Clutch Arroyo 'living in the moment' for Sox

June 17th, 2021

ATLANTA -- has turned into Mr. June for the Red Sox.

His latest clutch homer came with two outs in the top of the seventh and it was a grand slam -- the first of the season for Boston.

Backed by Arroyo, the Red Sox rallied back for an exciting 10-8 victory to sweep the two-game series in Atlanta. Boston won by the same score on Tuesday, the first time in franchise history it has recorded back-to-back wins by that unusual score.

This was quite a way for Mr. June to send the Sox to their first off-day of the month after a grueling schedule in which they played 17 straight days, with all but one of the contests coming against teams that made the playoffs last year. At 42-27, the Sox are one game back in the American League East.

“It wasn’t a perfect game, but we’ll take it again,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Reset tomorrow. We ended a tough stretch, we grinded through it. We had a positive record, 10-7, so for how ugly it looked, I know a lot of teams will take 10-7 in a 17-stretch against teams that made it to the playoffs last year.”

Arroyo was one of the key reasons the Sox got through this tough point of the schedule in such good shape. He leads Boston this month with four homers. All of them have either tied the game or put the Red Sox ahead. Three of them have come in the past week.

“This is why we play the game -- we play the game to win and we play the game to have fun. And when you're doing both of them, everything's great,” said Arroyo. “I'm not going to try to ride the highs too hard and I'm not going to try to ride the lows too low. I'm going to keep having fun. My motto has kind of become, 'I'm just livin',' and that's it. Living in the moment and just playing.”

The emergence of Arroyo, who was battling just to win a roster spot in Spring Training, continues to gain steam.

“It means everything,” said Arroyo. “But at the end of the day, it's all about just getting the opportunity and trying to run with it.”

This was a game the Red Sox led 4-1 and 6-3. Garrett Richards, who had a rough night on the mound, served up a game-tying, three-run homer to Dansby Swanson in the fifth. Freddie Freeman took Hirokazu Sawamura deep in the bottom of the sixth to put Atlanta in front, 7-6.

With the based loaded in the seventh and the pitcher’s spot due up, Cora had switch-hitter Danny Santana ready to pinch-hit. When Braves manager Brian Snitker took righty Shane Greene in favor of lefty A.J. Minter, Cora pulled Santana in favor of the right-handed-hitting Arroyo.

“We sent Danny for Greene and they decided to go with a lefty and we liked that matchup,” said Cora. “I like the fact he went out there swinging. Sometimes when you pinch-hit, you put yourself in a hole. But the first pitch even though it wasn’t a competitive one, he swung. Then he got a cutter, slider down in the zone and put a good swing on it. He’s been doing that the whole month.”

Minter got ahead 1-2 but Arroyo hammered his 1-2 cutter for a no-doubter that went a Statcast-projected 467 feet to left.

“He was short to the ball, didn’t open up and crushed that ball,” said Cora.

It was the fourth longest home run by a Boston player since Statcast started tracking them in 2015.

“I had been preparing all game,” said Arroyo. “I knew the potential of who I was going to face, which was going to be a lefty and I tried to look at as many lefties as I could just to see pitch shapes again. Just went in, tried to be as prepared as I could be and just grind out an at-bat and try to help the team.”