‘Fired up’ Verdugo crushes HR in return to Fenway

MLB

BOSTON — Alex Verdugo had a two-run homer and four RBIs in his return to Fenway Park, and Luis Gil struck out six as the MLB-leading New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 8-1 on Friday night.

Verdugo spent four seasons with the Red Sox before being traded to New York in December in a rare deal between the AL East division rivals.

“To come over here, do what we did as a team and obviously the swing that I put on in the first to give us the lead, it was a big moment,” Verdugo said. “It felt like a lot of relief for me, and also just a lot of anticipation for this matchup.

“It was pure adrenaline, just fired up. Wasn’t really expecting to swing at the first pitch and to put it out of the ballpark and give us the early 2-0 lead was big. I kind of let a little yell out when I rounded first, and when I hit second, I saw my dugout going crazy, so I just kind of lost it again.”

Verdugo hit the first pitch he saw from Boston right-hander Brayan Bello to straightaway center field for his ninth homer of the season, scoring Juan Soto, who reached on a double. The 28-year-old right fielder added an RBI double in the fifth inning and a run-scoring single in the ninth.

“That’s really impressive,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I’ve been there, where you go back and play, and from my experience, it’s odd, it’s hard to normalize things. He was very calm before the game. In my mind, maybe he was a little nervous. But, he came right out and delivered a punch on the first pitch and didn’t stop. Pretty impressive performance, knowing it meant a lot to him.”

Verdugo’s 4 RBIs are tied for the most by any player in a game against Boston this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Gil (9-1) worked five innings, giving up one run on four hits with four walks. The 26-year-old righty threw a season-high 104 pitches. In his last nine starts, Gil is 8-0 with a 1.14 ERA, giving up seven earned runs over 55 ⅓ innings.

The Yankees (50-22) got a run in the fourth when Giancarlo Stanton led off with a single, and Anthony Rizzo walked. After Gleyber Torres grounded into a double play, it appeared Bello got out of the inning on Oswaldo Cabrera’s groundball to first baseman Dominic Smith. But, Bello’s error attempting to cover first allowed Stanton to score.

The Yankees added two runs in the fifth when Anthony Volpe singled to open the inning. Aaron Judge followed with a one-out walk. Verdugo’s double scored Volpe and sent Judge to third. After Giancarlo Stanton struck out, Bello’s outing was done. He was replaced by left-hander Cam Booser, who gave up a run-scoring single to Rizzo.

In the ninth, Yankees No. 9 hitter Jose Trevino hit a solo home run off right-hander Chase Anderson, his seventh of the season. With two outs, Soto walked and scored on a double by Judge. Verdugo followed with a single that scored Judge.

New York relievers Tommy Kahnle, Caleb Ferguson, Victor González and Michael Tonkin combined to pitch four scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Ferguson struck out all four batters he faced.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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