Duran shows off wheels, helps Sox split DH

July 29th, 2021

BOSTON -- As soon as the ball smacked off Jarren Duran’s bat and headed toward the gap in right-center, everyone in the Red Sox dugout stopped what they were doing to watch the kid run.

The reaction in the crowd was much the same. All eyes were focused on Duran as he went full-speed ahead for 360 feet.

And this is why many people didn’t initially see the slight bobble by Blue Jays outfielder George Springer off the carom at the base of the garage door in center field that led to the ruling of triple and an error rather than an inside-the-park homer.

Triple? Homer? It didn’t much matter. Duran electrified Fenway Park with his mad dash in Game 2 of Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader, providing the must-watch moment in a 4-1 win by the Red Sox. Boston lost Game 1 by the same score.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora immediately made sure the two people closest to him in the dugout were keeping their eyes in the right place.

“I told [hitting coach] Timmy [Hyers] and [outfielder] Alex [Verdugo], ‘Just look at him,’ because that’s how fast he is,” Cora said. “He’s a game changer. His speed changes the game and that’s what we’re looking for. It’s a weapon and it was fun to watch him run the bases.”

When did Duran first know he might be able to touch them all?

“As soon as I got to third, [third-base coach Carlos Febles] started waving me and I was like, ‘I’m absolutely gassed,’ and I was just hoping I could make it to home without falling,” said Duran.

There would be no fall. Just a head-first dive in which he got his hand down to just beat the throw home. As it turns out, Blue Jays catcher Reese McGuire dropped the ball, so he would have been safe no matter what.

Duran motored around the bases at a sprint speed of 29.3 feet per second, according to Statcast. The league average is 27 feet per second.

“Duran’s a fast guy, let me tell you that. That’s the only way you can score on a ball like that,” said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. “But that’s one of those that the third-base coach was pretty aggressive sending him home. It was a close play and we dropped the ball, but it’s one of those that the third-base coach never gets credit. That was a good send by that third-base coach.”

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Boston's No. 3 prospect, Duran has played just 10 games in his career so far, but he’s already created two moments to remember on the bases.

The first was against the Yankees on Saturday, when Duran hit a grounder to second and Rougned Odor booted it because he was in a rush to combat Duran’s speed. On that occasion, Duran never stopped running and somehow wound up on second base.

But this play on Wednesday night was at another level entirely.

“That was a crazy, crazy play, for sure,” said Red Sox righty Tanner Houck, who went four electric innings (two hits, one run, seven strikeouts) in Game 2. “I’ve always known he was definitely the fastest guy out on the field at every point of the game. Seeing that was truly something I don’t think you’ll see again for a while.”

At the end of the play, Red Sox announcer Dave O’Brien exclaimed to his viewers on NESN, “He was an absolute blur! And an inside-the-parker.”

O’Brien wasn’t the only one to think so, but it wasn’t an easy call for official scorer Chaz Scoggins to make. It was definitely one that could have gone either way.

“I’m not a scorekeeper, I’ll stay away from that,” said Cora.

Duran, who was in an 0-for-12 slide leading up to that at-bat, was just happy to provide a burst of energy for his team.

“I was pumped. I felt like I helped the team do something and it’s always a good moment to contribute to this amazing offense, so I was pumped. Maybe a little too excited, but it happens,” said Duran.

It would have been the second homer of Duran’s career. His first was in Buffalo against the Blue Jays on July 19.

“I’ll take the triple,” said Duran. “I mean, I guess, my laundry-cart ride doesn’t become official until I hit a real home run.”

You get the feeling there are many more mad dashes and laundry-cart rides in Duran’s future.