Red Sox

Kyle Schwarber continues to provide for Red Sox in leadoff spot

The Red Sox have won all six games Schwarber's been the leadoff hitter for this season

Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Kyle Schwarber had no further need for his bat after smashing a 430-foot grand slam into the right field seats in the second inning Monday, sending Fenway Park into delirium.

When Kyle Schwarber came up with the bases loaded in the second inning of Game 3 on Monday, his mind wasn’t focused on hitting a grand slam.

With the Red Sox scoring a run in each of the previous at-bats, he just wanted to add to the 2-0 lead. That was especially the case after Astros starter Jose Urquidy threw three straight balls to start the at-bat.

Even though the count was 3-0, Schwarber got the green light. And with it, he drove Urquidy’s 93 mph fastball 430 feet into the right-field grandstand to make it 6-0 Red Sox.

“I definitely wasn’t thinking home run but I definitely was thinking don’t be late and get it in the air,” Schwarber said. “You’re definitely trying to get at least one. Not going up there thinking home run, that could turn into a popup or something like that. So, trying not to be late because you know a heater’s coming and go from there.”

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The fact that Schwarber recorded a hit – let alone a home run – was a bit surprising to him, as he was 0-for-7 with a 3-0 count in the past.

“I think I’m a really bad 3-0 hitter. I really do,” Schwarber said.

But the Red Sox slugger believed that the moment called for him to swing.

“The thing is, you know what, we have guys on the pond, let’s be aggressive here,” Schwarber said. “We’re wanting to get after these guys. We want to be aggressive, but be aggressive to our pitch. I think that you look at the at-bats beforehand, the way that we’ve grinded that guy out. There was a couple of walks. Christian hits a bullet. Altuve is not able to handle it; run scores. Then get to a 3-0 count, and he is forced to come to you.

“I think that’s kind of the biggest thing is just still being aggressive to your pitch.”

Monday’s game marked the sixth time in eight games this postseason that Schwarber hit in the leadoff spot. The Red Sox have won all six games, averaging nearly nine runs per game.

Hitting in the leadoff spot this postseason, Schwarber is 7-for-23 (.304) with four walks, three home runs, and six RBIs.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora admitted that hitting Schwarber in the leadoff spot isn’t related to Schwarber. It was actually because of J.D. Martinez’s absence in the Wild Card Game and Game 1 of the ALDS, making Cora wanting to protect Rafael Devers.

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“It’s not analytics. It’s not a hunch. It’s just out of necessity, to be honest with you,” Cora said. “It feels really good right now with this lineup. Against lefties, we do the opposite, right, but he is just — he controls the strike zone. He can go deep. He is not afraid to hit with two strikes. He missed the first pitch — in the first at-bat, he just missed that pitch, so he is a threat.”

One of the beneficiaries is Christian Arroyo, who’s hit No. 9 in the lineup in all of the games Schwarber’s led off and scored on Schwarber’s grand slam. Arroyo actually hit a home run on Monday, robbing Schwarber of the chance to knock him in. But he’s grateful for Schwarber’s presence in the lineup.

“Obviously when Schwarbs came over after the deadline, he was a huge boost to our lineup,” Arroyo said. “He hasn’t skipped a beat since he’s gotten here. Having a guy like him at the top of the lineup just brings so many different dynamics. It just breaks your lineup up. We have a talented group of guys. When we stick to our plan, we feel like we’re as good as anyone.”

The numbers don’t lie. In 48 games since arriving in Boston, Schwarber’s hitting .288 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs. While Schwarber was out of the lineup in his first two weeks with the Red Sox due to injury, nights like Monday showed why the team traded for him at the deadline.

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“When we traded for him, we were in a really good position, but he was hurt, and then there were some setbacks after we got him, and we weren’t able to play him right away, right?” Cora said. “I always said that it was like for Christmas you’re on vacation with your kids and everything, and then all the gifts are under the tree, but they’re back home, and then for us our guy we knew he was going to have an impact, but we had to be patient. Well, we were patient. We didn’t play good baseball. The Rays played great, and then they did what they did, and they won the — they kind of, like, won the division in August.

“But he has been amazing for us. Not only on the field, but in the clubhouse, in the meetings, the way he talks the game, and it’s a different approach for us. We were very aggressive the whole season. We were expanding. We didn’t walk too much, and when he got here and when he started playing, it was different. It’s a different at-bat, and other guys have followed his lead, and right now, like I said, this is the best I’ve seen this team this season offensively.”

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