Before their thrilling extra innings win over the Rangers Monday that included a walk-off grand slam from Travis Shaw, the Red Sox had a player only team meeting.
“I’m not sure who called it but yeah, we had a meeting,” said Nathan Eovaldi, who went seven strong innings only allowing one run on Monday. “We talked about it and that stuff stays in the clubhouse, but I think it helps us out and we we’re able to get some things off of our chest.”
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the players had a team meeting, after they were blown out by the Rangers, 10-1, on Saturday in the midst of an 7-15 stretch since July 28.
“I stay out of the clubhouse,” said manager Alex Cora when asked about the meeting.
Outfielder Alex Verdugo says the Red Sox stressed energy during the team meeting.
“Energy. That’s the biggest thing,” said Verdugo. “Obviously the players, we had a little player meeting, we’re gonna keep that in house for the most part, but the biggest thing to come from it is we wanna have the boys energized. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if something good is happening, something bad is happening, it just feels good to hear that when you’re in the box and you hear your guys cheer you on from the dugout, it makes that hitter lock in a little bit more.”
Verdugo went 3-for-4 on the day with a two-run homer, as well as a walk. The outfielder had a stretch in July where he was struggling mightily, but has gone 19-for-15 (.352/410/.537) with two homers in his past 15 games.
“That little ball talk that might people might overlook or think, ‘That’s what little leaguers do,’ — that’s what brings energy,” Verdugo added. “That’s what gets it going. Like I said, when I’m hitting and I’m hearing guys cheering me on from my dugout, and I take a foul ball and miss it and they’re like, ‘You got it boy! You’re right on it!’, it fires you up. It gives you a little bit more adrenaline, it makes you wanna get that next pitch even more. The biggest thing is just, us as players just wanting to get together, talk, and that’s all that really matters for us. We’re out there as players and we’re giving it our all 162 games a year.”
In early July, the Red Sox held a comfortable lead in the division, with the Yankees not anywhere in sight. Now, the Red Sox are 6.5 games back of the Rays and are in the second playoff spot by a mere 0.5 games. They also sit 2 games back of the Yankees, who hold the first wild card spot, and are currently on a nine-game winning streak.
“We just felt like it was the right time, and we feel like it was what the boys needed,” Verdugo said, “and obviously coming out today and having a big win is huge.”
The 25-year-old outfielder acquired in the Mookie Betts/David Price deal is known to both have and show emotion on the baseball diamond. But he says he’s toned down his energy, but does give a reminder that he will still be emotional at times.
“I do feel like for an emotional stand point, I feel like I’m less one way or the other,” said Verdugo. “I’m kinda more fluctuating in the middle. I try not to get too high, I try not to get too low, try not to get too mad, try not to get too excited. But at the end of the day, big moments are big moments. In the ninth inning, if I don’t get the job done, I’m still gonna be angry. If I get the job done in the ninth inning, I’m still gonna be excited. For me I probably toned it up just a little bit, but it’s still in there — that little wild guy — still in there. Just gotta make sure he doesn’t come out too much.”
Boston captured the series victory with the win, and move to 71-55 on the season. They’ll host the Minnesota Twins for a three-game, midweek series before travelling to Cleveland to take on the Indians for a three-game weekend series. Then, they’ll take on the Rays in what will likely be one of, if not the most crucial series of the season.
“It’s nice to win a series, especially coming off of the tough series in New York,” said Travis Shaw, who blasted a walk-off grand slam to win it Monday. “For us, guys are grinding. Guys are frustrated a little bit, but I think anytime you win a series it’s starting off on the right foot. We kinda turned the page after New York — it’s a good start, and hopefully we can continue that this week against Minnesota.”
(Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)