8 Takeaways as Alex Verdugo’s walk-off single elevates the Red Sox over the Yankees


8 Takeaways as Alex Verdugo's walk-off single elevates the Red Sox over the Yankees

Red Sox

“We needed Dugie to beat the Yankees.”

Red Sox Yankees

Rob Refsnyder and Jeter Downs celebrate at the plate as the Red Sox dugout empties onto the field. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox clinched a typically ferocious win over the Yankees on Saturday, walking away with a 6-5 win at the bottom of the 10th inning.

Here are the takeaways.

1. Jeter Downs went 0 for 4 in his major league debut last month before returning to the WooSox. Back in Worcester, Downs started beating all – .438/539/1,031 splits with five homers and only six strikeouts as noted by Those of the Boston Globe Alex Spier.

In other words, Downs must have had a wild Saturday. The Red Sox issued a press release announcing his recall from Worcester at 6:24 p.m. — a little less than an hour before the first pitch. He returned to Boston for a rivalry game against the Yankees. He ran for JD Martinez in the eighth inning, and Alex Verdugo singled him to drive him in – the first run of his major league career. Two innings later, Downs singled to the right to drive in his first RBI and then came around for the winning run when Alex Verdugo threw it in again.

Per Speier, Downs appears to have made a major fix to his mechanics, making his recent crack particularly interesting. On Saturday night, he just enjoyed being the Jeter who beat the Yankees.

“He’s hit a lot of home runs in triple-A and Dugie says, ‘If he hits a home run, I’ll go crazy,'” Alex Cora said. “… Putting the ball in play in a game like this is fun and I’m happy for him.”

2. A reporter asked Cora if the Red Sox needed a Jeter to beat the Yankees. Kora laughed.

“We needed a Dugie to beat the Yankees,” he said.

Verdugo had a big night — his single in the eighth drove in the match-timing run, and his two-run single in the 10th helped the Red Sox walk away despite ongoing bullpen fights. The walk-off was the fifth of Verdugo’s career.

In the last 15 games, Verdugo has hit .306/.368/.452 with 13 RBIs and two homers.

“Dugie swings the bat well,” Cora said. “He stays on pitches. He’s been fighting for us lately and got a good pitch to hit, goes the other way and then at the end he used the count to his advantage and made another great swing. It was a good day for him.”

3. Rob Refsnyder put the Red Sox on a run at the bottom of sixth with a monstrous 436-foot homer to the left.

In the 10th, Refsnyder hit a lead-off single that sent Jarren Duran into third place and kick-started the Red Sox’s offense.

“It felt like we were putting out good bats and it felt like a one-run game when Rob hit the homer,” Cora said. “It’s like, ‘We’re one swing away from tying this.'”

4. The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the 10th, but after Anthony Rizzo doubled in the second run of the inning, Christian Vázquez knocked him out when he tried to steal the third for the second out. The Red Sox got away with no further damage.

Cora twice praised Vazquez for the throw in his post-game comments.

“That game of Christian at the end, we talked about the game in progress right?” said Kora. “And Rizzo took a chance there late in the game and we threw him out and we beat Stanton and gave us a chance to win the game. We’re just one shot away from tying the game there. So great that Christian kicked Rizzo out.”

Kevin Plawecki, meanwhile, started the game from behind the plate and recorded his first catch steal of the season when he knocked out Kyle Higashioka on the first steal attempt his first 183 games.

5. Josh Donaldson hit two opposite extremes in third for the Yankees. In the 10th, he bobbles a Xander Bogaerts grounder that could have been a game-ending double. Donaldson still recovered to initially throw Bogaerts out, but the grounder set the table for Verdugo’s walk-off.

This miscue from Donaldson overshadowed an impressive bare hand earlier in the game.

6. Kutter Crawford did well again – five innings, one run, four hits, six strikeouts and two walks. The lone run was a homer by Aaron Hicks at the top of the fifth.

“He was really good,” said Cora. “His pitches messed up, good speed, good cuter, good breaking ball. He hung a substitution there but one run, five innings. He was solid for us the last two. Very calm against a good batting team, worked forward and he kind of helped us reset that today. We have the chance to split up the series tomorrow.”

7. The Red Sox were without Rafael Devers, who will also miss Sunday’s game (at least) after suffering another back injury on Friday. Kiké Hernández, on the other hand, felt a tightness in his waist and will not be joining the team in either Tampa Bay or New York this week.

8. The Red Sox and Yankees will end this series on Sunday, beginning at 7:08 p.m

Cora was asked if he thinks Saturday’s win carries over to the rest of the season.

“It has to be broadcast at 7:05 tomorrow, that’s the most important thing,” Cora said. “We have Nick [Pivetta] up the hill and they’ve had a good ride. This is a good baseball team. …

“We have to finish games. We’re one spot away from finishing games and we haven’t done that all season. Hopefully we made progress against a strong opponent today.”

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