By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s not even May yet, but we’re at the point where we have to look at an error-filled victory over a sub-.500 Oakland A’s team as a positive step for the defending world champion Boston Red Sox.
Life sure does come at you fast.
While the 2019 Red Sox — who are now 12-17 on the season — have a lot of work to do in order to climb back to .500 and then climb back into playoff contention, they did take a baby-step with a 9-4 victory at Fenway Park on Monday evening. And if you’re the type of person who’s always searching for a positive, then Michael Chavis has been able to provide just that.
The 23-year-old was called up on April 19 amid a minor injury crisis in the Red Sox infield. Dustin Pedroia’s knee wasn’t doing so well, and Brock Holt had to hit the injured list due to his son scratching his eyeball. Eduardo Nunez had to hit the IL as well, due to a back strain.
So Chavis was brought up earlier than anyone in the Red Sox organization likely planned, and he’s certainly been getting more playing time than anyone anticipated, too. He’s responded quite well.
After a 2-for-4, three-RBI night against the A’s on Monday, Chavis is now sporting a .286 batting average, .429 on-base percentage and 1.071 OPS in 35 plate appearances. He’s already blasted three home runs and recorded eight RBIs, and he has just one fewer home run than J.D. Martinez and two fewer homers than Mookie Betts, despite playing in just nine games. Chavis ranks seventh on the team in RBIs, despite playing in just 31 percent of the team’s games.
A third baseman by trade, Chavis has been used at third, second, and first base. He’s acquitted himself rather well, only recording one error — albeit a pretty bad one on Sunday — in 27 total chances in the field.
Chavis’ contributions were particularly timely in Monday’s win. With the bases loaded in a 4-4 game in the bottom of the third, Chavis made a pair of Oakland errors hurt by smoking a line drive to center field to plate two runs and give the Red Sox a lead which they would never relinquish.
His third RBI came as the result of some good fortune, as he sent a weak flare into no man’s land in right field to give the Red Sox a little extra cushion on their lead in the fifth.
Chavis was on point defensively, too, starting at first base amid a mighty slump from reigning World Series MVP Steve Pearce. Chavis started a 3-6-3 double play to end the sixth inning, and he threw out Matt Chapman at second base after Eduardo Rodriguez’s pickoff throw to first.
“Did a good job defensively, turning the double play, and the pick, clearing his path to make a throw over the runner,” manager Alex Cora said after the win. “Offensively, pretty good swing on the first hit. We all know that — you can see it, and the adjustments, and what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to stay in the middle of the ballpark, so those are all good signs.”
Everything, pretty much, has been a good sign for Chavis. How he’ll fit in once/if the regulars return healthy remains up in the air. But if he continues to contribute the way he has in his first 10 days in the big leagues, this team can’t afford to send him back to the minors any time soon.