While Eduardo Rodriguez will likely be very happy to see the calendar turn to June, Hunter Renfroe is probably hoping his May would never end.
The right fielder was the lone bright spot in the Red Sox’ 11-2 blowout loss to the Astros, as he finished his strong month with another productive performance. Renfroe was responsible for both of the Sox’ runs, hitting a leadoff double in the sixth and coming around to score before smoking a solo homer in the eighth.
Renfroe, who now has multi-hit performances in each of his last four games, came alive at the plate in May after a slow start in April. He finished the month hitting .319 with six homers and 15 RBI, a much-needed and significant boost to the bottom of the order. Though he’s still in search of consistency against right-handed pitchers — he was hitting .208 with a .610 OPS against them before his two hits on Monday — he’s been an easy inclusion into Alex Cora’s lineup card with his strong numbers at the plate paired with his defense in right field.
“He’s made some adjustments,” Cora said. “He’s actually been more disciplined, although he’s not walking that much, but he’s controlling the at-bat and this guy, he’s a gamer. We know what he brings to the equation defensively but when he’s locked in, it’s fun to watch. He crushed that ball but besides the home run, he’s controlling his at-bats and we’re very pleased where he’s at offensively right now.”
A rare quiet day
Other than Renfroe, the Red Sox didn’t generate much at the plate in Monday’s loss against Astros starter José Urquidy, who held them to just three hits over six innings. The Red Sox didn’t have a base runner until J.D. Martinez drew a two-out walk in the fourth and didn’t record a hit until Christian Vazquez’s two-out double in the fifth.
The Red Sox struck out 12 times, including nine against Urquidy, as they failed to put the ball in play and create competitive at-bats.
“Today that guy was really good,” Cora said of Urquidy. “He did a good job elevating, he did a good job expanding the zone with the off-speed stuff. We don’t like to strike out. We know when we are clicking, putting the ball in play, we didn’t have too much traffic either so it was hard to score runs, but we don’t like it. We don’t like it.
“We have to control the zone. We like to swing, we know that, but at the same time when we are able to control the strike zone that doesn’t happen. Today he did a good job of expanding us up and expanding down and I think it was a good afternoon for him.”
A unique home run
Jose Altuve looked like he might have just hit a routine fly ball when he made contact with a Rodriguez changeup in the third, but it somehow left the yard in what was something of an unlucky homer given up by the Red Sox lefty.
The ball hit the front of the Crawford Boxes — the short left-field porch at Minute Maid Park — and popped up for a homer that measured 330 feet. According to Statcast, the ball would have only gone out at two ballparks in baseball — Minute Maid Park and Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.
“You’re not going to see an uglier home run the rest of the season,” a bewildered Dennis Eckersley said on the NESN broadcast. “Look at this swing. If that’s not a Minute Maid home run … that’s frightening.”
Cordero starts hot
It’s a small sample size, but Franchy Cordero is hitting well since his demotion to Triple-A Worcester late last week. The outfielder is 5-for-12 (.417) with a pair of homers and five RBI in three games for the WooSox. The early results are certainly encouraging for Cordero, who’s getting much-needed consistent at-bats after missing the start of spring training and struggling over the first two months.
“Although he’s important for us in the present, he’s very important for us in the future,” Cora said last week. “He hasn’t played a lot the last few years. For him to go down there and get at-bats, consistent at-bats, keep improving his swing decisions and controlling the strike zone, it’s very important. …
“The thought process is we need him to get better. We need him to get at-bats. … He’s going to continue to play every day down there. He’ll play in left, some right, too. I think that’s going to benefit him in the long run.” …
Red Sox prospects Jarren Duran and Triston Casas were both in the lineup for Team USA in their first Baseball Americas Olympic qualifying game on Monday against Nicaragua. Duran was batting second and playing center field, while Casas was seventh in the lineup and playing first base.