BOSTON -- Though it was Mookie Betts who literally walked the Red Sox off with a 4-3 win on Wednesday against the Rangers at Fenway Park, it was the resurgent Andrew Benintendi's sweet swings earlier in the game that put the Red Sox in position for a victory they truly
BOSTON -- Though it was Mookie Betts who literally walked the Red Sox off with a 4-3 win on Wednesday against the Rangers at Fenway Park, it was the resurgent Andrew Benintendi's sweet swings earlier in the game that put the Red Sox in position for a victory they truly needed.
It was a day that started with Boston back at .500. The disappointing record has been due to several individuals performing below their expected levels of performance -- Benintendi included.
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And that’s why it’s been so important to see the left-handed hitter getting his stroke back of late. As the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, the Sox will be that much better when he is creating traffic after Betts and in front of J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts.
Benintendi’s 3-for-4 performance gave him a solid line of .327/.389/.612 since May 29, which is the day before he went back to the No. 2 spot in the batting order that he performed so well in last season.
“I just think that I was trying to do too much,” Benintendi said. “I was swinging at bad pitches and not staying in my zone. A combination of those things will lead to not hitting the ball well.”
While Lance Lynn held down most of Boston’s offense in his seventh consecutive quality start, Benintendi was the one who had his number.
In the first, Benintendi went perfectly with the pitch and hammered a double down the left-field line. He then scored on a single by Rafael Devers.
Benintendi struck again in the third, unloading for an RBI triple off the wall in center. And in the fifth, he launched a double off the Monster in left-center for another RBI.
“Today, he took some great swings,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “It started with going the other way. We need him to start driving the ball. It's not pull side. It's not homers. He can hit 40, 45 doubles and we'd take that. He's a complete hitter. It was good to see him swing the bat the way he did tonight. Yesterday, he put a good swing on the ball to straight center, and the home run the other day. He's in a good place right now.”
There are adjustments that led to Benintendi’s turnaround, though he’s not quite ready to divulge what they are.
“I feel like it’s coming,” said Benintendi. “It’s been a grind for pretty much the whole year trying to find my swing again. I think I’ve been talking to a lot of guys, and I think we found something the last few days which I’m going to try to keep working on. So I feel like I’m barreling up more consistently the last few days. Just go from there.”
Benintendi conceded after the game that this is the longest he can ever remember trying to find his swing.
“It’s crazy,” Benintendi said. “You don’t even really realize it until you’re 25 games in and your swing just kind of adapts with everything else with how you’re feeling. It’s good to get down there and watch video and go and talk to other players. It’s definitely been the longest I’ve ever gone trying to find it.”
And now that he’s found it, he hopes to keep it. The Red Sox need him -- and several other key hitters -- to climb out of the 7 1/2-game deficit they currently have in the American League East.
“I mean, this is a game that everybody kind of knew we needed to win and Rick [Porcello] went out there and, after that first, he threw the ball really well and gave us a shot to win,” Benintendi said. “Yeah, this is a big win, so hopefully we can build off of it.”
That quest will get easier if Benintendi keeps raking.
“He’s swinging the bat well. He’s wearing out that wall in left-center right now,” said Porcello. “He looks great.”
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.