Marwin Gonzalez has struggled of late, but he played a big role for the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The utility player laid down a bunt with two strikes that moved the runners to second and third in the eighth inning in a 7-7 game. Alex Verdugo then hit a three-run home run and Boston ultimately won 10-8 against the Atlanta Braves.
Gonzalez went down 0-2 in the count on two failed bunt attempts, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him go for it with two strikes on him. Come to find out, that was Gonzalez’s call all along.
“I honestly feel like Marwin bunting on his own with two strikes was a huge play for us,” Cora said over Zoom. “We can talk about big swings and (Rafael Devers) hitting a home run, and Hunter (Renfroe) hitting a home run, but we wanted Marwin to bunt on the first two pitches, he fouled them off, and then said, ‘OK, I’m gonna get it done.’ That’s what it’s all about. You could be hitting .180 and not be producing offensively, but when you call a bunt to do the job there … he’s a good hitter. …”
So, Cora didn’t tell Gonzalez to bunt after all?
“With two strikes I did not,” Cora said. “He decided to do it. Understandably so. That’s what ballplayers do, and Marwin is a great ballplayer, he does a lot of good things. Right now, offensively, it’s not working for him. But the fact that he sacrificed himself for this team, it means a lot to us.”
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s Red Sox-Braves game:
— Eduardo Rodriguez’s slump continued Tuesday night.
The lefty did amass eight strikeouts, but lasted just four innings in his third straight no-decision. Rodriguez has not won a game since May 7 after rattling off five consecutive victories. Cora doesn’t really know why Rodriguez is unable to finish games the way he did in 2019.
“Right now, I don’t know, honestly” Cora said. “I think, stuff-wise, he’s good, the changeup was good, velocity was good, elevated fastball was good. He wasn’t able to finish them off in that spot. He needs to be more aggressive in that situation with the ninth hitter there. … It wasn’t a good one.”
— For Rodriguez, he just seems to be stuck in a vicious cycle.
“It’s been tough the last month and a half,” he said. “It’s go out there, give up runs and go back and forth. … I don’t feel good at all because I went four innings. I’d prefer to go seven innings with no strikeouts.”
— Rafael Devers amassed his 500th hit in a big way.
The third baseman blasted a three-run shot to open up the scoring in the first inning. Devers joined some pretty elite company that had 500 hits before turning 25.
— Verdugo’s home run ended up being the difference-maker in the game, and he knew it had a chance once he hit it.
“Off the bat I knew I hit it well,” Verdugo said. “The ball just kind of kept carrying. Was fortunate enough to get it over the fence.”