MLB: Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and second baseman Brock Holt celebrate after the game against Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Wednesday night.

HIS TEAM had just completed a road sweep of the lowly Orioles and Christian Vazquez had a message for the Red Sox media last Sunday.

“Hey guys, we’re back,” the catcher said.

Three games later, you have to think the guy just might have been right. Struggling all season against teams with winning records, the Sox won two out of three in Minnesota. Getting strong starting pitching, they survived another bullpen failure that cost them Game 2 and won the series.

That’s the idea. Win every series.

With the Yankees opening some room between them and the Rays with a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay in the Bronx, the Red Sox come home for six games against the Blue Jays and White Sox on an up note — a 5-1 trip.

And, just as they did when they lost an 18-inning World Series heartbreaker to the Dodgers, they rebounded from the 17-inning loss in Minneapolis Tuesday with a strong win Wednesday.

Alex Cora’s team was 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and struck out 17 times in Tuesday’s loss. They then went 7-for-14 with RISP Wednesday, shaking off what happened to them the previous night.

“Yeah, it was good, especially after last night’s game,” said Brock Holt, who is on fire and is now the team’s regular second baseman. “We could have come in and kind of been dragging today. But to come out tonight and take two of three from a good team over there, it’s a good road trip for us. We’re excited about the off-day tomorrow, get some guys some breaks and get back out there.”

If you had Eduardo Rodriguez in the first guy to eight wins pool (no other starter with more than five), take a bow. The enigmatic left-hander wasn’t great Wednesday but was good enough to go to 8-4.

No respect

Xander Bogaerts continues to put up strong numbers and also continues to be one of the more underrated players in baseball.

He has noticed.

“These past few years every time I’ve come up just short even though my numbers have been up there or better than most of the guys,” Bogaerts told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “It’s just so weird. I just miss out when in my opinion I should have been there. I just feel like it’s a routine, every year the same thing. It’s kind of getting annoying. But I don’t know what to do.”

He was sixth among AL shortstops in the latest fan voting. But this isn’t arbitrary. Bogaerts sat fourth among major league shortstops and is one of four batting .300. But all four are in the American League.

Jorge Polanco leads with a .326 batting average and .930 OPS, but Bogaerts, batting .300 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs, was right behind at .928.

Tim Anderson was hitting .312 with 10 homers, 32 RBIs and an .818 and Elvis Andrus at .300 with 6/41/.792.

Split time

A plan to salvage that disaster known as the Tampa Bay Rays surfaced Thursday when MLB OK’d looking into the franchise splitting time between St. Petersburg, Fla., and Montreal.

Sound crazy? Yep. Sound impossible? Nope.

The thought of having half the road games for a team in the AL East in Montreal has to intrigue local fans. You know how Red Sox fans love to travel. Montreal is a whole lot closer than St. Pete.

How about the readers of this newspaper? Sox-Rays in Montreal? Sounds like fun, no?

Said Rays owner Stu Sternberg: “My priority remains the same, I am committed to keeping baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come. I believe this concept is worthy of serious exploration.”

Translation? Give me my stadium or I’m going to do something drastic.

It should be noted that commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that the Rays are committed to St. Pete through 2027, making this long-term at best. 

And late Thursday, St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman said he has told the team he would not grant permission and stick to the lease.
 

Tough times

Deadlines made it impossible for this space to comment on what the Celtics did in the NBA draft Thursday night. So much was up in the air with that team, but things didn’t look great with Kyrie Irving and Al Horford both apparently headed out the door.

What a drop from this time last year, when Celtics fans were awaiting the return of Gordon Hayward and were the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference to challenge the Warriors.

Unless something changes, the Celtics figure to be just another team in 2019-20.

And in the middle of all the bad free agent news that came out of this week came a story noting the dissension on the club centered around Brad Stevens favoring Hayward at the cost of others.

Said ESPN’s Jackie McMullan: “You hate to pick on Gordon Hayward because he was coming back from injury and he was doing the best he could, but I really think that’s where it started. They were force feeding him on his teammates, Brad (Stevens) knew Gordon well, he wanted to get his confidence back.

“I would contend that Brad Stevens would have done that for any player on that roster that had a catastrophic injury, he would want to fill him with that same confidence, but that’s not what happened. He gave the benefit of the doubt over and over to a player that wasn’t ready, to a guy who had history with him, and it rankled that locker room, and it bothered that locker room.”

Hard to swallow

First, Patrice Bergeron had to endure Ryan O’Reilly and the Blues winning the Stanley Cup and O’Reilly winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. Then, the classy Bruin had to travel across the country and see O’Reilly win the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward.

Bergeron, who has won the award four times, finished third, behind runner-up Mark Stone.

It came on a night Don Sweeney won the award as the league’s top general manager. Must have been for those two deals he made at the deadline, bringing in Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson.

Remember when folks around here were all over him?Finally, we give you the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi on Twitter: “Quite a trip for #Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He will be awarded the Genesis Prize in Israel today. The award is considered the “Jewish Nobel Prize” and includes a million dollars. Kraft is putting all that money back into the fight against anti-semitism.”

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Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.