BOSTON -- Remember that “letdown” the Red Sox supposedly had at the Trade Deadline because their competitors stocked up and Boston’s main acquisition wouldn’t be able to play for at least two weeks because of a right hamstring injury?
Well, it turns out that Kyle Schwarber was entirely worth the wait. And you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who still thinks that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made a mistake by trading for Schwarber instead of Anthony Rizzo, who went to the Yankees.
Schwarber (3-for-4 with four runs scored, two homers and four RBIs) flexed his muscles and flattened the Mets on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, propelling the streaking Red Sox to their seventh consecutive win -- a 12-5 romp over the Mets.
“He's been clutch,” said Red Sox starter Chris Sale, who improved to 5-0 since his return from Tommy John surgery. “Tonight was obviously his show, and he carried the weight. You couldn't ask for any more from someone you acquire at the Trade Deadline, doing exactly what we expected him to do. He knows what he can do. We all know what he can do. He's been around a while now. That was a big piece for us.”
And if there was some public perception among Red Sox fans that Schwarber wasn’t a big enough piece back on July 29 when the trade was made, the slugger said he wasn’t aware of it.
“No. I think you’re the first one to tell me that. Thanks for telling me,” quipped Schwarber. “I’m all about winning. That’s me. I want to win. I was obviously very grateful for the time in Washington, but being able to come here to know that we’re in a playoff push -- it’s all about winning.”
Backed by their recent resurgence, the Red Sox (88-65) are in possession of the first American League Wild Card spot by two games over the Yankees. The Blue Jays are 2 1/2 games behind Boston.
That sets up a huge rivalry showdown this weekend when the Yankees come to Fenway for a three-game series that starts on Friday night.
“Yeah, very excited to see what the atmosphere is going to be like,” said Schwarber. “Obviously it’s going to be my first Yankees-Red Sox matchup here in Boston. I’m definitely very excited to show up to the field on Friday and see the buzz. It’s going to be fun. I’m sure it’s going to be electric, and I think we’re all going to be ready for the challenge.”
But before getting to the Yankees, Schwarber torched the Mets one last time in 2021. Schwarber has belted nine homers against them this season, including four multihomer efforts.
“He’s been really good against [Taijuan] Walker, and he’s a good pitcher,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “We talked a little bit today in the hitters’ meeting, and he talked about, ‘Be ready to hit a fastball.’ And obviously he did, and we did an outstanding job offensively early on.”
The left-handed-hitting Schwarber got the Red Sox started in the bottom of the first, when he mashed a solo homer to center field in the first inning that had an exit velocity of 112.6 mph and traveled a projected distance of 434 feet.
In the second, he mauled a three-run rocket (105.8 mph and 405 feet) beyond the visitors’ bullpen and into the bleachers in right.
In 32 games and 111 at-bats with the Red Sox, Schwarber has a slash line of .297/.431/.541 with 29 runs scored, nine doubles, six homers, 17 RBIs and 25 walks.
Schwarber might have been in a bit of a September dry spell when it came to the long ball, but just like that, his 47 at-bat homerless drought ended with moonshots in back-to-back innings -- giving him 31 for the season.
Heading down the stretch, Schwarber -- who has a World Series-winning track record with the 2016 Cubs and is known for his relentless at-bats -- figures to be a significant player for Boston.
“We want to be able to keep winning and get to the postseason and keep winning in the postseason,” said Schwarber. “Postseason baseball, it’s addicting. It’s a different kind of baseball. It’s something that you want to get to every single year.”