Red Sox manager Alex Cora doesn’t expect people to forget about the guy they gave up for Alex Verdugo.
He just wants the Boston fans to appreciate the player they got when Mookie Betts was traded to the Dodgers.
“We believe in this guy,” Cora said after Verdugo banged a walk off single off the Green Monster to help the Red Sox rally from a four-run deficit and beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 on Friday night. “We got a good one.”
Verdugo had three hits to lead the Red Sox to their major league-best 23rd comeback victory of the season. The 25-year-old outfielder was acquired last spring for Betts, the 2018 AL MVP who went on to lead the Dodgers to the World Series title.
“I know everybody’s going to talk about that trade – forever, I guess,” Cora said. “But he’s a good player. And he’s young, and he understands what he needs to do to prepare on a daily basis. His at-bats are amazing.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had three of Toronto’s 16 hits, including his major league-leading 19th homer of the season, as the Blue Jays opened a 5-1 lead in the sixth inning. But the Red Sox scored three in the bottom half and tied it on Christian Arroyo’s towering solo home run onto Lansdowne Street in the eighth.
Toronto loaded the bases in the ninth as rain began to fall – keeping the inning going when first baseman Bobby Dalbec misplayed a foul pop-up with two outs. But Riley Adams hit a grounder in the hole and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez barely got the force at second.
Kike Hernandez led off the bottom half with a grounder and the throw from shortstop Bo Bichette pulled first baseman Rowdy Tellez off the bag. Tellez tried to put the tag on the runner, but the ball popped out of his glove and rolled away, allowing Hernandez to take second.
“Kike was busting down the line, forced a throw. Next thing you know he’s at second, in scoring position,” Arroyo said. “A hard 90 down to first base, making something happen. Good things happen when you put the ball in play.”
Verdugo lined one off the left-field wall, and pinch-runner Danny Santana scored easily.
“The game was obviously crazy, being down big at first and then chipping away,” Verdugo said. “When you’re at the box, you try your best to calm down, take deep breaths, relax, whatever. But when you have 25,000-30,000 people screaming and yelling and jumping up and down, it’s a little hard to get that tunnel vision.
“But at the same time it’s amazing. Your heart starts racing, everything feels good. What was sore before isn’t sore at that moment. You’re just kind of locked in,” he said. “It was very special, very fun.”
Dalbec also homered for Boston. Garrett Whitlock (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out three.
Rafael Dolis (1-2) pitched the ninth for Toronto.
Guerrero smacked a single and a double off the Green Monster before hitting a home run over it – a 443-foot shot off the DraftKings billboard above the wall in left-centre that made it 5-1. With a chance to complete the cycle in the eighth, he struck out looking.
Randal Grichuk also had three hits for the Blue Jays, who have lost four of their last five games.
Guerrero singled in the first, when the Blue Jays had three hits and a walk but managed only one run. He walked in the second, when they added three more hits to make it 3-0. He was stranded on second after his fourth-inning double.
Blue Jays: Activated 3B Cavan Biggio (neck sprain) from the injured list. He had not played since May 21. Santiago Espinal was optioned to Triple-A to make room.
Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was a late scratch from the lineup because his knee was sore after diving for an Alex Bregman base hit up the middle on Thursday night. The team hopes to have him back by Sunday.
LHP Steven Matz (6-3) goes for the Blue Jays against Boston righty Nick Pivetta (6-1).