Chris Sale strikes out 11, Alex Verdugo comes through with wonky walk-off single to seal comeback as Red Sox defeat Twins, 5-4, in extras

The Red Sox came back to walk off the Twins in wonky fashion on Tuesday night. Boston defeated Minnesota by a final score of 5-4 in 10 innings at Fenway Park to get back to .500 and improve to 9-9 on the season.

With Sonny Gray starting for the Twins, the Sox quickly drew first blood in their half of the first. Alex Verdugo led off with a line-drive double and then came into score the first run of the game on an RBI single from Rafael Devers.

Chris Sale, meanwhile, made his fourth start of the season for Boston. The veteran left-hander looked like his vintage self, as he allowed just one run on three hits, two walks, and two hit batsman to go along with 11 strikeouts over six strong innings of work.

After tossing four scoreless frames out of the gate, Sale ran into some trouble in the fifth. There, a walk, hit-by-pitch, and infield single filled the bases with no outs. Sale then struck out Donovan Solano, but Carlos Correa followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly to pull the Twins back even with the Red Sox at 1-1.

Sale avoided any further damage and ended his night by stranding former battery mate Christian Vazquez in an otherwise clean sixth inning. The 34-year-old southpaw finished with 94 pitches (63 strikes), inducing 19 swings-and-misses and topping out at 96.1 mph with his four-seam fastball.

With Sale’s day done, Josh Winckowski received the first call out of the bullpen from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in the seventh. Right away, Winckowski was greeted by Max Kepler, who took a 1-0, 85 mph slider on the inner half of the plate and deposited it 385 feet into the visitor’s bullpen to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.

That is where the score would remain as Winckowski held Minnesota at two runs through the middle of the eighth. The latter half of the inning is where things started to get interesting.

Enrique Hernandez led off with a line-drive single off new Twins reliever Griffin Jax. After Triston Casas struck out for a fourth time, the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire reached base on a catcher’s interference. Hernandez was able to go from first to third on the play since the ball was technically live when McGuire grounded to third.

That bizarre sequence put runners on the corners with one out for Jarren Duran, who proceeded to hit a chopper to second baseman Nick Gordon. With his momentum carrying him in that direction, Gordon attempted to throw out Hernandez at home. Gordon’s throw, however, was mishandled by Vazquez at the plate, which allowed Hernandez to score the tying run.

Closers Kenley Jansen and Jhoan Duran exchanged 1-2-3 innings in the ninth, sending this one into extras. In the top of the 10th, John Schreiber plunked Solano and walked Correa to fill the bases with no outs. The Twins then pushed across two runs on a Byron Buxton sacrifice fly and Jose Miranda RBI groundout.

Trailing 4-2 going into the bottom of the 10th, Kutter Crawford (the pitcher) entered the game as the ghost runner at second base for the Red Sox. With a short bench due to Christian Arroyo’s hamstring injury, Cora was forced to use Crawford (who pitched 6 1/3 innings of relief on Monday) as a pinch-runner after making a double switch and burning his designated hitter earlier in the game.

Representing the tying run, Hernandez led off the 10th by striking out, but he reached first safely as a result of a wild pitch on strike three from Jovani Moran. Crawford advanced to the third on the play and Casas followed by drawing a six-pitch walk to fill the bases for McGuire.

McGuire came through with a game-tying, two-run single, plating both Crawford and Hernandez by roping a 188-foot base hit to left field. Duran then re-loaded the bases by ripping a groundball single back up the middle, but Rob Refsnyder followed by grounding into a 5-3 double play.

Down to their final out in the 10th, the game was fittingly in Verdugo’s hands. Verdugo delivered by lifting a 300-foot single down the right field line. Out of the box, Verdugo thought it was foul, but the ball barely landed in fair territory as it bounced off the portion of the right field wall in front of the Pesky Pole.

After a lengthy umpire review, it was determined that the ball did indeed land in fair territory. As a result, Verdugo was credited with the sixth walk-off RBI of his career and the Red Sox went home winners despite going 5-for-20 with runners in scoring position and leaving 13 runners on base as a team.

Next up: Ryan vs. Kluber

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory over the Twins on Wednesday night. Corey Kluber will get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Joe Ryan will do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and MLB Network.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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