USA Today Sports

Ian Kinsler, Red Sox turning out to be good fit

Rob Bradford
September 03, 2018 - 4:23 pm

ATLANTA -- Ian Kinsler learned about his new team immediately after walking back to the dugout following the second baseman's first at-bat with the Red Sox.

"My first night I tried to bunt in my first at-bat. (Xander Bogaerts) led off with a double and I think we were down one and I figured the.   third baseman was back and just looking at the game I felt like it was a good opportunity to lay one down. I bunted it foul and ended up striking out,” Kinsler told regarding the July 31 game. “I came back in the clubhouse and Mookie (Betts) was like, ‘We don’t bunt.’ Alright, we rake here. Let’s do that."

It was an approach that was reinforced Saturday in Chicago when Kinsler peered toward Alex Cora wondering if he should take a pitch on 3-0. He swung. Home run.

"On 3-0 he looked into the dugout. Don’t even look," the Red Sox manager said. "We don’t believe in taking 3-0."

Monday afternoon, he took the Red Sox' way of doing things to heart again and it resulted in one of the biggest hits in his team's 8-2 win over the Braves. This time the aggressiveness manifested itself in Kinsler swinging at the first pitch saw immediately after Eduardo Nunez broke up Touki Toussaint's no-hitter in the fifth inning. He jumped on the offering, rifling a run-scoring double to give the visitors a lead they wouldn't surrender. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' win, click here.)

In the eighth inning, Kinsler went the other way again, this time lining a single into right field with two outs and the bases loaded for two more runs.

They were the latest examples of Kinsler leaving his mark on the Red Sox, and the Red Sox leaving their mark on a player.

"It’s very loose, free," the second baseman said. "Alex wants his player to play free and he doesn’t try and get in the way of the players playing the game. If a guy works to get to a 3-0 count he should have the ability to swing at it. I think that just shows he trusts his player. Swing 3-0. You don’t bunt. We run a lot. Making outs is not a deterrent. It’s not going to stop us from trying to run. There is no scared baseball in here. That’s refreshing because in my opinion that’s the way you’re supposed to play the game. When you start looking over the shoulder and you start worrying about what question someone is going to ask you or what someone is going to say or you start worrying about your mistakes this game can become difficult. Since I was a young kid I was taught you don’t play the game to make mistakes. You play the game hard and you use your instincts and if you make a mistake you learn from it. For me that’s baseball. That’s kind of what Alex preaches and it’s a lot of fun to play that style.

"I’ve played on teams like that before. (Former Texas manager) Ron Washington managed that way. But other than that it’s few and far between. For me personally, it’s just a great feeling to be able to play the game that way. I’m going to make mistakes. Everyone in here is going to make mistakes. That’s just the nature of baseball. It’s a difficult game. But if play and you hesitate you’re going to make more mistakes. You’re not going to make the great player and you’re not going to change somehow because you’re always thinking about the negative of your action instead of the positive of your action. For me, that’s the way I like to play baseball and is very comfortable for me."

It's not as if the Red Sox didn't give up anything for Kinsler, with Ty Buttrey holding his own (7 1/3 innings, run) in his introduction to the major leagues with the Angels. But for what Cora and Co. needed -- much better defense at second base without sacrificing offense -- the 36-year-old has fit the bill.

"You know from the other side watching the way they play that this team plays very loose," he said. "They put a lot of pressure on other teams. It's fun to be a part of."

Nathan Eovaldi bounced back to turn in a slightly more encouraging outing three days after his disaster in Chicago. The Sox starter didn't allow a run over 3 1/3 innings, giving up two hits. He did, however, walk four while throwing 86 pitches.