Cora on streaking Sox: 'Great game, great series, great homestand'

May 5th, 2023

BOSTON -- If anyone symbolized the utter domination of the Blue Jays against the Red Sox last season, it was Kevin Gausman. The nasty righty went 3-0 against Boston in six starts in which he allowed 10 earned runs while walking two and striking out 47.

But the 2023 Red Sox continue to look like a team that has very little in common with the ‘22 Red Sox.

While stretching their season-high winning streak to six games, the 19-14 Sox pulled ahead of the Jays for third place in a loaded division in which all five teams are above .500.

The Sox pounded Gausman on Thursday night en route to an 11-5 victory that completed a four-game sweep over the Blue Jays and 6-1 homestand.

Gausman gave up nearly as many earned runs (eight) in this one start as he did in the six against the Red Sox last season.

“We grinded out at-bats, not too many swings and misses, and we swung at strikes,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “We put pressure on him on the bases. We did that before in ‘18 and ‘19 against him and today I think we had the personnel to do that compared to last year. We got on, and we were looking to put pressure on him.”

As a team, the Sox also turned the tables on the Jays these last four games, notching more victories against them than all of last year, when they went 3-16 against their American League East foe while getting outscored, 125-55.

For baseball teams over the course of a 162-game season, there is little that beats a happy flight -- even a short, happy flight. As they head to Philadelphia and Atlanta for a five-game road trip, the Red Sox have won five of their past six series.

“Overall, a great game, a great series, a great homestand,” said Cora.

Making it all the more impressive is the succession of quality teams Boston has played thus far this season. The Tigers are the only opponent the Red Sox have played that currently has a record below .500. Through 33 games, the biggest difference between last season and this season for Boston is the way the offense is consistently grinding out the other team’s starting pitcher.

Gausman was the latest victim, getting belted around for 10 hits while lasting 3 1/3 innings.

“It shouldn’t matter who’s on the mound,” said DH Justin Turner, who contributed with three hits. “It should be the same approach. Dominate the strike zone, swing at strikes and make those guys work hard and don’t give them easy outs. Throughout the series, we did a really really good job of that. When you do that, that’s when the results come.”

The offense has been the overriding strength for a team that is second in the Majors in runs with 195. Of late, Boston is getting firepower from top to bottom. The hitter who struggled for most of this homestand was star slugger Rafael Devers, but he bounced back in a big way on Thursday, roping three hits, including a two-run homer as part of a four-RBI night. The homer was No. 150 for the 26-year-old. Ted Williams and Jim Rice are the only other players who started their careers with Boston and got to 150 with the club faster than Devers, who got there in 721 games.

“I’m super proud of that new milestone I’ve achieved,” Devers said.

Nobody is hotter than Masataka Yoshida, who started the scoring with a solo rocket to right-center in the bottom of the first. It was part of a three-hit night for Yoshida, who stretched his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest active streak in the Majors. Yoshida is 25-for-56 during his sizzling run with 18 RBIs.

Jarren Duran, almost a forgotten man entering the season, continued his revival with another three-thit night.

“I’ve been saying it from the beginning. We have a good team,” Devers said. “[Alex Verdugo] didn’t even play today. Guys are getting a lot of timely hits and things are good.”

The Jays left Boston knowing these aren’t the same Red Sox they beat up on last year.

“Different year, different teams,” said Toronto manager John Schneider. “They’re firing on all cylinders offensively and a couple of guys are having really big years who haven’t had big years in the past. You tip your hat to them. Baseball works in funny ways. I’m sure we’re getting their best bullet after what happened last year.”