Red Sox rally fueled by unexpected hero Jonathan Araúz
Jonathan Araúz saved the day for the Red Sox with a late rally
About 20 minutes before the first pitch was scheduled on Friday, the Boston Red Sox still hadn’t revealed their lineup card. A positive COVID-19 test forced a roster shuffle that required two players to rush from Buffalo, where the Triple-A WooSox were playing, to join the team in Cleveland. Yairo Muñoz and Jonathan Araúz cleared protocols with rapid COVID tests just in time to be included in the lineup. It’s a good thing they made it since the latter turned out to be a hero that night.
Frustration was mounting as the new-look lineup struggled against Cleveland Indians starter Logan Allen, who entered the game with a 9.13 ERA and hadn’t reached five innings in a game since April. The former Red Sox farm-hand held Boston to one run on one hit over six innings in what was easily his best start of the season.
Boston’s bats would get their chance at redemption against Cleveland’s bullpen. Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning, the Red Sox finally struck back against reliever James Karinchak. A leadoff walk from Christian Vazquez and a base hit from Jarren Duran set the table for Araúz.
Considering how much trouble the Red Sox were having stringing together hits, playing a bit of small ball with the light-hitting Araúz was a sound strategy. The No. 9 hitter was sent to the plate to bunt, sacrificing himself to put the tying runs in scoring position for the top of the order.
Araúz failed to get the bunt down on the third pitch he saw to fall behind in the count 1-2. The bunt call had to be wiped away since bunting the ball foul again with two strikes would result in an out that doesn’t move the runners over. Araúz had to pivot to swinging the bat and the change in plans couldn’t have worked out any better.
After drawing the count full, Araúz connected on a 96 mph fastball up and in, driving it to right field for a three-run homer.
To say that this game-winning home run was unexpected would be an understatement. It was only the second career home run for Araúz in 115 plate appearances. He only had six homers in 226 plate appearances with Triple-A Worcester this season.
Perhaps more surprising than getting a clutch home run from a player who has displayed a limited amount of power in his brief career is having it come from a player who didn’t know he would be on the major league roster until about six hours before the game when he was told to get on a bus to Cleveland.
Boston has been getting outstanding production from their No. 9 hitters in the last two games. On Thursday, Bobby Dalbec‘s seven RBI tied a franchise record for the most runs driven in from the bottom spot in the order. Araúz followed with a game-winning homer the next night.
Araúz hasn’t spent much time in the big leagues this season and he’ll probably be sent back to the minors as soon as Kike Hernandez or Christian Arroyo return from the COVID-IL. He’s certainly making the most out of this opportunity though and his late game heroics will leave a lasting impression that could lead to other opportunities down the line.