Notes: Homer-happy Sox; injury updates

May 18th, 2021

What happens when you take two of the most homer-happy teams in the Majors and drop them into an offensive tinderbox like TD Ballpark? With this week's series between the Red Sox and Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., we won't have to wonder for long.

"I think you've gotta live with the results, right?" Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "There's gonna be some fly balls that are gonna go out of the ballpark and you cannot get frustrated."

Toronto (56 home runs) and Boston (53) enter their three-game matchup ranked first and third, respectively, in the American League in long balls this season. And according to Statcast's Park Factors ratings, TD Ballpark is tied for first in the Majors as an offense-friendly facility.

Part of that is due to the park's single-level outfield, which can create a sort of jet stream effect that allows balls to carry on particularly windy days. That was the case this past weekend in a series between the Phillies and Blue Jays; particularly on Sunday, when the teams combined for 18 runs and six homers.

"Watching videos and watching a few of the balls that the Phillies hit to right-center over the course of [this past weekend], that right-center gap is real," Cora said. "The ball shoots that way."

Cora suggested that pitching stat lines for this series in Dunedin might end up being misleading if there are some cheap home runs to be had. A pitcher could give up five runs in six innings, say, and still have made a satisfactory start.

As much as the Red Sox's offense has thrived on home runs, their pitching staff has been just as effective in preventing them. Boston has allowed just 0.73 home runs per nine innings this season, which is the lowest in the American League (third in MLB).

Given that, there's not much Cora can advise his team to do. More of the same, on both sides, is all he can hope for.

"From the pitching side, keep doing what we've been doing," he said. "Obviously pitch to weak contact. Offensively, I think we do a good job of driving the ball that way, so we'll see where it takes us."

Injury updates
Kiké Hernández (10-day injured list, right hamstring strain) was activated and placed into Tuesday's starting lineup. He spent the minimum allotted time on the IL, though he still remarked that "10 days felt like a month." In a pair of rehab games with Triple-A Worcester over the weekend, Hernández went 2-for-6 with two home runs, five RBIs and two strikeouts.

• With the Red Sox down in Florida this week, you might think they'd have a chance to check in on (60-day IL, right elbow), who is still rehabbing at the team's spring complex in Fort Myers (a two-hour drive from Dunedin). That's not the case, Cora said, because Sale isn't part of the team's "bubble." Cora said he doesn't know when Sale will throw from a mound next.

"One thing he's really excited about is the way he's bouncing back after all the workouts and all that, so that's a good sign," said Cora.

(10-day IL, left hand contusion) is with Worcester and took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since sustaining his injury.