Boston’s Alex Verdugo is pushed through the dugout in a laundry cart as he celebrates his solo home run with teammate Marwin Gonzalez in the third inning of Monday’s win over the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

It’s time to say it: the Red Sox are legit.

And as difficult as it was to forget about the disaster that was the 2020 Red Sox season – and to some extent the 2019 Red Sox season, too – the last two weeks have shown enough to think that this team isn’t going away anytime soon.

Monday’s Patriots’ Day extravaganza was the tipping point, as the Red Sox walloped Tony La Russa’s White Sox in an 11-4 win that was over after the first inning.

The Red Sox had been swept in a doubleheader on Sunday in a pair of games that left Manager Alex Cora finally sounding blunt about his team’s poor performance.

To hear Cora be honest on Sunday was a bit surprising. Honesty was his calling card in 2018, when he wasn’t afraid to publicly challenge his players to be better. But after the Sox won it all that season, Cora came back in ’19 and appeared to be much softer around the edges, rarely critiquing his own players or admitting their mistakes, instead often defending them, even as the $200-million-plus roster won just 84 games.

Cora’s been certifiably more gentle since returning for his second chance as the Red Sox manager. And with his team playing as well as it has, he could’ve written off Sunday’s sweep as just a case of some bad luck: “Even good teams lose once in a while” – something like that.


Boston outfielders Hunter Renfroe, left, and Franchy Cordero have fit in well in their first season in Boston. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Instead, he took a softball question about the team fighting back in the late innings and turned it into a moment of truth: “Yeah, but it wasn’t a good all-around game for us. We made a few mistakes as a group and we paid the price. We had the tying run at the plate at the end, which is good. But it wasn’t a great game for us.”

Sure, it’s still a far cry from Jim Mora’s infamous, “Playoffs? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game,” speech during the 2001 Indianapolis Colts season. But for Cora to be critical at all seemed noteworthy with his team surprisingly in first place.

The next day was Patriots’ Day, the annual event when the Red Sox have a chance to prove themselves worthy of Boston’s love and attention.

Facing Lucas Giolito, one of the toughest right-handers in the American League, the Red Sox started the first inning like this: home run, single, single, single, single, single, groundout, single, walk.

It wasn’t just that the Red Sox poured it on a usually great pitcher in Lucas Giolito. It was the way in which they did it.

Kiké Hernandez hasn’t looked like a leadoff hitter and it remains to be seen if he’ll be fit for the job, but he hammered a leadoff homer off the top of the Green Monster to start things off.


Then, a whole lot of singles.

A team that got too homer-happy in recent years, a team that loves to bang balls off the Monster for doubles, is finally looking happy to pile up singles.

Behind Hernandez, Alex Verdugo fell behind in a 0-2 count and got a fastball high and away. He barely swung, but slapped it to the left side of the infield to beat the shift for a single.

J.D. Martinez, too, went opposite-field for a single.

Rafael Devers roped one on a line to right field for another single.

Then Christian Vazquez had the single of the inning, dropping a perfect bunt down the third-base line and reaching safely after third baseman Jake Lamb couldn’t make a perfect play.


Marwin Gonzalez, who so far looks like the best $3 million ever spent, yanked a single to his pull-side.

Hunter Renfroe took the only poor at-bat of the inning, trying to hammer an inside fastball and grounding out to the shortstop.

Franchy Cordero took a nice swing for an opposite-field single.

Bobby Dalbec worked a 14-pitch walk.

Hernandez and Verdugo flew out to finally end the inning as the Red Sox took a 6-1 lead and handed it to Nathan Eovaldi, who hit 101 mph and tied a career high with 10 strikeouts.

So much for the Red Sox looking like a team that needed to be carried by one hot player, Martinez, who has cooled off but still looks dangerous.


So much for the Red Sox being a team that wouldn’t get consistency from its starting rotation, which isn’t exactly a dominant group but has gone at least five innings in 13 of 17 games.

Even the Red Sox bullpen has been lights out; they’re now 11-0 in protecting leads this year.

But Monday it was the depth of the lineup and willingness to take their singles that showed what kind of team the Red Sox can be.

They can play with anyone. They can fall behind and come back. They can hold leads. They can lose both games of a doubleheader against a good team and come back the next morning to put together their most complete game of the year.

It’s time to admit it: the Red Sox are a good baseball team.

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