The Boston Red Sox played two very different games during Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays.
And while the Red Sox offense was notably more productive in Game 2, one factor that stood out was Jarren Duran. The rookie, who briefly appeared in Game 1 when he struck out as a pinch-hitter for Michael Chavis in the bottom of the seventh, was the star in the nightcap.
Duran was responsible for driving in Boston’s second run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the second inning, then had a highlight-reel moment in the fourth when he was robbed of an inside-the-park home run that was scored as a triple and an error.
No matter how it was recorded, it still brought Kevin Plawecki in and Duran still was safe at home, and the hit still was good to put the Red Sox up 4-1. Duran said he didn’t mind the scoring decision and was just glad he could contribute to the team’s success.
“I was pumped,” Duran said over Zoom after the game. “I felt like I helped the team do something. It’s always a good moment to contribute to this amazing offense, so I was pumped. Maybe a little too excited, but you know, it happens.”
Starting pitcher Tanner Houck, who had a strong outing himself, was not surprised by Duran’s heroics on the base path.
“That was a crazy, crazy play for sure,” Houck said, laughing. “I’ve always known he was definitely the fastest guy out on the field at every point of the game. Seeing that was truly something I don’t think you’ll see again for a while.”
Cora’s praise was rooted in more than just Wednesday’s action. He also referenced Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees, when Duran used his wheels to reach base safely as Rougned Odor made an error on a routine ground ball.
“He put some good at-bats, but he’s a game changer,” manager Alex Cora said after the win. “He changes the game. That’s what we’re looking for. He’s a weapon and it’s fun to watch him run the bases.”
The rookie starred in his first career appearance batting ninth, which came days after Cora reshuffled the bottom of the order. Game 2 showed that the addition of a versatile Duran could mean those changes are worth keeping.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s games at Fenway Park:
? As usual, Rafael Devers was on fire for the Red Sox, but his outing ended late in Game 2 after an apparent injury. But Cora didn’t seem too concerned about the injury in his postgame press conference, which is good news for Red Sox fans.
While he was in the game, he was a critical piece of Boston’s lineup. He went 2-for-4 in the loss and was the only Red Sox player to record multiple hits in the outing, then was 2-for-3 with one RBI.
? In Game 2, Plawecki recorded his first three-hit game of the season, good to bring his average to .300. He was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk earlier in the day.
He spent 17 games on the injured list at the end of June, but since returning on July 10, he’s been mashing. After Wednesday’s games, he was 8-for-17 since returning to the roster.
“I don’t know how he did it,” Cora said. “I was joking with him, he had some paid vacation for a while there. He put some good at-bats in New York … he can hit the fastball, we know that. But today, he got a change-up, he got a breaking ball, he went the other way. All around it was a great day for Kevin.”
Cora said the team will “continue to be smart” with the catcher, who can also suit up at first base.
? In a tale of two starters, Houck had a much stronger outing in Game 2 compared to Garrett Richards in Game 1. Houck ended the night after four innings, striking out seven with two hits and one earned run. Richards, on the other hand, gave up four runs on eight hits, fanning just two in the same length of time.
? The series finale between the Red Sox and Blue Jays is Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET.