The Boston Red Sox walked off the New York Yankees on Saturday night at Fenway Park, with Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs serving as the heroes in a 6-5, extra-innings victory.
Downs scored the game-winning run on Verdugo’s single in the tenth inning, as the two products of the Mookie Betts trade combined to produce a memorable night for the Red Sox, while capping off a whirlwind day for the 23-year-old Downs.
Just an hour before the start of Saturday’s game, the Red Sox announced Downs would be making his return to the big league club, among a series of roster moves. Something the infielder called crazy.
“It was crazy. I wasn’t expecting it,” Downs told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal after the game, as seen on the network’s postgame coverage. “I was getting ready for my game (with Triple-A Worcester), and they scratched me from the lineup, like an hour before game time… around 5:30 p.m. They told me to make the drive up, and here we are.”
Downs entered the game as a pinch runner for J.D. Martinez in the eight inning, making just his second career Major League appearance. Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s move ended up working out for all, as Verdugo would single him in to tie the game for the Red Sox.
Two innings later, the Red Sox lineup would turn back over, with Boston’s favorite Jeter coming to the plate with a chance to keep the line moving. On the first pitch he saw, he did exactly that, recording his first career base hit and RBI to get on base bring the Red Sox within one.
“Before going up to the plate, I kind of just said a little prayer and tried to forget about everything else and worry about the ballgame,” Downs said. “It worked out for me, so thank god for that.”
Following an advancement by Downs and Rob Refsnyder on a Xander Bogaerts groundout, Verdugo would once again come to the plate and smack a single into the outfield. Serving as the potential winning run, there was only on thing on Downs’ mind.
“Nobody was stopping me.
“I thank God for this opportunity. This place (Fenway Park) is magical,” Downs said. “We’re just trying to get this win. I don’t know, I told someone in the dugout ‘this is the fastest I’ve ever ran in my life.'”
The Red Sox now have an opportunity to tie the series with the Yankees. Down a pair of infielders, Downs will likely have an opportunity to once again impact a game against the team who made his namesake famous. As he said following Saturday’s win, “Pretty ironic… You can’t write a better story.”