Verdugo homers for 3rd walk-off hit; Red Sox beat Blue Jays
BOSTON (AP) — Alex Verdugo belted a leadoff homer in the ninth inning against Jordan Romano for his third walk-off hit this season, and the Boston Red Sox beat Toronto 6-5 on Monday night to end a nine-game losing streak to the Blue Jays.
Emmanuel Valdez hit his first major league home run, a two-run drive, and Jarren Duran added a solo shot for the Red Sox.
Verdugo also had game-ending hits on Saturday and April 18. This time, he drove a 94 mph fastball from Romano (2-2) into Boston’s bullpen in right-center.
“It feels amazing. It’s just one of those things, trying to take it all in,” Verdugo said, smiling in the middle of the clubhouse. “I told the guys I kind of envisioned it, but I wasn’t like, forcing it to happen.”
Masataka Yoshida had two hits with an RBI and extended his hitting streak to 11 games for Boston, which had lost its last eight games at Fenway Park against the Blue Jays.
Bo Bichette hit a three-run homer and went 5 for 5 for the Blue Jays, who lost for just the fourth time in 12 games. Bichette was moved into the leadoff spot after George Springer was a late scratch due to illness.
Toronto went 16-3 against the Red Sox last season.
Boston shortstop Kiké Hernández made two throwing errors in the eighth when the Blue Jays scored two runs to tie it. The second came on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s grounder that would have been an inning-ending double play but allowed the tying run instead.
“The last one he rushed,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He tried to make a play that wasn't there.”
Josh Winckowski (2-0) pitched two innings of relief.
With the Red Sox trailing 3-2, Duran sent a drive into the center-field seats off José Berríos. Valdez then sent a 95 mph fastball into the seats following a walk to Triston Casas.
Berríos dropped to one knee in front of the rubber as he watched Valdez’s drive sail out.
“It was a big moment for me because I was giving the lead to the team,” Valdez said through a translator. “I feel very happy and grateful for this moment.”
Coming off seven shutout innings in his previous start, Berríos gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Boston starter Corey Kluber allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks.
Kluber sandwiched walks to Danny Jansen and Kevin Kiermaier around his second strikeout of the second inning before Bichette drove a curveball into the Green Monster seats.
Cora put Casas back in the lineup after giving the struggling rookie first baseman two days off to relax.
Casas went 0 for 3, dropping his average to .128 in 78 at-bats.
“We saw in September, last year, the numbers average-wise weren’t great but he was getting on base, controlled the strike zone,” Cora said. “He should be fine. This kid has hit everywhere. You just have to help him throughout the process.”
Red Sox: Cora said right-hander Garrett Whitlock, on the 15-day injured list with right elbow ulnar neuritis, will be re-examined Tuesday.
Blue Jays: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (4-0, 3.00 ERA) is set to start the second of a four-game series Tuesday night. He faced Boston three times (one start) last season, giving up two runs in 8 2/3 innings.
Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck (3-1, 4.50) is slated to make his fourth career start against Toronto.
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Ken Powtak, The Associated Press