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Red Sox 9, Angels 0: Happy Verdugo Day!

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The only thing that matters today is that Alex Verdugo is 25 and incredible at baseball.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox and Angels met up for the second game of their three game set, with Martin Pérez opposing Dylan Bundy for their respective teams.

Pérez didn’t have his best stuff early, and it showed. Were it not for a confusing Shohei Ohtani/Taylor Ward baserunning blunder, the Angels might have scored serious damage in the first inning. Pérez started the game by walking Taylor Ward, and then giving up a sharp single to Ohtani. Franchy Cordero barreled into the wall in foul ground in order to cut the ball off, and keep Ward from rounding second base. Ohtani never stopped running and realized too late that he had no base to run to. Maybe Ward should have tried to advance to third, maybe Ohtani should have stuck at first, once he saw the play developing in front of him. Either way, it was all around bad.

Fortunately, this bit the Angels, as Pérez tight-roped out of danger, yet again. This is becoming a running theme for Pérez this season.

Thankfully, the Red Sox brought their bats to this one. Alex Verdugo hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first, celebrating his 25th birthday in the process. J.D. Martinez hit a single, and Xander Bogaerts walked, and suddenly, Bundy was looking to be in his own spot of trouble. Bundy also walked the tight-rope, and also got out, relatively unscathed.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The next few innings were fairly quiet, the loudest noises coming from Martin Pérez jawing at the home plate umpire, arguing about the size of the strike zone (and to be fair to the umpire, the zone probably erred on the side of being larger, rather than smaller). This worked to the Red Sox benefit, as neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage on either side of the ball.

That changed in the bottom of the 4th, as Bogaerts led off with a double, and Rafael Devers walked, to set the stage for the inning. With two outs, Bobby Dalbec launched a pop up in the direction of the Monster. Justin Upton lined up the play, and appeared to have a play on it, but was just outside of his reach. The ball clanged loudly back into play, as Dalbec landed at second with a bases clearing double, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead, and control of the game. Franchy Cordero (yes, that Franchy Cordero) hit a rocket down the first base line to bring Dalbec home, giving the Sox a 4-0 lead. Cordero’s speed enabled him to get in to second on the play, which would have ordinarily been a single.

What’s better than a 4-0 lead? A 7-0 lead. That’s what the Red Sox found themselves having, courtesy a three-run home run by Xander Bogaerts, all the way Over the Monster, and into lower orbit. Verdugo singled, and so did Martinez, which set the play up for Bogaerts to knock all the pins down with a calculated strike that took Dylan Bundy out of the game. Suddenly that pitchers duel seemed so far away, and as unlikely as it may have sounded at the start of the year, Martin Pérez was the winner.

Pérez, for his part, was fine. He pitched six innings, gave up three hits, and struck out five. The lone problem is he walked four guys en route to this otherwise great performance. It was the usual brand of performance for Pérez. Tight-rope to tight-rope, with a few shutdown innings mixed in. If you told me he gave up 3 or 4 runs today, I would have believed it, just as much as I believe the 0 he actually gave up. It’s just the nature of how he pitches, and it’s worked out great for the Red Sox.

Franchy Cordero had his second double of the game, prompting questions of “just where was this bat earlier in the season?” Perhaps with Jarren Duran tearing the cover off the ball lately in Worcester, combined with seeing what a young hot-shot can do in the majors (Jarred Kelenic had a heck of a game yesterday for the Mariners) has lit a fire underneath Cordero. This double scored Bobby Dalbec to make it 8-0.

Rafael Devers kept the onslaught going, as he crunched a ball over the right field bullpens, for his 10th home run of the season, leading to a 9-0 lead. That was the last bit of offense the Red Sox mustered in this one, as they turned to their bullpen to lock down the rest of this game.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Phillips Valdez, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Austin Brice were tasked with locking this game down, and tagging the Angels with a series loss. The first two performed their roles admirably, with no issues (couple walks by Hernandez notwithstanding). Brice had a little more difficulty, as his pitches looked hittable, and what wasn’t hittable was nowhere near the plate.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 25-16, through the first quarter of the season. They go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:10 ET, as they attempt to vanquish Joe Maddon’s Angels.

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