New opponent, new uniforms, new hero.
Three other newcomers left their mark on Saturday, too. Adam Ottavino struck out the side in the eighth, his finest outing in a Red Sox jersey — albeit a bright yellow one designed to match the color scheme of the Boston Marathon for Patriots’ Day weekend. Kiké Hernández went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Matt Andriese allowed only one unearned run in three innings to help bridge the gap after Nick Pivetta couldn’t get through the fourth.
“It gets loud here when things are not going good; it gets louder when things are going really good,” manager Alex Cora said. “They know how it works; they’ve played against us before. They understand how it goes here. They have to cancel the noise outside Fenway, and it’s good for them to contribute right away during the season. They’re a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Boston’s longest-tenured player also had himself a day, as Xander Bogaerts went 4-for-5, raising his average to .412 this season. His two-run double capped Boston’s four-run eighth, giving Matt Barnes some breathing room in the ninth.
“It was a total team effort,” Cora said.
The Red Sox have now won 10 of 11 games, improving to 10-4.
“We feel really good about our chances each and every day,” Andriese said. “It’s next man up; it’s going to take all 26 guys.”
Neither Pivetta nor Chicago starter Dylan Cease were particularly sharp Saturday, though neither team was able to take advantage of its opportunities. The game was tied 2-2 after five innings, and after the Red Sox took a lead in the sixth, the White Sox answered with a run in the seventh, sending the 3-3 game to the eighth.
Ottavino, who struggled with a 9.82 ERA in his first five outings with Boston, came in and struck out the side as Yermín Mercedes, Zack Collins and Luis Robert each looked at called third strikes.
Gonzalez, who hadn’t gotten off to a great start himself, stepped to the plate to lead off the eighth in search of his first extra-base hit of 2021. He wasn’t thinking about going deep, setting a more reasonable goal of simply getting on base — something he had done at a .357 clip this season despite his paltry .212 average.
“I was just trying to have a good at-bat and get a good pitch to hit,” Gonzalez said. “I’m trying to get on base for my teammates behind me, try to create a rally.”
Heuer started the at-bat with a pair of changeups, but his 1-1 sinker didn’t fool Gonzalez, who turned on the waist-high 96 mph pitch and launched it to center field. The ball landed in the Red Sox bullpen for a 4-3 lead, kick-starting what would become a four-run Boston eighth.
“Right now he’s not hitting for average, but you see his on-base percentage; he knows the strike zone, he knows when to get to a fastball,” Cora said. “He’s into the game the whole time, in the dugout talking to guys; for the short time that he’s been here, it’s been amazing the way people gravitate to him in that clubhouse. It’s fun to watch.”
These days, fun seems to be contagious for the Red Sox, who became the first team in the American League to reach the 10-win mark this season.
“Every time you win, you have the confidence and everybody’s positive,” Gonzalez said. “Things are easier when you’re winning. It’s easy to go out there and get things done when everybody’s on the same page and everybody’s positive.”