prior. He said he just wants to prove he can compete on this level.
“Just kind of that resilience mentality,” Mazza told reporters postgame. “I know first outing went really well, second outing against the Yankees kind of little bit unlucky — they didn’t have a whole lot of hard contact — but just getting back up there and trying to prove I belong up here. And try to get our team in the best situation to win a ballgame.”
— Roenicke said that Ryan Weber will get the start for the Red Sox on Saturday as they return to Fenway to host the Blue Jays for the third game of their five-game series.
Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images