BOSTON -- The 2023 Red Sox have a flair for the dramatic.
Saturday marked Boston’s third walk-off of the season and the second for Verdugo, who also ended it with an RBI single on April 18 against the Twins. In that game, the celebration was momentarily paused as the Red Sox awaited a replay review to confirm the ball was fair. This time, there was no doubt.
Down one run in the 10th, automatic runner Enmanuel Valdez quickly scored to tie the game on a single by Christian Arroyo, before Connor Wong moved Arroyo into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. With Verdugo at the plate, Wong advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring the winning run on Verdugo’s single to left.
The Red Sox set a season high in hits (16), with the bottom four in the order responsible for nine.
Arroyo went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Wong set a career high with three hits.
“The more he plays, the better he’s looking,” manager Alex Cora said of Wong. “ … Defensively, obviously he’s becoming a game-changer, throwing people out, and behind the plate obviously calling the game. But offensively, little by little, you can see him gaining confidence.”
Though the Fenway faithful were rewarded with a dramatic finish complete with an LED light show, the extra-innings win was slightly dampened by a blown five-run lead earlier in the game.
With a 6-1 lead in the seventh, Richard Bleier gave up a solo home run to Andrés Giménez to lead off the inning. Ryan Brasier then came in and loaded the bases on two walks and a single before Josh Naylor hit a bases-clearing double off John Schreiber.
“We gotta throw strikes,” Cora said. “ … We can’t go to the same guys every time. We didn’t do a good job throwing strikes and [the Guardians] did what they do: put the ball in play, put pressure on us. Obviously it wasn’t easy, but we kept grinding. I think [Brennan] Bernardino did an amazing job in that [10th] inning. They score one, so be it. But he limited the damage, that’s what you do in extra innings, and gave us a chance to win the game.”
Bernardino earned his first career win just five days after he was called up from Triple-A Worcester in the corresponding move that sent Brayan Bello back down. Bello rejoined the rotation on Friday after Garrett Whitlock was placed on the 15-day injured list with right elbow ulnar neuritis.
In his first start back, Bello was put in a good position early thanks to Rafael Devers’ three-run blast in the first inning, the third-baseman’s AL-leading 10th of the season. Bello went a season-long five innings, giving up one run -- a home run to Josh Bell -- on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
In the third inning, Bello was delivered a pair of clippers to trim a hangnail on his right index finger. Then in the fifth, Bello had another mound visit with Cora and trainer Brandon Henry after a blister on his finger began bleeding.
Following the visit, Bello threw a couple warm-up pitches and walked his next batter before making a slick play to end the inning. Bello said via translator Carlos Villoria that the blister was a result of his grip on his slider and that he “felt good” and didn’t expect it to take long to heal.
“That was a good one,” Cora said of Bello’s defensive play. “He battled today, he was really good. I think early on, he got that ground-ball double play that slowed him down, was able to use his changeup in certain counts, and although the strike-throwing was iffy, kind of like 50-50, he made some pitches when he had to.”