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Alex Cora preaches fielding the ball after Red Sox sweep Rays

Red Sox

The Red Sox are on a four-game winning streak and their hitting is coming to life during that streak.

Alex Cora’s Red Sox team has won four straight. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

After the first two games of the Red Sox’s latest road trip, Alex Cora and a few hitters expressed disappointment with their team’s recent struggles at the plate. They had good reason to feel that way, too, scoring just two runs in a loss to the Cardinals on Saturday as they lost their fourth straight game.

Fast forward four days and the Red Sox offense has flipped the script. They notched their fourth straight victory on Wednesday, beating the Rays, 8-5, to secure their first sweep against their division rival at Tropicana Field since 2019.

Boston’s offense woke up during these four games. He scored at least five points in every outing and averaged more than seven points per game during the winning streak.

The most important thing for Alex Cora is how they scored those points. Six of Wednesday’s eight runs resulted from hits on put balls rather than home runs. In fact, the Red Sox’ five-run fifth inning was the result of five singles, a walk and a hit by pitch.

That’s the kind of approach Cora wants his hitters to take at the plate.

“We did a lot of good things throughout the road trip, but we put the ball on the line and it all started in St. Louis,” Cora told reporters after Wednesday’s win. “Hit on the field, shot on the field, and we scored a lot of them. In this business, everyone wants to hit the ball out of the ballpark. There are times when we have to put the ball in play – and we did. (Ceddane Rafaela) did it. (Dom Smith) did it. It started with a march and we put pressure on them. We handled the basics extremely well today.

The majority of the Red Sox’s runs during the brief winning streak came simply from fielding the ball rather than hitting home runs. Seven of their 11 runs in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals came on a single, double or fielder’s choice. While four of their five runs in Monday’s 5-0 win over the Rays came via a home run, three of their five runs on Tuesday came on a single or stolen base.

With the Red Sox recording 36 hits over their last four games, Cora wants to see those hits carry over to their next homestand.

“The value of putting the ball in play, that was huge today,” Cora said. “We’re going to continue to preach that. I know some people probably hated it, but I’m the manager. I ask this of my players because it is important. A third man with less than two outs, you have to cash in. You saw what happened earlier in the match. We had a guy on third down and we didn’t score.

So far, the Red Sox haven’t played very well at Fenway, holding a 10-13 home record in 2024. Their hitting has been particularly tough at home, posting a .235 batting average and an OPS .693 as a team. They also hit just 21 home runs in 23 home games, averaging just 4.04 runs per home outing. For reference, this mark would rank 21st in the majors this season.

But Cora seems to sense a possible breakthrough coming for the Red Sox 26-24 after their sweep of the Rays, who took them three of four at Fenway Park last week.

“We played well against them last week,” Cora said. “We just didn’t win the games, two more games. … Keep working hard, keep going and be ready for Friday.

Boston

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