Three takeaways from Red Sox's road trip

Shifts in Boston's offense, pitching momentum prior to homestand

August 9th, 2021

After dropping the first two games of the four-game series, the Red Sox weren’t able to salvage the series split as a three-run eighth-inning homer from George Springer provided the final blow as Boston fell to Toronto, 9-8, on Sunday at Rogers Centre.

Closer , tasked with getting four outs to finish out the series finale with Boston leading, 8-6, left a 2-2 fastball over the middle of the plate that Springer hit out of the park to diminish any hopes the Red Sox had to walk away with a win.

“Just plain and simple, the ball leaked in the middle and he put a good swing on it," Barnes said. "We were trying to execute a fastball away there to him. Given the at-bat yesterday and how that played out today, I didn't think he would be sitting on another fastball.”

The four games in Toronto were filled with highs and lows for the Red Sox. They flashed a version of the team that made them an early playoff contender, as well as the rendition that has more recently lost ground in the American League East standings.

But the 2-8 road trip ended on a few positive notes for Boston, as the offense put up a commanding lead early in the finale to back ' five-inning start, as he allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and one walk with two strikeouts.

Barnes was tagged for the loss, his second in the series, as the Red Sox (65-49) sit four games back of the first-place Rays (68-44) in the AL East, while their lead in the AL Wild Card race is down to one game.

As the Red Sox trek back to Boston before their pivotal three-game series against Tampa Bay, here are three takeaways from the road trip:

Offense shifts the momentum
When clubbed his 11th long ball of the season during Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader to tie the game at 1, there was an inkling that the homer shifted the momentum for the Red Sox. They won the game in extras, 2-1, and the offense only continued to head up overnight.

Boston responded with seven runs on 10 hits against Ryu on Sunday, and one run against the bullpen, far surpassing its typical run-scoring output from the past 15 contests, in which the Red Sox averaged 2.8 runs per game.

The offensive turnaround can also be contributed to , who went 4-for-5 with three RBIs in his return to the lineup after being on the COVID-19-related injured list. The designated hitter has struggled at the plate recently, as he slashed .167/.194/.267 with three RBIs in the previous seven games.

“We did some great things,” manager Alex Cora said. “Let's carry that over, with that and [] has the ball, [we can] set the tempo from the get-go and try to get the W [on Tuesday].”

Rotation righting the ship
Cora said that the Red Sox's pitching and offensive struggles started back in early July when they won two out of three in Oakland by one-run scores. Since then, Boston went from first place in the AL East with a 4 1/2 game lead to sitting atop the AL Wild Card.

The rotation has taken the brunt of the Red Sox's 13 losses since the All-Star break, with a 1-7 record and a 5.44 ERA entering Sunday -- the second-highest average in MLB in that span. But nine scoreless innings from and in Saturday's doubleheader, along with a scheduled return from for Aug. 14, the rotation sees brighter days ahead.

“It'll be good, but we got games before [Sale] pitches," Cora said. "We're going to take care of business first. We got a tough series against the Rays. Go back to Fenway, do our thing and start playing better baseball.”

Home sweet home
The Red Sox wrapped up their 10-game road trip with eight losses. Though they’ve been one of the better teams on the road with a 32-27 record, Boston has lost six of its last 17 games on the road.

But after Sunday’s loss dropped the season series, the Red Sox head back to familiar territory. The Red Sox's 33-22 record at home is the fourth best in the American League, which should help with the beginnings of a hot streak against none other than the first-place Rays to kick off the six-game homestand.

"We're still in a good spot, let's be honest. It was a tough road trip, but we'll go home and dominate at home,” Cora said. “Looking forward to going home, [resetting] tomorrow. We know certain guys that we're going to add this week to [the] roster -- they're gonna help us out.”