Alex Verdugo homers again as Red Sox open series against Brewers with 5-3 win

Playing at American Family Field for the first time since 2017, the Red Sox kicked off their road trip with a series-opening win over the Brewers. Boston defeated Milwaukee by a final score of 5-3 on Friday night to get back over .500 and improve to 11-10 on the season.

Matched up against Freddy Peralta out of the gate, the Sox drew first blood against the Brewers in their half of the third inning. Jarren Duran led off with a hard-hit single and advanced to second on a successful sacrifice bunt from Yu Chang. As the lineup flipped over, Alex Verdugo delivered with a 366-foot two-run home run down the right field line.

Verdugo’s third homer of the season — and second in as many days — had an exit velocity of 98.3 mph. It also gave his side an early 2-0 lead as Nick Pivetta was in the midst of his fourth start of the year for Boston.

After stranding one runner, who Reese McGuire helped pick off, in the first and putting up another zero in the second, Pivetta ran into some trouble in the bottom of the third. There, the right-hander gave up a one-out single to Owen Miller, who stole second base and came into score from second on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Christian Yelich.

Milwaukee then leapfrogged Boston in the fourth. With one out in the inning, Pivetta served up a game-tying solo shot to noted Red Sox nemesis Rowdy Tellez. William Contreras followed by making some more hard contact in the form of a line-drive double. Two batters later, Brice Turang provided the Brewers with their first lead of the night by plating Contreras on a groundball single through the right side of the infield.

Despite falling behind, 3-2, the Sox were able to respond in the top of the sixth. Enrique Hernandez and Triston Casas drew back-to-back two-out walks to knock Peralta out of the game. With left-handed reliever Hoby Milner set to take over for the Brewers, Red Sox manager Alex Cora dipped into his bench by having the right-handed hitting Rob Refsnyder pinch-hit for McGuire, a left-handed hitter

Refsnyder made the most of the opportunity, as he greeted Milner by lofting a game-tying single to right field. Hernandez came into score from second to knot things up at three runs apiece. Moments later, Duran broke the tie by driving in Casas on a 100.4 mph liner that could not be handled cleanly by Miller.

As a result, the Red Sox went up, 4-3, going into the latter half of the sixth. Pivetta then recorded the first two outs of the inning before issuing a four-pitch walk to Brian Anderson, which marked the end of his night. The 30-year-old hurler wound up allowing just the three earned runs on seven hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work. He finished with exactly 100 pitches (65 strikes) and induced 12 swings-and-misses before ultimately picking up his first winning decision of the year.

In relief of Pivetta, Josh Winckowcki received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from Cora. The righty stranded the lone runner he inherited in the sixth by getting Turang to fly out to left fielder Masataka Yoshida. A half-inning later, Yoshida provided Boston with an important insurance run by pushing across Justin Turner on a 107.3 mph RBI double off Bryse Wilson.

Yoshida’s clutch two-base hit gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead at stretch time. Winckowski picked up where he left off by tossing a 1-2-3 seventh inning. The Brewers threatened in the eighth when Tellez drew a two-out walk and Contreras followed with a single to put runners on the corners, but Winckowski did not falter. Instead, he fanned Anderson on a 95.1 mph fastball to escape the jam.

That paved the way for Kenley Jansen to enter in the ninth. The veteran closer made quick work of the Brewers, punching out two and getting Joey Wiemer to pop out into foul territory to notch his fifth save of the season and secure the 5-3 victory.

Next up: Whitlock vs. Miley

Winners of six of their last eight games, the Red Sox will look to take this series from the Brewers on Saturday night. Right-hander Garrett Whitlock is slated to take the mound for Boston while former Sox left-hander Wade Miley is expected to do the same for Milwaukee.

First pitch from American Family Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

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

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