Hunter Renfroe had just provided the Boston Red Sox with arguably the biggest swing of the season.
And just three outs later it was Renfroe in the outfield who debatably provided the best (and most thrilling) defensive play of the campaign.
Renfroe did it all Wednesday night — a game-winning home run in the eighth inning, two outfield assists including an absolutely insane throw for the final out of the game — and it propelled the Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the first-place Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. While this may be recency bias weighing in, it certainly felt like the kind of win that could change Boston’s trajectory as they fight for a postseason berth.
“It was great,” Renfroe said when asked about his performance after the game. “Any time you can help the team win that’s huge and, obviously, the last throw and the homer was icing on the cake. We needed that win really bad, and as far as the game goes it was a huge pitching performance for both teams. I think they both did a great job. ? It was great.”
Renfroe’s home run in the eighth inning came as Boston trailed 1-0, and he explained how he was just looking for a pitch over the plate. He took a 90 mph slider from Tampa Bay reliever JT Charagois and sent it 415 feet over the Green Monster in left field. It was home run No. 27 on the season and the outfielder is now only the sixth in franchise history to record 25 or more home runs and 15 or more outfield assists. Renfroe now has 16 assists.
“Big swing. Big throw. What he’s done for us this season has been amazing,” manager Alex Cora said. “It was fun to watch.”
Starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi added: “Unbelievable. He’s been outstanding for us all year. Right field is not easy to play especially here at Fenway and he’s come in and done an outstanding job all year long.”
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Rays:
— Renfroe’s game-ending assist in the ninth was undoubtedly the best defensive play of the game, but there were plenty to choose from.
Bobby Dalbec made three consecutive plays at first in the seventh inning and applied to tag on the game’s final out. Kiké Hernández made a pair of nice plays on line drives to center field, as well.
“We’ve been talking about (defensive) plays and hopefully we learn from our mistakes and get better,” Cora expressed, one day after saying that he hoped the defense would get better as Boston had its starters return from the COVID-19 Related Injured list.
Eovaldi added: “We played really good baseball tonight. It was a good game.”
— Eovaldi came through when the Red Sox sorely needed a strong start. The veteran left-hander worked seven scoreless innings and allowed just three hits with eight strikeouts.
“He did an amazing job. Good fastball, good split, good breaking ball, kept them off balance, made pitches when he had to,” Cora said. “We played some good defense behind him, too. It was a much-needed start. We needed him to go deep into the game and he came through.”
— A lot has changed for Bobby Dalbec in the matter of six weeks. The latest depiction of that was when fans at Fenway were chanting “Bobby! Bobby!” with two outs in the eighth inning. Dalbec, who homered twice Tuesday, hit a ground ball to third base to end the threat, but he continues to make hard contact and his defensive plays stood out.
— The Red Sox will be off Thursday before they set out on a six-game road trip where they’ll face the Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners. First pitch from Chicago on Friday is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET, and you can watch it live on NESN.