Red Sox: Alex Verdugo “locked in” during clutch 10-pitch at-bat

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 6: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting a double during the eighth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 6, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 6: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting a double during the eighth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 6, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Alex Verdugo delivered a clutch hit for the Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox lineup was silenced by Michael Pineda through seven innings but once the Minnesota Twins turned the game over to their bullpen, the offense finally woke up. Boston rallied in the eighth inning to tie the game, culminating in one of the best at-bats we’ll see this season from Alex Verdugo.

A hit by pitch and a pair of walks loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, prompting the Twins to make another pitching change. Lefty Taylor Rogers was called in to face Verdugo for what proved to be an epic battle.

Rogers quickly got ahead in the count by throwing his sinker and slider for called strikes but Verdugo managed to lay off the same combination of pitches away to even the count. Rogers challenged him in the zone but Verdugo fouled off four tough pitches to stay alive while showing the discipline to hold off on a sinker that just missed low.

The former Twins closer only utilizes those two pitches and Verdugo knew he couldn’t beat him with either. He kept grinding to keep the battle going until he got the pitch he wanted.

It finally came on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, a sinker that stayed up on the outside part of the plate. Verdugo slapped it the opposite field down the left field line for a bases clearing double that tied the game.

"“I’ve got to be honest — I was completely locked in,” Verdugo said after the game, per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. “I just got a little lower in my stance, got right here, just trying to see the barrel out in front and to simulate just trying to keep a short swing and being direct to it. Lefty-lefty, it’s already a tough at-bat.”"

The Red Sox would ultimately lose the game when Adam Ottavino surrendered a bloop base hit to Max Kepler in the bottom of the ninth to allow the Twins to walk off with the win, snapping Boston’s nine-game winning streak.

The eventual outcome takes nothing away from Verdugo’s dramatic moment. The mental battle between the hitter and pitcher was incredible to watch and the clutch hit that put the Red Sox back in the game was the type of memorable moment that sticks with fans. It was reminiscent of the grand slam that Mookie Betts delivered following an 13-pitch at-bat against J.A. Happ in 2018.

Verdugo stumbled out to a slow start this season, failing to deliver a hit in the three-game series that saw Boston get swept by the Baltimore Orioles. He quickly turned things around with seven hits in his last nine games, including five multi-hit games.

The Red Sox fell shy of completing a four-game sweep in Minnesota but they remain at the top of the American League with a 9-4 record. Boston is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the major league-lead in runs scored and they lead the AL with a .273 AVG and .337 OBP.

Verdugo's amazing catch extends winning streak. dark. Next

Even on a day when this powerhouse offense was uncharacteristically quiet, Verdugo’s clutch double reminded us that this lineup can strike at any time so you can never count this team out.