BOSTON — Jarren Duran took his first consistent steps to changing the top of the lineup for the Boston Red Sox last season.

His game-changing speed sparked the Red Sox and pressured the opposition for 102 games before a season-ending toe injury at Yankee Stadium. That set the stage for Duran to show that he can do it for a full campaign in 2024. He’s off to a good start in doing just that.

The speedy outfielder leads the American League with seven stolen bases and woke up the Boston offense Thursday. The Red Sox scored a first-inning run off of Cleveland Guardians starter Carlos Carrasco, then struggled to put anything together for the next four innings.

Reese McGuire and Ceddanne Rafaela reached base with two-out singles ahead of Duran in the sixth inning with the Red Sox facing a 5-1 deficit. The Boston leadoff hitter laced a ball that rolled to the triangle in right-center field for a triple that scored both runners. Duran later scored on a balk, cutting the deficit to one in the blink of an eye.

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The Red Sox could not complete the comeback in a 5-4 loss to the Guardians.

“Momentum can shift, but it can also shift out of your way,” Duran told reporters at Fenway Park after Thursday’s loss.

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The loss dropped the Red Sox to 10-10 through the first 20 games of the season. The road ahead only gets harder without offensive presences in Rafael Devers and Tyler O’Neill, who account for most of Boston’s power, as they work through injuries. Trevor Story is out for the season and Triston Casas needs runners to drive in.

Duran already meant enough to the Red Sox lineup. Without their heavy hitters, playing a dynamic style and relying on young athleticism will have to do. It’s up to Duran to lead that group ahead through his play.

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“We can’t look at it like that,” Duran added. “We’ve gotta get each other’s back and keep moving forward. I know we’re missing some big guys, but we’ve got a lot of dogs in here that want to go out there and play their best. That’s what we’re gonna do.”

The Red Sox were undefeated in games where Duran records a hit and a stolen base prior to Thursday’s loss. There’s no player on the roster that can impact the offense, which has lacked consistency, like Duran can.

To stay on track heading into May and rise above the countless injuries, the Red Sox have to embrace Duran’s dynamic ability.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images