Winckowski glove-flip leads to pivotal escape

Red Sox rookie righty thwarts Royals' rally in 4th inning, wins 2nd straight start

August 6th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- It was a nice, consistent week for Red Sox right-hander Josh Winckowski. Two starts, two wins and only three runs allowed over a combined 10 innings.

The Red Sox can only hope that trend continues for several more weeks through August and September as they attempt to navigate through heavy traffic and make their way toward an American League Wild Card spot.

On Friday night against the Royals, Winckowski hung tough in a telling fourth inning and the Red Sox went on to a 7-4 victory at Kauffman Stadium. Boston held a 3-0 lead when Kansas City loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Winckowski wouldn’t allow the Royals to seize the momentum.

The rookie pitcher induced a dribbler back to the mound by Kyle Isbel, resulting in a glove-flip forceout at the plate. And then, after running the count to 3-1 on Nicky Lopez, Winckowski came back to record a strikeout and the Red Sox took off from there.

Winckowski let out a little roar of exaltation after escaping the fourth.

“That inning got long and I had to make a lot of pitches,” he said.

The only blemish for Winckowski was a mammoth solo homer to left-center by Salvador Perez with two outs in the fifth. In fairness, Perez has been belting homers off a lot of pitchers recently. Winckowski then got the final out of the inning to put himself in position to gain the victory and Boston’s bullpen took it home over the final four innings.

“He’s learning on the fly and doing an outstanding job for us,” manager Alex Cora said of Winckowski. “He gave us five innings, the same as [last Sunday against Milwaukee]. Made a nice play on the comebacker, too.”

By making a glove-flip home on the Isbel dribbler, Winckowski showed poise in not rushing the play. Catcher Reese McGuire, acquired by the Red Sox earlier in the week in a Trade Deadline deal with the White Sox, was behind the plate Friday and in sync with Winckowski throughout his five innings.

“He got to catch my bullpen for this game and did a tremendous job of getting up to speed real quick,” Winckowski said of McGuire. “I felt really comfortable with him today.”

Boston’s offense, which had been stagnant in the previous two games, came to Winckowski’s aid with a 13-hit attack. Xander Bogaerts tied a career high with four hits and Alex Verdugo had three hits and a walk, including a pair of opposite-field doubles.

Cora said the plan going in was not to expand the zone against Kansas City starter Zack Greinke. An RBI double by Eric Hosmer (his first hit with the Red Sox) and a two–run double by J.D. Martinez got Boston off and running.

“Greinke has mastered throwing pitches around the zone and getting people out,” Cora said. “We have to grind at-bats. At one point, Hosmer had seen 20 pitches and only swung at three of them. It’s something we’re going to keep talking about. We have to stay in the zone. When we do that, we become a really good offensive club.”