By DOUG ALDEN Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Alex Verdugo singled home the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning on a fly ball that barely stayed fair at Fenway Park, giving the Boston Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins in a bizarre finish Tuesday night.
Umpires needed a few minutes to review Verdugo’s drive, which bounced off the low wall in right field just short of Pesky’s Pole, before officially declaring it a hit and the game over. That sparked a second round of celebrating by the Red Sox, who got 11 strikeouts from starter Chris Sale but little offense until the end.
“A lot of crazy stuff in this game,” manager Alex Cora said.
Reese McGuire had just tied it with a two-run single as the Red Sox rallied after allowing two runs in the top of the 10th. McGuire entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth and reached on a key defensive error when Christian Vázquez was called for catcher’s interference. The play helped Boston score once in the eighth and eventually force the extra inning, which featured more offense than the previous nine combined.
“The home plate umpire called it right away, so I knew I was going to be granted first base no matter what,” McGuire said. “Then when I saw the third baseman come in and field it and make a throw to first, no one was covering so Kiké (Hernández) intelligently just kept running to third.”
Donovan Solano was covering first, but he stepped off the bag before the ball arrived and McGuire ran out the play. Cora said he knew he had the option to take the interference call or the live play, which left Solano with an error and the Red Sox with runners at first and third.
“That was a great heads-up play by Kiké,” Cora said.
Max Kepler hit a solo homer for Minnesota in the seventh and Carlos Correa had a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Boston went up 1-0 in the first after a leadoff double by Verdugo and an RBI single by Rafael Devers. The Red Sox didn’t score again until the eighth and ended up leaving 13 on base, going 5 for 20 with runners in scoring position.
John Schreiber (1-0) got the win despite allowing two hits and a run in the 10th.
Jovani Moran (0-1) took the loss, yielding three runs on three hits in the 10th. Moran also threw a wild pitch that helped the Red Sox win their fourth in five games.
Sale’s 11 strikeouts were his most since striking out 12 on Aug. 13, 2019, at Cleveland. Sale, who had Tommy John surgery in 2020, threw 94 pitches.
“He probably had a little more in the tank but it’s too soon to let it go,” Cora said.
The left-hander had six strikeouts in the first two innings and eight through four, then ran into trouble in the fifth when he walked Michael A. Taylor, hit Kepler with a pitch and had no play after fielding a bunt by Willi Castro that loaded the bases with nobody out. Sale struck out Solano, then left fielder Masataka Yoshida did a nice job running down a sinking drive by Correa, holding him to a sacrifice fly that tied it 1-all.
Sonny Gray finished with seven strikeouts and held the Red Sox to one run and seven hits over five innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Fans welcomed back Vázquez, the longtime Boston catcher who was behind the plate for the Twins in his first game as a visitor at Fenway Park. The Red Sox showed a tribute video before the second inning for Vázquez, who was drafted by Boston in 2008 and was a key member of the 2018 World Series championship team.
Vázquez spent his entire career with the Red Sox before he was traded to Houston last August, adding a second World Series title. He signed as a free agent with Minnesota.
A pair of ducks made a quick stop in right field in the bottom of the second, waddling across the grass with no regard for the ongoing game or chuckles and cheers coming from the fans. The ducks flew off before the top of the third, heading north over the Green Monster toward the Charles River.
Twins: INF Jorge Polanco (left knee inflammation) took his rehab assignment to Triple-A St. Paul after starting at Class A Fort Myers. Polanco could make his season debut this weekend when the Twins return from their seven-game trip.
Red Sox: 2B Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup with tightness in his right hamstring. Hernández took over at second for the series opener. … Cora said LHP James Paxton will make a relief appearance for Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday.
Twins RHP Joe Ryan (3-0, 6.92 ERA) faces RHP Corey Kluber (0-3, 6.92) in the middle game of the series Wednesday night.
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