CINCINNATI -- There seems to be something happening with this group. Maybe it's the traveling -- their first road trip of more than three games in which they've finished above .500. Maybe it was this abbreviated series, where they were forced to come back in two consecutive games to defeat the Reds -- and did. Maybe it was this lineup, melded together with traded stars and veterans, finally coming through with big hits.
And let’s not forget the pitching. Fresh faces have delivered wins in the last two outings.
Something’s going on -- possibly something that hasn’t been going all season.
These Red Sox have been resilient. They have found a way to get it done and win.
You can point to Mike Napoli, who on Wednesday hit a two-out, two-run homer -- the second on this road trip that decided a game.
“With his power the opposite way, and in this ballpark, it’s a pretty good combination,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Overall, it put a good finish on a successful trip.”
You can point to Yoenis Cespedes, who again came up big, knocking in a run to tie Wednesday’s game in the fifth.
You can point to Daniel Nava, who has shown a knack for starting rallies. He continued that streak Wednesday when he slapped a single right up the middle, driving in Brock Holt for the game’s first run. Nava was then driven in by Napoli to make it 2-0.
And speaking of finding examples of resilience in a streak, one has to look no further than Jackie Bradley Jr. Coming into Wednesday’s game, it must have felt like the entire world knew he was mired in an 0-for-35 slump. He said he felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Then, in the second inning, he punched a single into center field off Reds pitcher Mike Leake.
It was over.
“As time goes on you really can’t worry about being embarrassed in this game,” Bradley said. “You play the game long enough, you’ll go through a lot more than just that. So I just try to focus game to game.”
“Hopefully it gives him a little bit of a breather, allows him to relax a little bit,” Farrell said.
But it has been frustrating, Bradley admitted.
“Frustrating in a sense of feeling like you’re putting the work in, and not really getting the results to back it up,” he said. “This striking out thing is not what I’m used to -- it’s tough. I’ve never been known to strike out at this alarming rate.
“But I’m going to keep battling, keep working.”
Sounds like resiliency.
Think about the final inning Wednesday, where the Red Sox held a lead by the slimmest of margins. Reliever Edward Mujica came in to close the deal, and immediately found trouble. Reds left fielder Skip Schumaker singled to right. Shortstop Zack Cozart singled to left. Pinch hitter Ramon Santiago then came up to bat with one job: bunt the runners over. Instead, he struck out by fouling back three bunt attempts.
“It changes the whole complexion of the inning,” Farrell said of the gift strikeout.
Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton then flied out to center and Kristopher Negron made the game’s last out by grounding out to Mujica.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Sox found a way.
“Guys came out and did their job,” Farrell said. “Even though some names have changed out in the bullpen, they continue to come in and throw strikes.”
And then there’s the rookie Red Sox pitcher, Anthony Ranaudo. He’d already won a prime-time game versus the Yankees in Fenway -- and he looked good doing it. It was not as smooth sailing against the Reds.
When he had trouble with his changeup he used his fastball and breaking ball to some success, and the second time through the Reds’ order he gave up no walks. But by the time the fifth inning rolled around, Ranaudo had given up two home runs and a triple, which led to four runs total.
How did he respond? He put up zeroes in each of the next two innings before handing it off -- reluctantly -- to the bullpen.
“I didn’t think I threw my best, but I tried to command the zone and put some balls in play,” Ranaudo said. “(The Reds) scored some runs off me -- obviously that speaks volumes to the offense and how they supported me, and the bullpen and how they slammed the door.”
“He gave us six solid innings,” Farrell said of Ranaudo. “He’s a fly-ball pitcher. In a day game in this ballpark, it can be a little risky at times.”
Team officials have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made as to the futures of many of these current Red Sox players. Who will be left standing in the outfield when players come back from the disabled list? Will Ranaudo even earn another start in the rotation?
No one knows for sure. But the players on this team have done something over the last eight games away from Boston. They’ve won five. And at times it’s been difficult. It’s been a fight.
And maybe it hasn’t been pretty. But they’ve definitely been resilient.