Red Sox rally powered 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 scheduled for Friday, the Boston Red Sox still had not revealed their roster card. A positive COVID-19 test forced a roster reshuffle that required two players to rush from Buffalo, where the Triple-A WooSox were playing, to join the Cleveland squad. Yairo Muñoz and Jonathan Araúz validated protocols with rapid COVID tests just in time to be included in the programming. Good thing they did since the latter turned out to be a hero that night.
Frustration mounted as the new lineup battled 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 worker limited Boston to one point on a six-innings hit in what was by far his best start to the season.
The Boston Bats would have their chance to redeem themselves against the Cleveland bullpen. Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning, the Red Sox finally fought back against reliever James Karinchak. A goal from Christian Vazquez and a hit from Jarren Duran set the table for Araúz.
Considering the Red Sox’s difficulty in stringing hits, playing a small ball with lightweight Araúz was a good strategy. The No. 9 batter was sent to home plate to cushion, sacrificing himself to put the tie-breakers in position to score for the top of the order.
Araúz failed to drop the ball on the third pitch he saw falling behind in the 1-2 count. The appeal of the ball had to be erased, as a new foul of the ball with two strikes would result in an out that would not displace the runners. Araúz had to pivot to swing the bat and the change of plan couldn’t have worked better.
After shooting the full count, Araúz connected on a 96 mph fastball, leading it to right field for a three-run homerun.
To say that this winning home run was unexpected would be an understatement. It was only Araúz’s second career home run in 115 home plate appearances. He’s only had six home runs in 226 home plate appearances with Triple-A Worcester this season.
Perhaps more surprising than getting a clutch home run from a player who has shown limited power in his brief career is bringing it in from a player who didn’t know not that 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 had exceptional production from its No.9 forwards in the last two games. Thursday, the seven RBIs of Bobby Dalbec tied a franchise record for the greatest number of races conducted from the bottom of the order. Araúz followed with a winning home run the following night.
Araúz hasn’t spent much time in the big leagues this season and he will likely be sent back to the minors as soon as Kike Hernandez or Christian Arroyo returns from COVID-IL. However, he certainly makes the most of this opportunity and his late-game exploits will leave a lasting impression that could lead to more opportunities down the line.