BOSTON — In his 33rd game in a Red Sox uniform, Trevor Story finally provided some gratification to a team that signed him to a $140-million contract but hasn’t had much to show for it.
Story had the night of all nights on Thursday, when he reached base all five times and finished 4-for-4 with three home runs, five runs, seven RBIs, a walk and a stolen base to lead the Sox to a come-from-behind 12-6 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Rich Hill had a rough outing to put the Sox behind 4-0 in the second inning, but Story got two back in the bottom of the second with a long fly over the center-field wall, then two more to tie the game in a third inning on a blast over the Green Monster. He added a majestic three-run shot over the Monster in the eighth for good measure.
It marked his first multi-homer game in a Sox uniform, and easily the best game of his tenure in Boston.
1. What a Story
It’s no coincidence that the Red Sox offense turned a corner in the second inning against the Braves last Tuesday, around the same time Story started heating up at the plate.
Story had been booed off the Fenway Park field a few days earlier, when he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts against Shohei Ohtani. The Sox offense was stuck in the mud, having scored just 14 runs in a six-game homestand.
But they exploded for six runs in the second inning of their first game of the road trip last week, and Story was right in the middle of it. Since that game, he’s gone 11-for-33 (.333) with five home runs, 11 runs, 13 RBIs, six walks to just eight strikeouts and four stolen bases.
It’s hard to say specifically if Story is feeling his best at the plate, but he’s certainly taking advantage of mistakes in a way he wasn’t doing during the first five weeks of the season.
Four of his five home runs have been off pitches over the heart of the plate, though he did go down under the zone to lift a changeup out of the park for his third homer of the game.
There was also some significance to his first homer on Thursday night, as it came off a fastball, a pitch he’s struggled against this year. He entered the day hitting just .169 with 24 strikeouts in 59 at-bats ending on a fastball.
But there is another trend showing itself during Story’s nine-game stretch: he’s controlling the strikezone a bit better. Until the Braves series, he was swinging at 29% of pitches outside the zone with an overall contact rate of just 67%. Since the Braves series, he’s swinging at 27% of the bad pitches with an overall contact rate of 81%.
With the Sox offense ranking among the worst in the game at hitting home runs, they’ll hope Story’s big night is a sign of things to come.
2. A different Tanner Houck
Hill started this game on a run of four consecutive brilliant outings, but had nothing working for him. Without much control, Hill looked lost on the mound as the M’s beat him up for four runs on six hits and a walk.
Houck relieved him and the momentum quickly shifted in the Sox’ favor.
Something was different about Houck in this one. He had told reporters before the game he was throwing his slider with a different grip, and it showed. He generated nine whiffs on 26 swings as he tore up the Mariners lineup, allowing just one hit over four innings. He struck out a season-high six batters, something he hadn’t done since his final outing of the regular season last year, when he struck out eight in five perfect innings against the Nationals.
The Sox were hoping to rely on Houck in a big way this season, and while he’s been inconsistent out of the bullpen, his extended relief outing Thursday paved the way for a Sox comeback.
3. J.D. starts a new streak
J.D. Martinez saw his 18-game hitting streak come to an end on Wednesday. He bounced back with a 4-for-5 night with three runs scored on Thursday.
He’s now hitting .344, fourth-best in MLB.©2022 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at bostonherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.