Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora had been stressing the importance of his club putting the ball in play with runners in scoring position, especially at third base, and less than two outs.
It’s a pretty obvious concept, of course, but nevertheless one the Red Sox offense, which has been largely impressive this season, struggled with.
Since May 7, the Red Sox had hit just .074 with a runner on third base and less than two outs, according to NESN’s Jahmai Webster. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier noted the Red Sox had a 30 percent strikeout rate during that span.
Well, that wasn’t the case against the Atlanta Braves in a game that started Wednesday night at Fenway Park and ended early Thursday morning.
Boston used a four-run sixth inning — three of which came with one out — and a two-run eighth inning — both of which came with one out — to claim a 9-5 victory over the visiting Braves. With the win, the Red Sox split the two-game set against Atlanta.
“We did a good job offensively,” Cora said. “There were some things that we haven’t done in a while that we did today. … We got back to our principles as an offense and you saw what happened.
“If we do that on a nightly basis, we can be very dangerous,” he added.
In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts connected on a one-out chopper, which scored Alex Verdugo from third base as the outfielder beat the throw home with a head-first slide. It tied the game 4-all. Bogaerts, according to Speier, was 1-for-6 with four strikeouts and a sac fly when at the plate with a runner on third with fewer than two outs.
Rafael Devers then followed it up with a RBI double off the Green Monster, again which came with one out.
And in the eight, Hunter Renfroe belted a ground rule double with one out to advance Bogaerts to third. Danny Santana then put the ball in play with one-out hit and it scored Bogaerts to give the Red Sox a 8-4 lead.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Braves:
— Devers recorded three RBIs, two hits and two runs in the win. The Red Sox third baseman had two of the biggest hits of the night with a two-run home run and that RBI double in the sixth.
— Verdugo’s base running on the game-tying run in the sixth was exceptional. Verdugo, who had been dealing with a hamstring injury, got a great jump after Bogaerts made contact on a slow chopper, stayed in the way of Austin Riley’s throw from third and perfectly slid to beat the tag from catcher William Contreras.
He got down the line in a hurry and a review by the Braves confirmed the run scored.
“It was a great jump,” Cora said. “Alex gets a good primary lead, good secondary, and a good reaction. Great slide too.”
— Christian Vázquez added three RBIs of his own Wednesday. The catcher recorded a two-RBI single in the sixth to break the game open and then hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth to added some insurance.
— Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta continued his unbeaten start with Wednesday’s win moving him to 6-0 on the season.
Pivetta went six innings on the night before the rain delay. He scattered seven hits with four earned runs. The right-hander, who may not have had his best stuff, still struck out nine while throwing 68 of his 102 pitches for strikes.
Pivetta allowed two runs in the first inning and one in the second before bouncing back. He didn’t allow a runner into scoring position in the third or fourth before striking out the side in the sixth.
“He did a good job,” Cora said. “He found his groove, had some swings and misses, had some strike calls, and gave us a chance to win.”
— The rain delay, which started just after 9 p.m. ET and lasted until midnight, was officially clocked at two hours and 53 minutes.
— The Red Sox will return to Fenway Park on Friday as they will host the Miami Marlins for the first game in a three-game set. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET, and you can watch it on NESN.