Duran's 4-double game puts 26-year-old in elite company

Outfielder records feat achieved only 50 times in AL/NL history; Verdugo hits go-ahead homer in the 9th to secure Boston's sweep over Toronto

July 2nd, 2023

TORONTO -- The Red Sox have rhythm again. On Sunday afternoon, Jarren Duran provided the beat.

Duran became the eighth Red Sox player to hit four doubles in one game -- a feat that’s been achieved only 50 times in AL/NL history (since 1901) -- helping his team to a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays for a series sweep at Rogers Centre.

“It was one of those, in that it was a grind from the get-go,” said manager Alex Cora of the finale. “[We] had a great weekend. The way we played this weekend was fun to watch.”

Not much came easily for Boston, especially considering starter Garrett Whitlock left the contest after just one inning with right elbow tightness.

But as the bullpen held its own, anchored by four innings from Nick Pivetta, the offense clawed out enough production to chase Kevin Gausman out of the game after five frames. A two-run seventh and Alex Verdugo’s game-winning solo homer in the top of the ninth took care of the rest.

At the center of it was Duran, who finished 5-for-5, adding a single to his historic four doubles.

“I’m just happy I put together some quality at-bats for the team,” said Duran. “[Gausman] was out there pitching really good, so I knew we were going to have to grind some at-bats out with the way he was pitching.”

Duran and Rafael Devers were the only Red Sox batters to get hits off of Gausman on Sunday. When they did, though, it led to good things.

It started right away, when Duran put together an eight-pitch at-bat that resulted in the first of his four doubles.

Boston’s leadoff hitter sliced a splitter down and away that floated to shallow left field at an exit velocity of 62 mph. Third baseman Matt Chapman rushed back and dove, but the tricky popup landed on the turf, out of reach. Duran, meanwhile, darted to second base, sliding in head-first as Daulton Varsho’s throw from left field missed the mark by a lot.

“The baseball gods were looking out for me,” Duran said with a grin.

A couple of outs later, Devers singled to bring in Duran and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The duo did that same routine again in the third, though Duran’s double in that inning was way more conventional than his first.

It was the type of outing that has earned Duran continued playing time in an outfield that’s been competitive from the get-go. While Verdugo, Masataka Yoshida, Rob Refsnyder and Adam Duvall are also vying for at-bats, there’s added value in being a difference-maker.

“We will find at-bats,” said Cora. “I actually think it’s going to benefit some guys -- [Duvall], Alex and Yoshida -- to play [Duran] three or four times a week. Because he’s in a good spot right now. He’s a good player, we just, you know, we needed to be patient.”

The Red Sox have seen enough to warrant that patience. Duran, who started the season at Triple-A Worcester, was recalled on April 17 and wasted no time proving he belonged, posting a .396 average and a 1.061 OPS from that day through April 30. Those numbers naturally regressed in May, but the 26-year-old still holds solid offensive numbers this season -- all while drastically improving his defense.

Duran’s historic day capped off a weekend of offensive resurgence for Boston. If he was the heartbeat on Sunday, Verdugo was the shot of adrenaline.

“He’s always coming up clutch for us like that,” Duran said. “It was so cool to watch.”

Verdugo, who on Saturday declared he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat, once again came up with the game-winning swing in the top of the ninth. He made sure to savor the moment, staring long and hard as that ball traveled a Statcast-projected 415 feet to right field, then tossing his bat rather theatrically before rounding the bases to give his team a decisive 5-4 lead.

“The pimp job was amazing,” said Duran.

What did Dugie have to say for himself?

“I would agree,” Verdugo laughed. “But I want to still say it's probably an appropriate pimp. It wasn't like, you know, too aggressive or bad. It was more the excitement of the moment, a big swing for me just to finally have a little bit of a release and get some frustration out. … To put the boys up one run going into the ninth is huge.”

The baseball gods seemed to smile upon Duran’s teammate, too.