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Vázquez breaks out of slump to fuel offense

@IanMBrowne
September 13, 2020

Remember that little flurry from July 26-30 when Christian Vázquez ripped four homers in a span of five games? He looked primed to be one of the main sources of power for the Red Sox this season. But then something strange happened. He lost his power -- until Sunday at

Remember that little flurry from July 26-30 when Christian Vázquez ripped four homers in a span of five games? He looked primed to be one of the main sources of power for the Red Sox this season.

But then something strange happened. He lost his power -- until Sunday at Tropicana Field. The veteran catcher, who batted second in the finale of a four-game series against the Rays, roped a two-run homer to left-center in the top of the first that helped propel the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory.

Box score

It had been a long sip of coffee between homers for Vázquez, who had gone 123 at-bats without going deep before the one against Charlie Morton, which put a big smile on his face.

Lefty Martín Pérez -- who got the win, holding Tampa Bay to a pair of earned runs over five innings and striking out six -- couldn’t help but wonder if he was some sort of good-luck charm for his batterymate.

“I talked to him before the game and I told him, ‘Hey, you’re going to have a great game today,’ and I touched his bat,” said Pérez. “And he got mad because he doesn’t like the pitchers touching his bat, but I told him, ‘I’m going to give you all the hits that I have today.’ And you see what happened. He hit a homer, and he helped the team to win the game, too.”

Shortly after the blast, Vázquez was wheeled through the dugout in a blue recycling bin by his teammates.

Christian Arroyo, who mashed a two-run homer to right-center in the sixth that opened up a three-run lead for the Sox, also got the recycle bin treatment on a day the Red Sox were clearly having some fun salvaging a split in this four-game series against the first-place team in the American League East.

For Arroyo, who is trying to prove he can be the starting second baseman next season, it was his second homer in the last two days. And it served as tangible proof that the work he’s been doing in the cage the last few days with hitting coach Tim Hyers and assistant hitting coach Pete Fatse is bearing fruit.

“I really believe in trusting the whole process of getting to a spot where you’ll see results,” said Arroyo. “Especially early in the season. I take games I had quality at-bats in, where I had good swings on pitches and I felt like I was balanced and everything was working, I try to take those for wins for the day -- not necessarily hits.”

As for Vázquez, his determination to prove that his offensive breakout last year was no fluke had taken a hit of late. But on Sunday, he demonstrated he is plenty capable of a strong finish.

Through 144 at-bats, Vázquez has a line of .271/.327/.410 with five homers and 14 RBIs.

“I think, even though you tell guys, 'Don’t try to hit homers,' we still like them to hit homers,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “He’s been swinging the bat really good [lately] so I think that has a lot to do with it, he’s been getting a lot of hits, his swings are good. His at-bats are tough at-bats and I think once you do that, you gain confidence and you get that pitch in the zone ... you’re able to turn on it like he did today.

“I like what he’s doing a lot. He’s feeling really good behind the plate. I’m hoping he doesn’t try to swing for it too much, but if he just stays with what he’s doing, his average is going to keep climbing and he’ll hit some homers.”

And as Vázquez headed back to his South Florida home with his family for Monday’s off-day -- the Red Sox play the Marlins on Tuesday -- he did so with the weight of a lengthy home-run drought off his shoulders.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.