Where would the Red Sox be without Mitch Moreland? You *really* don't want to know


Without Mitch Moreland, we might be trying to ring members of the 1988 Orioles to reminisce about historic baseball futility.

Those O's started 0-21, and a legitimate case can be made that Moreland is all that stands between the defending World Series champion Red Sox being 0-13 instead of 4-9.

On Thursday night, Moreland maintained his torrid start by slamming a pair of game-tying hits: a solo homer in the seventh and a booming double in the ninth before the Red Sox walked off the Blue Jays for a much-needed 7-6 victory.

"Mitch has meant a ton," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "He's always coming up in a big spot, and he's always coming through for us."

Think the 0-13 thing is hyperbole? Think again. Consider Moreland's contributions to Boston's four victories:

* His pinch-hit three-run homer in the second game of the season erased a 6-4 deficit against the Mariners and propelled the Red Sox to a 7-6 victory.

* His two-run double in the sixth inning against Oakland on April 3 tied a game the Red Sox would eventually win with the help of a fortuitous bounce off the third base bag in the ninth.

* Four days later, Moreland's solo homer in the seventh provided the only run in a 1-0 victory over Arizona.

Four wins, five massive hits from Moreland. It's terrifying to think where the Red Sox would be without their 2018 All-Star.

"We talked about it today," said manager Alex Cora. "He's been solid, balanced, swinging at strikes, swinging in the zone. Today they threw the fastball in the zone and he didn't chase it. He's in a good place."

The 33-year-old is hitting .275 with a team-leading five homers, 12 RBIs, and a 1.106 OPS. Nine of his 11 hits are for extra bases.

His game-tying at-bat against Blue Jays closer Ken Giles was particularly impressive, with Moreland fouling off a pair of upper-90's fastballs above the zone before getting one just a hair lower and pulverizing it.

"He was obviously locked in, because those are pitches that are tough to get to," Pedroia said. "When he gets to them, it kind of sets everything else up, so it was nice."
Moreland deflected the praise.

"I'm sure (the first two fastballs) were out of the zone," he said. "Just up there trying to fight. I know he's got a good heater and he's got a pretty good slider too. Just trying to get something that I put a good swing on. I still think that one was probably top of the zone. I was able to get the barrel to it."

A year ago, Moreland made his first All-Star team before tailing off badly in the second half because of injuries. He was hitting .273 with an .842 OPS when he hurt his knee in Baltimore. The injury only sidelined him for three games, but after he returned on July 28, he hit just .190 the rest of the way with a .594 OPS.

Fully healthy, he's now carrying the offense alongside slugger J.D. Martinez.

"I don't think I'm carrying it," Moreland insisted. "I think that was a hard-fought game from everybody. To come back and score three after they got ahead of us with five runs is nice to do that and give us a chance to kind of fight back and get us back into the game. Just to keep grinding it out and create opportunities to win it, it was a big win for us."

All five of Moreland's homers have either tied the game or given the Red Sox the lead, which is about as clutch as it gets.

"Yeah, that's what this team does," he said. "If it's not me, it would be somebody else. We're able to grind it out. Obviously it hasn't went quite our way so far this year, but we've got a great group of guys, we've got a good team, we're going to get it going, we just have to keep grinding it out and have good at-bats and create opportunities."

No one has capitalized on those opportunities more than Moreland, and it's a good thing for the Red Sox, or we might be trying to reach Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, and Larry Sheets for comment.

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