An epic Story: 3 homers, 4 hits, 7 RBIs, 1 steal

'It was special,' first-year Red Sox infielder says after memorable game at Fenway Park

May 20th, 2022

BOSTON -- With each forceful cut  unleashed en route to a monster performance on Thursday night at Fenway Park, he distanced himself from the difficult slump he endured in his first few weeks with the Red Sox.

How much distance, you ask?

As part of a 4-for-4 night that included five runs, seven RBIs and one stolen base, Story belted three homers -- the latter two of which soared over the Green Monster and onto Lansdowne Street -- at an aggregate Statcast-projected distance of 1,163 feet.

As the third homer left his bat, Story pirouetted in the batter’s box before joyfully trotting around the bases. The power-packed performance led the Red Sox to a 12-6 victory over the Mariners in the opener of a four-game series.

This is the Story the Red Sox targeted before the lockout and ultimately signed to a six-year, $140 million contract after Spring Training had started.

On the two-week anniversary of getting booed at Fenway Park after striking out four times in one afternoon against the brilliant offerings of Shohei Ohtani, Story soaked in the roars from a crowd of 29,783. And they got louder each time he went deep.

“Yeah, it was special,” said Story. “Just, like I’ve said, this is the best place. It’s a great atmosphere and an unbelievable place to play every night. To do it here is something I’ll remember forever.”

It was the second three-homer game of Story’s career and the 35th in Red Sox history.

Yes, Story should do fine away from the thin air and the humidor at Coors Field.

“I mean, the at-bats are getting better,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He keeps working hard at it. And he’s a good athlete. He will hit, we know that. He’s feeling comfortable in the environment. It’s just a matter of time.”

On Monday, Story had a breakout moment, unloading for a game-tying homer (his first at Fenway), leading the Red Sox to a big 6-3 win over the Astros.

On Thursday, Story had something much more significant. He had a breakout night.

It’s likely Monday helped lead to Thursday. Any baseball player performs better with more confidence.

“Baseball is the most challenging sport in the world. I feel like on an everyday basis, you’re going to be challenged, especially here,” said Story. “It’s something that I take a lot of pride in -- trying to be very even-keeled about it all. I just believe that the hard work pays off eventually, but yeah, [slumps are] always very challenging.

“You just grind every day, and when you go out there and play, you just let it rip, and hopefully the stuff you’re working on clicks.”

It was as if everything came together for Story on Thursday. But this has also been building.

In Story’s first 105 plate appearances of the season -- which took him to May 8 -- he had a line of .194/.276/.269 with no homers and nine walks.

In his past 40 plate appearances starting on May 10, Story has slashed .333/.425/.818 with five homers and six walks. The uptick in the walk rate is significant, Story acknowledged.

As for the fixes to his swing? Story doesn’t think it has been anything major.

“Very simple stuff,” Story said. “Just trying to be more balanced. Be on time. I think that’s as simple as I can put it and not try to do too much. I think that works really well for me.”

While the Red Sox will take a three-homer night anytime they can get it, power is just one element to Story’s well-rounded game. He is also a plus defender, even while learning a new position at second base. And he is the best baserunner the Red Sox have.

Story’s all-around prowess became more evident by this nugget: He is the first Red Sox player to have multiple homers and a stolen base in one game at Fenway since John Valentin on Aug. 10, 1995. Story got a great jump for his steal on Thursday, motoring into third.

“He’s playing free, and that’s something I told him in the recruiting process, that one more athlete to this lineup is going to help us,” Cora said. “Just play. With him, he has the green light, he can run whenever he wants to. He’s a smart baserunner. He brings a different dimension.”

Just as Story is getting hot, the 16-22 Red Sox are showing signs of digging out of their early season rut, winning six of nine after starting the season 10-19.

“It just shows his talent. He’s an incredible hitter,” said winning pitcher Tanner Houck. “Us as a team, we struggled early, but I think everyone now has truly picked it up. For him to go out there tonight, with three homers, seven RBIs, just an incredible night.”