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Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox

Red Sox: Alex Verdugo key to success in ALCS

  • Manuel Gómez - East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director Manuel Gómez, East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director
  • October 22, 2021

Alex Verdugo could be the key to victory for the Boston Red Sox.

The soft strumming of a large bass and the vihuela blared through the speakers in Fenway Park as Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo steps up to the plate. The trumpets followed as Mexican icon Vicente Fernández anthem “Volver Volver” covered the ballpark.

At that moment a part of Verdugo was transported back in time. The sounds of a sold out American League Championship Series crowd in Boston faded away as memories of his childhood streamed in. 

“For me, having it here, I’m not with my family a lot, so everytime I go up to the box and hear that song, it helps me lock in,” Verdugo said. “I think about my parents. I think about my dad. I think about being a kid.”

When Verdugo was a kid, his Mexican father, Joseph, always blared “Chente’s” rancheras around the house or while working in the yard. Now, every time the 25-year-old outfielder hears the song, he is reminded of how fortunate he is to be playing a game for a living.

In moments like these, standing all alone in the batter’s box where every pitch matters, it helps to be reminded that you’re only playing a game. Especially when it’s the first time you’re competing in the Postseason, like Verdugo.

How to volver to the World Series?

So far, one of the keys to Boston’s success this Postseason has been Alex Verdugo himself. It’s no surprise that when he’s neutralized, the Red Sox look flat. But when he’s on, so is the rest of the team. 

Take Game 3 as an example. With Jose Urquidy on the mound, Verdugo drew an 11-pitch walk in the second inning. The rest of the team never looked back, scoring 6 runs in that inning alone.

“I think what Dugie did in that at-bat is so big in setting the table and what it does is 11 pitches, I mean, it wears down a pitcher,” teammate Christian Arroyo said after Game 3. “For him to come in there on a guy who was kind of cruising and looked like he was handling it pretty well … it just changes the direction on how the game is going.”

In the following two games, Verdugo went 0-6 with a walk. Losing those games, the Red Sox now trail Houston in the ALCS, three games to two.

If the Red Sox are hoping to return — or volver — to the World Series, they’ll have to win the remaining two games against the Astros in Minute Maid Park. 

Unfortunately, for Verdugo, he won’t have the benefit of “Chente’s” sweet, soft voice to help him lock in.

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