Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports

Red Sox 10, Yankees 5: Andrew Benintendi to the rescue

Rob Bradford
August 12, 2017 - 11:46 pm

Andrew Benintendi hitting a pair of home runs in Yankee Stadium with his Brooklyn-born, almost-85-year-old grandfather in attendance was a nice story Saturday. Dr. Robert Benintendi was undoubtedly proud.

"He was a Yankees fan, not anymore," the Red Sox outfielder told reporters after his team's 10-5 win over the Yankees. "Everybody else grew up Reds because I’m from Cincinnati." (For a complete recap of the Sox' win, click here.)

And the fact that Benintendi became the first rookie in Major League Baseball history to hit a pair of three-run homers against the Yankees, while joining Jimmie Foxx as the only Red Sox accomplish the feat against the New Yorkers, was certainly something.

"I didn't know that," Benintendi told reporters. "I guess that's cool."

But what Benintendi has been doing means much more than just a one-day round of feel-good stories.

It was stated in this corner that, even after the Yankees' shock and awe trade deadline, if some of the anchors in the Red Sox' lineup hit along the lines of what many expected they would coming into this season John Farrell's team would get the better of New York. That's what is what is starting to happen, thanks in large part to Benintendi.

As a jumping off point, here is what Bill James projected for the rookie outfielder: 147 games, 551 at-bats, 160 hits, 38 doubles, 5 triples, 12 home runs, 73 RBI, 87 runs, .290 batting average, .352 OBP, .443 slugging, .794 OPS, 85 runs created, 5.5 runs created per 27 outs, 51 walks, 72 strikeouts, 21 stolen bases, 11 caught stealing, 66 stolen base percentage.

This is where Benintendi stands heading into Sunday: 111 hits, 17 doubles, triple, 16 homers, 65 RBI, 59 runs, .280 batting average, .359 OPS, .448 slugging, .808 OPS, 49 walks, 77 strikeouts, 14 stolen bases, three caught stealing.

Congratulations Mr. James, you appear to have been in the ballpark.

And in order for the Red Sox' post-David Ortiz blueprint to have worked (offensively, anyway), some of these 20-somethings making up the heart of the Red Sox' lineup better live up to James' expectations. Before August, that was trending toward being a problem. Now? Benintendi is helping makes dreams a reality. Saturday's blowout was another example of that.

During this run in which the Red Sox have won eight of their last nine, Benintendi has done exactly what the doctor ordered, hitting .484 with a 1.508 OPS and four home runs. Heading into the stretch, this was a guy whose batting average stood at a paltry .262, including a .224 batting average and .566 OPS against lefties. Now, he's hitting, and the Red Sox are winning. Not a coincidence.

"Since a couple days down to just clear his mind like we've talked about, he's been right in the middle of a lot of offensive big innings for us," Farrell told reporters. "Today, two beautiful swings for the six RBI."

There are a few others chipping in, as well. Mookie Betts has been good enough during the nine games (.289 batting average, .793 OPS), while Mitch Moreland has started to rekindle his extra-base prowess (.913 OPS since July 31). But Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hanley Ramirez were also perceived to be part of the equation and really haven't managed much consistency throughout the stretch. That has to also change.

We know Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez have been huge during the march to this 4 1/2-game lead, with the duo combining to hit .360 during their brief lives as Red Sox. But particularly with the loss of Dustin Pedroia, who had been the club's best offensive performer before his knee derailed the second baseman's season, this team needed something more than just a few key additions. It needed the good Benintendi.

And that's exactly what the Red Sox have gotten.

Drew Pomeranz was good again, allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings to pick up his 12th win.

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