As individuals and a collective, the Boston Red Sox have a huge chip on their shoulders.
Their improbable place in the American League Championship Series has come after a resilient run, perpetually underestimated all season. A last-place finish in 2020, no initial fans at Fenway Park, injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak have all worked against them.
But here they are, two victories away from winning the pennant. Boston against the world, yet again.
“I think more than anything it was kind of, like you said, it was more of just self — there was no self-doubt,” outfielder Hunter Renfroe told reporters Tuesday before Game 4 against the Houston Astros, via ASAP Sports. “I believed that we could do it.”
Belief is a powerful thing, especially when paired with the motivation to prove something. Throughout the Red Sox’s roster are personal stories of players trying to do just that.
Starting pitcher Nick Pivetta benefitted from a change of scenery after falling out of favor with the Philadelphia Phillies and being traded to Boston last summer. J.D. Martinez bounced back tremendously after a slump through the abbreviated COVID-19 season. Starting pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez stayed healthy all year, and Chris Sale returned to the mound after two years.
“For me I wanted to prove that I could be an everyday player,” Renfroe said, amid one of the best years of his career having earned a regular spot in the Red Sox lineup. “I knew I could be an everyday player and just stay healthy, and Kiké (Hernández), obviously, he wanted to prove that he could hit right-handed pitching, where with the Dodgers he was mostly a left-handed pinch-hitter coming off the bench. I think that’s more than anything everybody here wanted to prove that 2020 was a fluke and that we wanted to be out there and win. We all had something to prove. A little chip on our shoulder, and I think we did well.”
Renfroe says the Red Sox have been well aware of their potential since spring training, but he imagined how good they could be well before that, when he decided to sign with Boston before the season in the first place.
They’ll try to keep proving people wrong in Game 4, with first pitch between the Red Sox and Astros slated for 8:08 p.m. ET.