Tomase: This Red Sox turnaround has been a true collective effort originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
It's easy to look at Tuesday's Red Sox box score and assume that a 6-1 victory over the Oakland A's was powered primarily by the pitching of Nick Pivetta and the slugging of Rafael Devers.
And it's not like you'd be wrong. Pivetta delivered eight dominant innings in furtherance of his role as Official Bullpen Saver, and Devers launched another mammoth home run, this one a three-run shot over the bullpen that spelled goodnight for Boston's other Bay Area visitors.
But there was so much else going on, just as there has been throughout this remarkable turnaround, which has seen the Red Sox not only reach .500 and move into wild card position, but pull within 2.5 games of the Rays and 3.5 games of the Blue Jays in the division with showdowns against each looming.
The Red Sox have very quietly regained their whatever-it-takes ethos of 2021, which carried them to within two games of the World Series. That's a massive development after a miserable April.
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On Tuesday, that meant Devers hustling to beat out a double play chopper, allowing the Red Sox to scratch out an immediate run for their best pitcher in the first inning.
It meant Rob Refsnyder, recalled primarily for his defense, making not only a great running catch in front of the center-field garage door, but also recording three hits in place of injured leadoff man Kiké Hernández.
It meant turning a pair of double plays, including a 5-3 game-ender started by the newly reliable Devers at third base.
In short, it meant doing everything that has propelled the team very much back into the American League playoff race.
"Especially the way Nick was throwing today, we all just wanted to make some plays," Refsnyder said. "It's nice to get that first one of the series out of the way. Nick's been great. He's just been fantastic. It's fun to watch and fun to play defense for him."
Since a 10-19 start, the hottest team in baseball is 23-10. The Red Sox have won 10 of their last 12, primarily against AL West competition, and they've won in multiple ways.
During their 8-2 road trip, the Red Sox won two 1-0 games over the Angels. One of them was a three-hit shutout from Michael Wacha. The other required four relievers to throw four innings in relief of Nathan Eovaldi.
They beat the Mariners 2-0 behind an absurd Devers homer on an 0-2 pitch a foot off the plate, a brilliant diving catch from Refsnyder in right-center, and five one-hit innings from emergency starter Kutter Crawford.
They outslugged the A's with 24 hits and 15 runs in consecutive games. They threw four shutouts, including at least one in each city. They even won in extra innings for just the second time in eight tries.
Devers, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts have been three of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last month, but they haven't had to do it alone. Catcher Christian Vazquez is hitting .317 in that time, and Jackie Bradley Jr. is at .277. Franchy Cordero carried them for a stretch before slumping. Bobby Dalbec has since picked him up with two homers in his last four games.
They're getting just enough production from beyond the Big Three on a nightly basis that it doesn't matter that streaky Trevor Story has cooled after a scorching May. Of course, Story might still be the poster boy for their turnaround, because he has spearheaded the transformation of their infield defense from basically the worst in baseball to a top-10 unit. And he's also a difference maker with his legs, not just with a team-leading eight steals in as many chances, but also by only making one out on the bases.
The Red Sox will need to weather the storm with starters Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock injured, but outside of a Hansel Robles meltdown in Seattle, their maligned bullpen has found its way, too. The Red Sox own a 2.01 team ERA over the last two weeks, and it's not just because of the starters. Tanner Houck, John Schreiber, and Austin Davis have combined to throw 16 shutout innings, with Houck inching into the closer's role. Jake Diekman, Tyler Danish, and Matt Strahm have been reliable, too.
Add it all together, and the Red Sox feel like a team capable of riding a different hero every night. That's a team with staying power.