Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Red Sox 9, Yankees 6: Why all the comebacks?

Rob Bradford
August 19, 2017 - 1:00 am

Mitch Moreland stood at first base a happy man. The usually stoic southerner couldn't contain his joy this time, wearing the kind of smile that he clearly saves for special occasions.

That's what happens when you do what Moreland did: rip a pinch-hit single up the middle, driving in a pair of runners and completing a game-changing comeback on the way to a 9-6 win for the Red Sox over the Yankees, Friday night at before a jubilant Fenway Park crowd. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' win, click here.)

"In that situation, coming off the bench, being 0-2 and making something happen, yeah, it's definitely a big moment and something that brings a smile to your face," explained Moreland, who is the majors' best pinch-hitter (.459 batting average) since 2014. "I was trying to enjoy it. I was just fired up. they were fired up. It was in the moment."

It's the kind of instance that has become common-place for these Red Sox after months of seemingly slogging through life in and around the top of the American League East.

But this is a different time, a seemingly different team. And, this time, Moreland's seventh-inning, two-out single was the latest punctuation.

The Red Sox, who had fallen behind by three runs thanks to two in the sixth and four in the seventh by the Yankees, managed their 31st come-from-behind win to build their lead over the second-place Yanks to five games. The impetus this time was a four-run seventh, followed by two more against the suddenly struggling New York closer Aroldis Chapman in the eighth.

So, why John Farrell's team keeps executing these comebacks? 

Sure, a good chunk has to do with mindset.

"One hundred percent," said Red Sox reliever Addison Reed when asked if he thought another comeback was brewing. "I've been here for two weeks and I think I've seen it five or six times where we've been down by multiple runs. Not one person is panicking. Not one person is pressing. Everyone is just kind of going out there. It's almost like everybody in the dugout knows it's just a matter of time before we score those runs and come back."

But what makes it possible is that this team can now actually hit.

"A lot of different ways to generate runs," said Farrell. "I Love the fact that there’s quality at-bats up and down the lineup. We’re going to take opportunities to advance 90 feet. It’s just the tenacity of the group as a whole. This has really been shown over the last -- once we turned into the month of August, the offense has turned it on. It’s not any one guy. You look at the bottom third of the lineup and it’s deep, it’s been productive and it’s not one guy. There’s contributions up and down the lineup."

Moreland has been one of those pieces that have gone a long way to sending the Red Sox off on their 13 wins in 15 games stretch. In hias lasat 11 games at Fenway, he's hitting .371. And, of course, there's rookie Rafael Devers, who hit his seventh homer in 19 games (joining Ron Swoboda of the 1965 Mets as the only players to manage the feat before turning 21). It also doesn't hurt that the third baseman doesn't need to be platooned as originally planned, managing a .429 average and 1.216 OPS against lefties so far.

Xander Bogaerts' double extended his Fenway hit streak to 11 games, while Christian Vazquez hit another home run at home, where he is hitting .381. And Andrew Benintendi has become a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter, as was evident once again with his two-out RBI single to keep the rally going in the seventh.

What it all adds up to his a club that isn't relying on a death-by-singles strategy, anymore. This is a Red Sox lineup that leads the American League with 6.27 runs per game over its last 15 games. This is a Red Sox lineup that has hit multiple homers for the ninth time in 14 games this month afer managing the feat just seven times in 27 July games. This is a Red Sox lineup that actually offeres its opponents some anxiety.

And that is a big reason why these feel-good comebacks have become a reality.

"We have a lot of faith in one another," said Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "We feel like if one person doesn’t get the job done, we feel like the next person will. And when you have that faith in each other, you put together some great things."

Andrew Benintendi made one of the better catches of the season, robbing Didi Gregorius to lead off the fourth inning.

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