Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
BOSTON, August 7 — The first inning showed signs of a sloppy game to come for both the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. However, Alex Verdugo was able to stay hot enough to keep the Red Sox in the game for all nine innings. After starting the season as a platoon player mostly seeing action against left-handers, Verdugo is now commanding the attention of Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. The outfielder has carried the load in back-to-back wins and is starting to show signs of a player the Red Sox were hoping they’d get in return for Mookie Betts.
Ryan Weber Consistently Inconsistent
The Red Sox may have left the park feeling good on Friday night, but the game started the same way so many of them have to this point in the season — playing from behind. Blue Jays infielder Cavan Biggio took Ryan Weber deep in the first at-bat of the night after Weber left a 3-2 sinker out over the middle of the plate. Rafael Devers didn’t help the situation when Bo Bichette ripped a grounder to third base on the very next pitch. Devers fumbled the ball and rushed a bad throw which allowed Bichette to advance to second base. Weber found his way out of the inning only letting one run across but he ran into trouble with this same pair two innings later.
Biggio led off the third inning with a single to right field. Bichette stepped in next and snuck a ground ball down into the leftfield corner where Andrew Benintendi had trouble coming up with the ball cleanly, and Biggio came all the way around from first to score.
Short Leash for Weber
Weber’s final line came in at three innings pitched, giving up five hits, two earned runs and striking out three. Believe it or not, this was his best start of the year. He is yet to make it through four full innings, but in his two previous starts, he has allowed six and three runs while not striking out a single batter. Despite putting together his best line of the season, the leash is likely getting shorter and shorter in regards to his spot as the third starter.
This may have been the final straw for Weber. The one factor that may save his spot is the same question that will haunt the Red Sox all season, who is going to pitch tomorrow? On most clubs, it’s almost certain that Weber would’ve been moved to the bullpen by now. The Red Sox really don’t have any reasonable options waiting in the shadows behind the soft-throwing righty. The pitching staff consists of Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, and a bunch of relief pitchers — that’s it. Weber may not have been bad enough this time around to seal his fate, but the team may be forced to start looking for other options soon.
Tanner Roark Follows Weber’s Lead
There are plenty of words to describe how Tanner Roark’s start went. Simply put, it was bad. Roark featured a lot of cutters and changeups and was scared to miss over the middle of the plate. This led to four Boston batters being walked in the first inning. The Red Sox only managed to get one run across, however, as Christian Vazquez bailed out Roark on a double play with the bases loaded.
The next two innings didn’t get much better for Roark as he gave up the first of two Alex Verdugo home runs in the second inning. Mitch Moreland took the righty deep in the third to put Boston ahead 4-2.
Similar to Weber, Roark did not trot back out to the mound for the fourth inning. His night ended after three innings, allowing three hits, four earned runs, five walks, two homers, while only striking out one.
Welcome to the Verdugo Show
One game after Verdugo went deep in Tampa to help the Red Sox get back on track, he did it again, and again, and pulled one back for good measure. Verdugo’s second home run of the season came in the second inning on Friday. The second-year player deposited a 1-0 changeup into the seats of the Green Monster to give his team the lead. In the eighth inning, he led off the inning once again. He took another 1-0 pitch in the same exact spot and sent it even deeper over the Monster. His ability to hit the ball the other way plays perfectly in a field like Fenway Park.
One inning later the Red Sox led 5-3 when Travis Shaw stepped in to lead off the ninth. Shaw turned on a Brandon Workman curveball which was destined for the Blue Jays bullpen. Verdugo had other plans. The right fielder camped out at the wall and timed his jump to bring the ball back, preserving the two-run lead.
Verdugo Earning More At Bats
Verdugo is now batting .294 while going 3-for-6 with three homers, and four RBI in his last two games. The Red Sox currently sit one game out of the playoffs behind the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays. If the team is truly going to try and contend for October, it’s time for Roenicke to wake up. Andrew Benintendi has the worst average in baseball, is second-worst in slugging, and third-worst in OPS. The former top prospect has been a detriment to his team at the top of the order. Not only does Verdugo deserve the starting position over Benintendi, but he also deserves to be the leadoff hitter.
Verdugo has also been up for the task of patrolling right field after the departure of Betts, but he doesn’t like the view it as such.
“I don’t think about Mookie. I think he’s a great player. He did a lot for Boston, he’s going to do a lot for the Dodgers. I think about me being here, what I’m going to do, and what I’m going to bring to this team. It’s not a comparable thing, I don’t like when people bring it up,” explained Verdugo. “I don’t care about shoes to fill or anything like that. I’m playing my game.”
'I don't care about shoes to fill' pic.twitter.com/I1bROiX43Y
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) August 8, 2020
Game 2 Saturday 7:30 ET
The second game of the three-game set will kick-off on Saturday at 7:30 Eastern. Zack Godley (0-1 6.14) will get the nod for the Red Sox. Chase Anderson (0-0 0.00) will make his season debut for the Blue Jays.
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