The Red Sox are taking 'sneaky' out of 'sneaky good'


This was a better postgame press conference for Garrett Richards.

After lining up the list of what-might-have-beens and what-will be following his disastrous Red Sox debut, Richards had the luxury of a much more palatable postgame presentation Saturday night. That was thanks to a solid five-inning outing, the Red Sox' 6-4, 10-inning win over the Orioles, and the explanation of a facial hair plight many men could relate to.

Yes, a lot had changed since last Sunday.

"I think to be honest, wearing the mask all the time, I was eating that thing most of the time, having to cover my lip," Richards said when explaining why he shaved his mustache. "My wife was super-pumped about shaving it off. I had been growing it over a year and periodically I’d tell her today is the day. I just got off the couch the other day to go to the field and it just kind of felt right. I won’t say that it wasn't a little bit of a 50/50 moment when I actually did it but it’s gone, so we’re moving on. It was over a year. To grow a mustache over a year is kind of an investment. So I’ll just check that off the list of things to do during your lifetime and move forward."

Richards joined a litany of Red Sox in becoming part of a solution that has now resulted in five straight wins. He also has managed to define the cut of this club's jib.

He is the guy who called the 2021 Red Sox "sneaky good" and he did it again when presented the opportunity this time around.

"I feel like we have some good momentum early on, moving forward. We’re vibing with each other right now," Richards noted. "From the first pitch we’re trying to win the game. It’s great to see. This is a sneaky team. People want to talk about other teams a lot. But this team will be there, I promise you that."

But here's the thing: There might not be anything really sneaky about it anymore.

Sure, it's only been eight games, and yes there was some expectation that such a record would be more of a necessity than a luxury thanks to the run of meetings with the Orioles. You can, however, see what Chaim Bloom and Alex Cora were thinking when putting together this group.

This might not be the shock-and-awe 2018 Red Sox -- as the snippets from the Sox' latest win suggests -- but the pieces of the puzzle do seem good enough to make life atop the American League East a regular thought.

While some might still need to be sold on this team's viability, the manager certainly doesn't need to be.

"It’s a good vibe," Cora said. "We’ve got a bunch of good baseball players. That’s the way I see it. I know a lot of people don’t feel like we’ve got superstars, but I like my bunch. It’s a good baseball team. They did everything right. We played that extra-inning rule the way we wanted to, and we got the W.”

The key plays this time around? Bobby Dalbec avoiding a game-ending double play thanks to his hustle down the first-base line. That allowed for extra-innings.

And then another well-executed extra-inning, this time courtesy pinch-runner Michael Chavis scoring the game-winner followed by Christian Vazquez's insurance RBI single.

At the end of the night, the Red Sox managed to fill the box score with enough best-case-scenarios needed to win another game.

Another hit from Franchy Cordero, this one coming in the form of a key pinch-hit in the ninth.

Matt Barnes once again offering the image of an absolutely dominant reliever. After striking out two of his three batters, the righty has now pitched five innings, struck out 11, walked just one and not allowed a single hit.

And to close things out was a guy Cora clearly has developed a significant amount of trust in, Matt Andriese. The supposed long-man came back for a second straight game and executed a flawless 10th inning for his eighth career save.

There were others, such as Rafael Devers, who made up for the absence of J.D. Martinez with his second homer in as many games. Oh, and by the way, his might also included a defensive play that might have saved the game.

Perfect? Dominant? Nope. Those aren't these Red Sox. Flat-out Good? At, this point that would seem to be an apt description. For now, that should fit just fine.