Red Sox-Tigers takeaways: Boston's bats wake up in comeback win

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The Boston Red Sox overcame a sluggish start to take down the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, 5-3.

Rich Hill took the mound for the first start of his third stint with Boston. The 42-year-old allowed three runs on five hits through 4.1 innings while striking out four Tigers hitters. His counterpart, Tyler Alexander, exited after 5.1 innings of work with five hits and three runs allowed.

Tomase: How Rich Hill earned his colorful game-day nickname

Rafael Devers stayed hot with a 3-for-5, two-RBI day. Kiké Hernandez, J.D. Martinez and Christian Arroyo also knocked in runs for Boston.

Here are three instant takeaways from the Red Sox' win as they improve to 2-3 on the young season. They'll settle the series Wednesday as Nathan Eovaldi goes head-to-head with former Sox teammate Eduardo Rodriguez.

Red Sox bats show signs of life

It's been a less-than-ideal start to the season for Boston's offense. It entered Tuesday's action ranking 29th in batting average (.173), 21st in runs scored (12), 27th in hits (23), and 28th in OPS (.551) through four games.

Monday's loss to the Tigers in Game 1 of the three-game set didn't help those numbers. The Red Sox were only able to muster four hits on Detroit's pitching staff with only one of them coming against starter Matt Manning. That lackluster effort led to a 3-1 defeat.

It was more of the same through the first five innings of Game 2. Tigers southpaw Tyler Alexander was perfect through three innings and kept Boston off the scoreboard until the sixth.

The Red Sox rally was sparked by a Hernandez RBI double, which marked the center fielder's first hit of the campaign. Devers drove Hernandez home with a single, and Martinez tied the ballgame at 3 with an RBI double of his own.

Devers put Boston ahead in the eighth with a single to center that scored Hernandez. Arroyo came through an RBI single for the insurance run.

Contributions from Hernandez and Arroyo were an encouraging sign for a Sox lineup that's been noticeably top-heavy to begin the year. They'll hope to carry this momentum into Wednesday's finale in Detroit and their home opener Friday vs. Minnesota.

Garrett Whitlock saves the day

Garrett Whitlock might not be the team's official closer, but he doesn't need a title to prove his immense value to this Red Sox bullpen. The right-hander, who recently signed a four-year contract extension, pitched an almost-perfect four innings to finish off the win.

While it's encouraging to see Whitlock pick up where he left off last season, a four-inning relief appearance shows just how little faith manager Alex Cora has in his bullpen. After Monday's debacle, he opted to roll with the only trustworthy arm available. Mission accomplished, but it isn't exactly something to be optimistic about long-term.

Hirokazu Sawamura also made an appearance out of the 'pen as Hill's replacement in the fifth inning. He did his job as the bridge to Whitlock, finishing off the frame without incident.

Spotlight shines on right field situation

Rather than adding a natural right fielder in the offseason, the Red Sox chose to go with a combination of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Arroyo at the position. Through the first five games of the year, it looks like they may want to rethink that decision.

Arroyo was thrown into the fire despite his lack of outfield experience, which was on display Tuesday. A couple of misjudged plays helped to spark Detroit's offense early on.

As for Bradley, he remains a liability at the plate. The Gold Glover is 0-for-9 through four games this season.

It's still early, so perhaps Arroyo will improve defensively with more reps. If not, it's fair to wonder whether some roster moves need to be made. Former Mets right fielder Michael Conforto is still a free-agent option while speedy outfield prospect Jarren Duran stands out as a potential call-up.

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