Alex Verdugo’s game-saving catch reminded Alex Cora of Andrew Benintendi in 2018 ALCS; key late-game swap helped Boston Crimson Sox win

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The stakes have been a lot decrease — it’s April, not October, in fact — however the consequence was the identical for the Crimson Sox on Wednesday because it was in Sport 4 of the 2018 ALCS.

Again then, it was Andrew Benintendi robbing Houston’s Alex Bregman to place the Crimson Sox one victory away from a World Sequence look. On Wednesday, it was Alex Verdugo securing a win in Sport 1 of a doubleheader by stealing a success from Minnesota’s Luis Arraez and clinching Boston’s eighth straight victory.

“In fact,” mentioned Crimson Sox supervisor Alex Cora when requested if Verdugo’s play reminded him of Benintendi. “That was an ideal play by Alex.”

Cora, like he did typically again in 2018, performed a serious position within the tight victory. Verdugo began the sport in heart discipline and shifted to left after Kiké Hernández pinch-hit for Franchy Cordero within the sixth. Cora’s resolution to insert Hernández not solely gave Boston a greater matchup in opposition to lefty reliever Brandon Waddell but additionally supplied a greater defensive alignment within the outfield.

For the ultimate two frames of the seven-inning affair, the Crimson Sox had an outfield of Verdugo, Hernández and Renfroe — a greater group than the Cordero-Verdugo-Renfroe trio that had patrolled the grass for the primary 5 innings. It paid off.

“That’s why we speak about our protection within the outfield,” Cora mentioned. “You guys speak about transferring guys round late in video games. We pinch-hit with Enrique (Hernández) for Franchy and our protection continues to be good. Alex had an ideal leap and made the appropriate resolution and he caught the ball.”

Cora has mixed-and-matched his outfield alignment all through the primary two weeks of the season, shifting Hernández, Verdugo, Renfroe, Marwin Gonzalez and J.D. Martinez to completely different spots on a constant foundation. He’s comfy with Hernández and Verdugo — arguably his two greatest defensive outfielders — wherever they line up.

“(Hernández) is an effective defender anyplace you place him, and Alex, he performed nice left discipline final yr,” Cora mentioned. “I’m studying about them. I bear in mind Alex asking this query early in spring coaching concerning the alignment. I had some concepts, the entrance workplace had some concepts, too. Now we’re mixing collectively, we see them play and we’re very comfy with we’re at proper now.”

Verdugo’s catch put an exclamation level on a 3-2 win for the Crimson Sox, who have been 3-for-18 with runners and scoring place and left 12 males on base. Wednesday’s win was the sort a workforce will get after they’re actually rolling.

“It wasn’t an ideal sport for us,” Cora mentioned. “That’s what I meant… we’re good, however we’ve to maintain taking part in the sport. We had numerous runners on base, we didn’t money in and it got here right down to an ideal play by Alex. We’ll take it, in fact.”

Associated hyperlinks:

Alex Verdugo makes game-saving catch as Boston Crimson Sox win eighth straight, beat Twins, 3-2, in Sport 1 of doubleheader

Marwin Gonzalez’s instincts, diving play assist Boston Crimson Sox to eighth straight win; ‘He understands what it takes to win ballgames’

Boston Crimson Sox supervisor Alex Cora ‘loves’ seven-inning doubleheader rule: ‘I believe the urgency of the sport is completely different’

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