Boston Red Sox: 3 stars from dominant Wild Card victory over the Yankees

Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox
Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

3 stars of the Boston Red Sox Wild Card victory

No. 3: Alex Verdugo

It will get overlooked because of what happened afterwards, but Alex Verdugo nearly made a fatal mistake last night that could have turned the tides of the game. Giancarlo Stanton ripped a ball off the Green Monster in left field for the second time in the game, but Verdugo misplayed it, forcing Kike Hernandez to cover from center field and make the play.

Luckily, Hernandez was in the perfect spot, and Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin incorrectly assumed Aaron Judge would be able to make it home before the Red Sox relay team could. Nevin’s decision proved costly as Judge was promptly hosed at home, letting Verdugo off the hook.

But that’s not why Verdugo was one of the stars of the night. Even if this mistake wound up hurting the Sox, Verdugo more than made up for it in his next two at bats, as he ended up providing three late inning insurance runs that helped put the Yanks to rest.

In the bottom of the sixth, Verdugo roped a double down the right field line that ended up driving in Xander Bogaerts, pushing the score to 4-1. That was a huge momentum swing for Boston, as the score could have been 3-2 heading into the seventh, but ended up being 4-1 instead thanks to some big plays from Boston.

Verdugo would then all but end the game in the bottom of the seventh with a huge two run single that made the score 6-1. With the bases loaded and two outs, Verdugo got just enough of a high fastball to send it into the gap in left-center field. He was promptly thrown out a second base, but the damage had been done.

The opportunities seemed to find Verdugo all night long at the plate, and he took full advantage of them. Clutch hitting is the key to success in the postseason, because when a team strands runners on the bases, it can result in a momentum swing the other way. Verdugo ensured that wouldn’t happen to Boston last night, as he was the driving force that put the Yankees away in the late innings.