Red Sox Notes: Travis Shaw Helps Boston Respond After Players-Only Meeting

'The biggest thing to come from is just we want to have boys energized'

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It wasn’t pretty, but as Red Sox manager Alex Cora often likes to put it, it was a big league win.

It was one Boston desperately needed as it continues to play messy baseball, lose games and somehow remain in striking distance of the second-place New York Yankees in the American League East standings.

Knowing they needed to take action, and fast, reliever Garrett Whitlock revealed in his postgame interview with NESN that Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale and J.D. Martinez called a players-only meeting before the series finale against the Texas Rangers.

The message was heard, leading to a walk-off 8-4 win in the 11th inning.

“Energy, that’s what they could see,” Alex Verdugo said of the team’s takeaway from the meeting. “Obviously the players, we had a little player meeting but we’re gonna keep that in house for the most part, but I think the biggest thing to come from is just we want to have boys energized. That’s it.”

The call was answered even after Boston lost a two-run advantage in the ninth inning. But the game-ending grand slam came from Travis Shaw, who has been on the outside looking in of the Red Sox’s recent regression.

“Anytime you can win a series it’s starting off on the right foot,” Shaw said. “We kind of turn the page after New York and this is a good start, hopefully continue to hear this week against Minnesota.”

The newcomer’s play very well could help Boston turn things around. The meeting shows the desire is there, and Monday’s response flashed a glimpse of the first-half Red Sox that never could be counted out.

After all, the Red Sox gave Shaw another chance in bringing him back to Boston to play first base and work up a count after he was designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers.

It only would be fitting if this ended up getting Boston on a run that puts it back in favorable standing.

Here are some other notes from Monday’s Red Sox-Rangers game:

— Speaking of a turnaround, the Red Sox have stayed within two games of the second-place Yankees and are 6 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and. They also benefit from an easy schedule the next few weeks, so the time really is now.

— Garrett Whitlock was clutch in extended relief, entering the game with two runners in scoring position in the ninth. Matt Barnes had just given up a game-tying run to the Rangers, but Whitlock got them out of the jam, allowing just one hit in 2 2/3 innings of work.

It earned him praise from his teammates and manager after the game, with Verdugo going as far as calling him a Rookie of the Year candidate.

“What he did out there, it was impressive. Very impressive,” Verdugo said. “Playing behind him, he’s been doing this all year. I don’t think he gets talked about enough from MLB or people like that. He’s having an unbelievable season. Definitely could be Rookie of the Year.”

— Rafael Devers made a great hustle play early on worth watching, helping the Red Sox force two Rangers players into pickles. And to make up for a fielding error that allowed Texas to creep in on their lead, he tied things back up in the 10th, coming just a few feet shy of hitting the walk-off himself.

Pitcher Nate Eovaldi, amid a scoreless seven inning start with seven strikeouts, found time to pick his teammate up mid game, offering Devers some encouragement.

“I just wanted him to know that I got his back. I’ll pick him up right there, you know, there’s still plenty of game left to play.”

— Up next Boston hosts the Minnesota Twins in a three-game homestand before a three-game series in Cleveland against the Indians prepares them for a set with the Rays.

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