Alex Verdugo crushed his fourth home run and collected his sixth and seventh RBI of the season on Friday night and extended his hitting streak to five games by doing so. It was a solid effort from the 24-year-old, but it alone was not enough to snap what is now a five-game losing streak for his team.
With the 10-3 loss at the hands of the Yankees on Friday, the Red Sox are now 6-14 and have the worst record in the American League exactly one third of the way through this truncated, 60-game season. Verdugo may be contributing in positive ways despite the Sox’ miserable start, but this much turmoil all at once is something the former Dodgers top prospect is not exactly accustomed to.
In three seasons with Los Angeles prior to getting traded to Boston in February, Verdugo was part of three straight National League West-winning Dodgers teams that averaged just over 100 wins per season from 2017 through 2019. He likely won’t be able to enjoy that same sort of accomplishment in his inaugural season with the Red Sox.
“It’s definitely a new place for me,” Verdugo said when asked about the Sox’ struggles during his postgame media availability on Friday. “I hadn’t really gone through this a lot with the Dodgers. It is what it is — I’m here now.”
As pessimistic as those comments may read, Verdugo is with the Red Sox now, and compared to the start of the season last month, he has carved out more of a role for himself and has seen an uptick in playing time as a result. The former second-round pick attributes this to trying to be as stress-free as possible when on the field.
“You see guys stressing out a little bit. I’m one of them,” he said. “Everybody just needs to take a deep breath, relax, and try to do less. That, at least personally, has helped for me. Every time I go out there, whether it’s offense, defense or running bases, if I feel like I’m trying to force something to happen…a lot of times it doesn’t happen. If I feel like I’m going out there and letting the game transpire, just play, and take what they give you, really, I feel like at that point everything settles in.”
Following Friday’s 1-for-4 showing, Verdugo now owns a .258/.324/.468 slash line through his first 18 games as a member of the Red Sox. And although the Red Sox are likely going to finish in the basement of the American League East seeing how they are currently on pace to end the year with 18 wins and 42 losses, watching Verdugo continue to blossom could make this 2020 season somewhat worth it.