Renteria has his breakout with Red Sox
Shortstop belts two-run homer, drives in game-winning run
BOSTON -- The initiation to the Red Sox had been a frustrating one for Edgar Renteria, who perhaps had been the victim of trying to do too much too soon in his new surroundings. That all changed on Thursday night, as the veteran shortstop had his breakout moment in a Boston uniform.
With a typically drama-filled night between the Red Sox and Yankees calling out for a hero, Renteria emerged in the bottom of the eighth. He bashed an RBI double off the wall in left-center against Tom Gordon, scoring a sprinting Johnny Damon all the way from first to snap a 5-5 tie. It was the key hit for the Red Sox en route to an 8-5 victory in the rubber match of the three-game series.
"I got lucky," said Renteria. "I didn't try to do too much. Sometimes when you do try to get too much, you get tight. I just tried to relax and put the ball in play."
In the third, he put the ball out of play, blasting his first homer in a Boston uniform, a two-run shot off Randy Johnson that gave the Sox a 4-1 lead.
"It feels great, because Randy is one of the best pitchers in baseball," said Renteria. "You know he's tough and you have to put together a great at-bat."
This was the Renteria the Sox had in mind when they signed him to a four-year, $40 million deal in December.
"We've known all along that Edgar is a great player," said Sox manager Terry Francona. "When you sign a four-year deal and you come to Boston, you're supposed to be a great player from Day 1. Edgar is smart enough not to panic, and hopefully we can get him on a roll, because we need him. We know he's going to be good. Tonight he had a big impact on the game. That's going to happen a lot."
In this game alone, Renteria produced nearly as many RBIs (three) as the four he had in his first eight games with the Sox.
Now that he is relaxing again and letting his talent take over, Renteria could well go on a hot streak.
Was Renteria pressing during his first few games in his new environment?
"You know, we're human," Renteria said. "Maybe we say no. But my family, they tell me I'm trying too hard. They say, 'Relax, enjoy the game. You know what you're doing.'"
Renteria has a history of coming through in spots like he did Thursday night. Back in 1997, he merely won the World Series for the Marlins by poking an RBI single in the 11th inning of Game 7 against the Indians.
On Sunday, with two outs and two strikes and the Sox trailing by two, Renteria delivered a two-run single. That hit wound up being overshadowed because Boston lost the game.
That's why Thursday's knock was one to savor for the new shortstop.
"It feels great because we won the game," Renteria said. "That's all that matters."
As for the pivotal at-bat against Gordon? To Renteria, it was hardly rocket science.
"He threw me a fastball, a sinker down and in," Renteria said. "I didn't try to do too much. I feel like everything is coming through now. I've been working hard every day. When you feel comfortable, you hit your pitch."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.