It's Story time: Trevor goes deep for 1st time with Sox

May 12th, 2022

ATLANTA -- The cheers heard from Boston to Atlanta as  hit his first homer in a Red Sox uniform signaled the hope that the offense was starting its engines in the two-game series at Truist Park. 

As Story rounded the bases, the screams were of hope that the two-time 30-homer hitter could return to his former glory. That vision, mixed with the red-hot top of the lineup led by J.D. Martinez's 13-game hitting streak, is the expectation fans had when the Red Sox signed the former Rockies star to a six-year, $140 million free-agent contract.

"[Story’s] putting [together] good swings," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after a 5-3 walk-off loss to the Braves that turned on a controversial strike three call. "To see him hitting the ball straight center, that's a good approach, good swing. At that point, up 2-0 and us rolling, it felt like it was gonna be a good offensive night."

Story went into the series batting .194 with an on-base percentage of .276 and a slugging percentage of .269. The most alarming sign for the newly acquired second baseman was that he hadn’t hit a big fly since last year. But Story went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in Tuesday’s 9-4 win. And on Wednesday, he hit a two-run shot a projected 422 feet in the second inning.

Red Sox fans were elated at Truist Park and on social media when Story’s first long ball in 125 plate appearances landed in the trees in dead center field. That snapped the longest home run drought of Story’s career. His previous long was 116 plate appearances from September 2020 to April 2021.

But it'll take the whole lineup getting into a groove to get the bats to take off.

"Everybody's important," Cora said. "We've been talking about the struggles, these team struggles, and when we're going good it's everybody doing their job."

Boston’s two through four hitters Wednesday -- Rafael Devers, Martinez and Xander Bogaerts -- are all batting .295 or better. Bogaerts and Devers are tied for second in the American League in hits (40, one behind Seattle's Ty France), and Martinez, who tied for the Major League lead with 42 doubles last year, is tied for third this year with 10.

In other words, the potentially powerful Boston lineup is beginning to wake up as Story adjusts to his new home.

The Red Sox went into the Atlanta series on a five-game losing streak and with little offensive production. They head to Arlington to begin a series against the Rangers on Friday with signs of improvement and of getting into a rhythm.

"I do believe that the last few days offensively, as far as like swinging and being patient and working counts, all that, has been a lot better compared to before,” Cora said. “So hopefully, we can take that to Texas and do the same thing. And if we do that the offense is gonna wake up."

The Red Sox’s five through nine batters had hit .192 (102-for-532) this season entering Wednesday's game. The bottom of the order showed promise in the sixth inning when it loaded the bases. But a controversial third strike call on Kevin Plawecki ended the threat and spoiled a potentially big inning.

"That's what we're trying to accomplish,” Cora said. “The bottom part of the lineup set up the table for the big boys, and they do what they do."

The game's momentum was further turned when Cora and Plawecki were ejected for arguing the strike call. Ball four would have given the Red Sox a 4-3 lead, and Boston was hopeful that if the lineup had turned over, they could bust the game open.

"We've talked about as a group grinding out [at-bats], and we did another good job with that tonight," Plawecki said. "Ball out of the hand ended up a ball called a strike [which] cost us a run, and [it] changed the trajectory of the game and the way it goes moving forward."