In the midst of the Red Sox falling to the Mariners by a final score of 8-2 on Saturday afternoon, a scary moment arose in the top half of the fourth inning.
With no outs and the bases empty, Mariners left fielder Sam Haggerty laced a 105.7 mph line drive off Nathan Eovaldi to center field.
Alex Verdugo was starting in center for Boston on Saturday. At the crack of Haggerty’s bat, the 24-year-old hustled to his right and made what was a pretty simple routine catch for the first out of the inning.
Upon catching the ball, though, Verdugo appeared to come up lame and with a winced expression on his face, reached towards the rear of his upper left leg while gingerly returning to his position before getting into a series of stretches.
Despite clear concern from the Red Sox medical staff, Verdugo remained in the game until its completion and even picked up a single and double as part of a 2-for-4 day at the plate.
While it initially looked as though the young outfielder had maybe suffered a left hamstring strain or something of the sort, it was later revealed that he had just been dealing with a cramp.
“He kind of cramped up,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Verdugo during his postgame media availability. “He cramped up at one point. But he was OK. Obviously, he has to be smart about it. But he put a good game. He put good at-bats. Obviously hobbled a little bit, but he’s OK.”
Verdugo himself confirmed as much, telling reporters Saturday afternoon that his left leg did cramp up a little bit, but he wanted to stay in the game even after suffering said cramp.
“It was actually a very weird play,” he recalled. “Just shuffled my feet, felt something grab a little bit, and just had to make sure that I kept that in mind and loosened it up throughout the game. But no problem.”
Following Saturday’s loss, the Red Sox dropped to 13-9 on the season and 4-6 over their last 10 games. They are slated to wrap up their four-game series against the Mariners on Sunday afternoon, though the forecast for the Fenway area around first pitch time does not look particularly promising.
Sunday’s series finale was going to lead into an off day for the Sox on Monday, but it now seems increasingly likely that the club will have two straight days off before embarking upon a six-game road trip that starts with a two-game interleague tilt against the Mets in Flushing on Tuesday.
“Every off day is huge,” Verdugo said when asked if his team would benefit from a day of rest. “We’re out here grinding. We had a tough schedule to start off this year. Lot of day games, then we had some doubleheaders run across. That’s no excuse, either. Because at the end of the day, we come out here and we come out to play.
“At any point, with the snap of the finger, our offense can get going, our pitchers can get on a roll,” he added. “It’s just one of those things. Today, the Mariners were better. But, as you said, that off day will be huge. We will use that to rest our bodies, rest our minds, and regroup and come back stronger for that New York series.”
(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)