It was a month filled with the lowest of lows for the Boston Red Sox.
And that’s exactly what made Sunday’s 7-2 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers all the more needed. Boston closed out the brutal month of July with a complete effort featuring starting pitching, timely hitting, impactful defense and a shutdown bullpen.
The Red Sox looked like a team capable of reaching their postseason aspirations.
It prompted a fair share of positivity from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, despite the fact the first 30 days of July saw both poor play and injuries to Chris Sale, Trevor Story and Rafael Devers.
“Like I always say, you play defense at this level and you’re going to have a chance to win. We did a good job today,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “The bats, we put some good at-bats. We used the whole field today. We ran the bases well.
“So, all around a really good game.”
Cora has been rather transparent during Boston’s slide this month. He offered honest assessments of Boston’s defense and all other factors which caused the Red Sox to fall from the top of the wild card standings to currently out of the playoff picture. On Sunday, though, he was left with a glass half full.
“One thing for sure is nothing has changed as far as preparation and going about the game the right way. Sometimes it doesn’t look great, but we were very proud of how we have stayed the course,” Cora said. “It was a tough month. A very tough month. It started in Toronto that Friday in Chicago, but we finished the month on a positive note.”
Boston now is 3.5 games back of a wild-card spot with the MLB trade deadline just 48 hours away.
Here are more notes from Red Sox-Brewers on Sunday:
— J.D. Martinez, who has been included in trade speculation, addressed the possibility of him playing his last game at Fenway Park while speaking with NESN’s Jahmai Webster after Sunday’s game. He shouted out the Red Sox fans, should it be the final time.
“I appreciate everything. I appreciate the love. Just, the constant energy every time you come in here,” Martinez said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “It’s something, if I do get traded, it’s something I’m definitely going to miss and I admire. These fans are as hard on me as I am on myself.”
— Martinez broke a 0-for-25 streak with a pair of doubles Sunday, including an RBI double during Boston’s five-run fifth inning. Cora was not surprised to see Martinez end the low streak, and is confident it’s the start of a something better.
“It was just a matter of time. He’s relentless, we know that,” Cora said of Martinez. “He put some good at-bats. One thing about him, regardless of what’s going on 0-for-22 or 10-for-22, he has this way of detaching the result from the process. He makes an out, he turns the page. He hits a homer, he turns the page. … Hopefully it’s the beginning of something great.”
— Josh Winckowski earned Boston its first win by a starting pitcher during the month of July. The right-hander allowed two runs on seven hits in five innings.
“It was good. His stuff was OK,” Cora said. “Like we talk about, you know, for him to go deep into games he has to be efficient. It’s not about strikeouts, it’s about getting quick outs, getting ground balls, and we did a good job behind him.”
— The Red Sox went 8-19 this month while Boston’s starting pitchers went 1-13 with a 7.09 ERA, allowing 17 home runs in the 27 contests.
— Boston now will head to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros. First pitch on Monday is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.