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'Complete package' Vázquez powers Sox

@IanMBrowne
July 31, 2020

In a lineup stacked with the likes of J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, it is easy to forget what a dangerous bat Christian Vázquez possesses. You don't have to tell the Mets. For the second straight night, it was Vázquez who came up with the biggest swings for

In a lineup stacked with the likes of J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, it is easy to forget what a dangerous bat Christian Vázquez possesses.

You don't have to tell the Mets. For the second straight night, it was Vázquez who came up with the biggest swings for the Red Sox.

The catcher bashed two homers against Mets lefty Steven Matz to lead Boston to a second straight victory at Citi Field, this time by a score of 4-2.

Box score

Vázquez has a team-leading four homers, three of which have come the past two games. While Martinez, Andrew Benintendi and Bogaerts search for their grooves, Vázquez (.421/.450/1.105) has been carrying the offense through the first week.

"I think somebody needs to do it," Vázquez said. "I know they're going to come back and be great hitters, but we need to win [now]. We need to do whatever we need to do to win, and we're playing better now."

When Vázquez wasn't belting the ball over the wall, he was guiding the pitching staff to a much-needed quality performance, led by lefty starter Martín Pérez, who recovered from a shaky first start by winning his first game with Boston.

Pérez held the Mets to two hits and two runs while walking four and striking out five over 5 2/3 innings, as the 3-4 Red Sox won for the first time this season in a game started by someone other than Nathan Eovaldi.

Notes: Araúz makes first start; E-Rod update

In a gutsy sequence in the bottom of the third, with two on and two outs, and Michael Conforto up in the count 2-0, Vázquez called for three straight changeups. Pérez pounded all three of them in for strikes, escaping with a punchout.

"When I talk about calling a good game, he and Martín really locked in today, which is important," said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. "You don't want your pitcher out there shaking off a lot. I thought Christian called a great game, and Martín certainly followed that with throwing the ball well."

The bullpen took it home, but not without a scare. Matt Barnes needed 37 pitches to get through the eighth, but he stranded the bases loaded.

Brandon Workman, pitching for the third straight night, finished it with a save in the ninth.

In addition to his big hits and steady game-calling, Vázquez fired a seed of a throw from his knees to nail Conforto attempting to steal second base in the bottom of the second.

"He made a good throw to second, and we get out of the inning," Pérez said. "He hit two homers. Called a good game. He's a good catcher, and I love Vázquez -- how he called the game and how he played the game."

When Vázquez was coming up through the farm system and even in his first few years with the Red Sox, the talk was always about his glove and cannon arm. There was very little mention of his bat.

But in the offseason prior to the 2019 season, Vázquez worked with a new hitting coach and learned how to elevate the ball. He responded by belting 23 homers in a breakout season few saw coming. And now, he looks determined to show that was no fluke.

And it may humor you to know what inspired Vázquez to take his game to another level offensively.

"Yeah, I was tired of hitting ninth," said Vázquez, who was in the No. 5 slot on Thursday. "I wanted to be a different player. I wanted to feel like I'm helping the team both ways. Hitting, catching, I'm trying to do my best."

Vázquez's best is proving to be pretty good.

"Obviously Vazqy's always been a very, very good defensive catcher, one of the best in the game," Workman said. "Over the last couple of years, watching him come into his own offensively, it's awesome to watch. He's now gone from a defensive catcher to … he's the complete package. He can drive the ball out of the ballpark, he hits for average and then he's still elite behind the plate."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.