BOSTON — Adam Duvall couldn’t believe the similarities as he stepped back into the hitter’s box, once again his team’s latest hope at the end of a stakes-filled day following a gift from the Orioles.
Fortunately for Duvall and the Red Sox, Saturday’s finish was much better than Thursday’s opening day.
As Duvall’s 106.7 mph rocket blasted through the air and removed the top of the green monster an inch, Fenway Park’s new LED lights flashed in celebration of the 9-8 victory.
“Off the bat, more when he hits, I wasn’t sure if it was a homer or not,” Duvall said of the two-stage laser. “Then I saw them stop it. I saw the lights start flashing. So I mean, I was hoping it was like Homer. But I felt like I was still working on it because I wasn’t really sure.”
The sight of a mob of redshirts at home plate waiting for Duvall—plus the stress of a replay review—made him sure. It was the second of the day for the Boston freshman quarterback, part of a 4-for-5, five-RBI day in which he had the rarity of being caught one shy of the cycle.
On Opening Day, Yoshida hit what would have been a two-play ball to end the game, only for Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo to cruise in for the first out with a home run.
That got Duvall up to the plate, and he was hit on a three-pitch run by Felix Bautista to finish the 10-9 loss.
Duvall got an emphatic redemption two days later, hitting Bautista’s 1-0 heater, 99.7 mph for a paydirt.
“It was a very similar situation to how it all worked out [on Thursday]Duvall said. And with the foul and then having a chance to finish the game there, it was very strange to get up to the plate like, ‘Man, this happened two days ago.'” So just a slightly different result this time.
No one was more thankful for that than Chris Sale. Heading into Saturday, the seven-time All-Star was the obvious story — and it was Fenway’s first start since Game 5 of the 2021 American League Championship Series.
Sale was rocked to seven hits (including three homers) and seven runs while only lasting three innings. It wasn’t the comeback he had in mind after starting just two games in 2022 due to three freak injuries.
But his teammates lifted his spirits.
“This is a big time,” said Sale. “I left them all outside to dry tonight. I was as embarrassed as I’ve ever been on a baseball field. The bullpen couldn’t have come in and done a better job. Hell, I was out there throwing a batting practice. For them to get through the rest of that game with just one run, it was It’s great.”
The new-look lineup, which trimmed a 10-4 deficit Thursday to one round, once again kept coming. Down 7-1 on Saturday, they scored four in the third, two in the seventh, and then the two on Duvall’s clinching shot in the ninth.
The main reason the Red Sox signed Duvall is his right-handed power, which has to play to Fenway proportions. Just ask winning pitcher Kenley Jansen, who wiggled away from traffic in the top of the ninth to keep his team within striking distance in his Boston debut.
“I’m telling you, when it’s there, it’s there,” Jansen said. “You’re going to see this a little bit. So you have to ride that moment. That green monster, he’s going to wear that.”
The 20-degree launch angle in Duvall’s smash made it difficult to take down the beast, but it just worked.
“He smashed that ball,” said Red Sox coach Alex Cora. Without the wall that ball is in the hotel [behind the ballpark]. “
Meanwhile, McKenna’s error helped set the stage for the Red Sox’ first dramatic win of the season.
“I ran so hard at her, she was in the sky, and I guess I didn’t follow her all the way,” McKenna said. “He hit the butt of my glove and I just fell off. It was unfortunate timing.”
The Red Sox turned him into a sweet fortune.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Introvert. Award-winning internet evangelist. Extreme beer expert.”
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