In the span of a week, the Boston Red Sox placed nine players on the COVID-19-related injured list. And since the team’s woes began when Kiké Hernández tested positive on Aug. 27, the Red Sox have posted a 6-3 record.
They earned their fourth-straight win Saturday against the Cleveland Indians thanks to a walk-off single from Alex Verdugo. The outfielder later revealed how the team has managed to keep it together and continue to chase the New York Yankees up the American League East standings — despite missing one of its biggest stars in Xander Bogaerts, not to mention seven other players.
According to Verdugo, the success amid what could have been a miserable stretch has a lot to do with a mindset shift.
Even on the other side of the All-Star break, the Red Sox were consistently celebrated for their seemingly never-ending string of comeback wins, at one point leading the league. Now, they’re using that same frame of mind as they push for a playoff spot.
“Beginning of the year, we were really good at, if we fell, we gave up the lead, whatever, we didn’t care,” Verdugo said. “We knew that at some point, seventh, eighth, ninth inning, we’re going to come back. Our guys are gonna be back at the plate, and they’ve got to get us out too. It’s starting to feel that way again. We’re playing small ball, getting guys over. We’re playing very team baseball, and that’s the biggest thing.”
Just take a look at their most recent winning streak, which extended to four games with Saturday’s win. Save for a 4-0 shutout of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, the Red Sox had to work their way out of a deficit or a tie in three games to come away with the win.
And the best part? In all three games, it was a different player who stepped up. Before Verdugo came through Saturday, it was Kyle Schwarber who kept the offense moving in Friday’s 8-5 defeat of the Indians, while Jarren Duran hit the winning RBI single against the Rays on Wednesday.
Adversity somehow has rejuvenated the Red Sox, who are now 79-59 and just half a game behind the New York Yankees for second place in the American League East and the first AL Wild Card spot.
If they can keep it up, this month will be real fun.