How two unheralded players have offered Red Sox some hope

Rob Bradford
July 31, 2020 - 7:15 am
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Not all heroes wear capes or even crack the Top 10 on a team's player power rankings.

But there they were. Christian Vazquez and Martin Perez. Offering the Red Sox the kind of optimism few thought would be possible by the time this team started bussing to the Bronx instead of Queens.

Not only were both players key components in the Red Sox' third win of the season, a 4-2 victory over the Mets at Citi Field, but they also represented what actually might make things at least a little interesting during these final two months. (For a complete box score, click here.)

Starting with Vazquez ...

He may have been tired of hitting ninth, but few batted an eye when the catcher was put in such a spot in the batting order. There was enough around him that expectations for the Red Sox weren't going to live and die with Vazquez living life as a middle-of-the-order threat. He has played the most games in the majors hitting eighth (153), but ninth isn't that far behind (140). This is who he was. 

Not anymore.

With three home runs in his last two days Vazquez becomes the first Red Sox catcher since Carlton Fisk (1970) to hit four homers in the first seven games. Only Toronto's Teoscar Hernandez has as many home runs as the Red Sox catcher, who hasn't even played in two of his team's games this season.

Few are expecting Vazquez to keep up his current pace of hitting .421 with a 1.105 OPS. But without the likes of Mookie Betts, and a good chunk of the Red Sox' lineup's meat and potatoes (Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts) still not hitting their stride, the 29-year-old can actually be the kind of out-of-nowhere difference-maker competitive teams thrive on.

And then there is Perez ...

In his first start of the season, he was everything the "I told you so" faction of Red Sox followers built their platform on. The lefty was uneasy on the mound and unspectacular in delivering results. It helped pile on the pessimism for a team that had little starting rotation certainty after Nathan Eovaldi's turn. Simply put, there was going to be no hope unless Perez became the pitcher the Red Sox were banking on when signing that one-year, $6.5 million deal.

In start No. 2, they found that pitcher.

Perez looked like the guy who teased the Twins a year ago with his first eight starts, going 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA. Against the Mets, he gave up two runs on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. The Red Sox will take that every single time.

"Great job from Martin," said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. "Really commanded his pitches well from the first inning on. That’s huge for us to have him do that. Hembree came in and did a great job."

Suddenly, there is a chance. Who knew these two were going to be the ones chiefly responsible for delivering it.

 

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