Benny and the Sox are back to being all smiles after a two home run performance by the rookie. (Photo courtesy AP)
Ben Whitehead Contributing writer
A slump that saw Andrew Benintendi's batting average fall from .339 to .259 in less than a month was busted Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. Benintendi went 3-for-4 with a pair of homers, three RBIs, and three runs scored to lead Boston to a 7-3 win, earning the Red Sox a four-game split with the birds. The win gave the Sox a 1.5-game Wild Card lead on Baltimore and, coupled with the New York Yankees loss, pulled Boston within two games of the Bronx Bombers for first in the East.
The rookie outfielder has come under fire of late, most wondering if he's ready to take on a clean-up hitter role in Beantown. Of course, many of those same folks were the ones writing him in for Rookie of the Year back in January. He's taken it in stride, put his head down, and is working to make adjustments to big-league pitching.
He launched two homers Sunday. He had two homers the entire month of May, none since May 7, and only three in April. Prior to Sunday, his last multi-hit game took place nearly two weeks ago on May 23 against Texas. The last time he had a multi-RBI game was May 9 and he'd only driven in five runs since then.
Yes, I know it was just one game. But if you're going to break out of a slump, you flex those Benny Biceps and slug two out of the park.
Like many on the Sox roster, Benintendi is still trying to figure out his role. With Dustin Pedroia out, that makes two big leadership voids the youngsters are dealing with - Pedey being the main one right now, but the other is the elephant in the room, no Big Papi. That's put a lot of strain on Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Benintendi to seek out leadership, or try to be leaders themselves.
This is probably another story for another day, so we'll save it for now. Back to Benintendi.
He's back and he's going to prove with a vengeance that his slump was nothing more than what every ballplayer goes through. Bad games, bad weeks, even bad months happen.
It was clear Sunday, however, that Benintendi is back to being comfortable in the box and has found his swing again. As the weather heats up, expect Benintendi and the rest of the Sox to follow suit.
Now would be a great time for that to happen. Two of Boston's next four series are against the AL East (Yankees) and AL West (Astros) division leaders, both on the road.
The Sox need someone to come through in the clutch. It looks like Benintendi will be that guy. Not something we would have said before Sunday.