In Alex Verdugo’s first 50 games of the season, through June 1, he was hitting .292/.348/.465 with seven home runs. In his next 29 games, prior to Wednesday’s series finale against the Angels, Verdugo was at .252/.336/.378 with just two homers.
Verdugo was 1 for 4 with an RBI single on Wednesday afternoon in the Red Sox’ 5-4 loss. He’s still hitting .276 with a .771 OPS, but if anyone needs an All-Star break, it might be Verdugo. The outfielder is nearing unchartered territory, at least according to his resumé. Verdugo has yet to log more than 377 plate appearances in a season. He’s now at 342.
“It’s funny, because he’s not hitting the ball in the air, but he’s actually kind of like, collapsing on his backside,” manager Alex Cora said prior to the game. “And he’s getting a lot of offspeed pitches. So instead of actually hitting the ball in the air, he’s a little bit out in front and he rolls over.”
Verdugo is prone to hitting ground balls. He carried a 51.4 percent ground-ball rate heading into Wednesday. He’s a key part of what the Red Sox do and is a fixture in the two-hole because Cora has said that he believes Verdugo is the most complete hitter on the team.
Verdugo has said in the past that when he struggles he opens up on his front shoulder a bit early. It’s a mechanical tweak that often gets him back to driving the ball with authority.
“The good thing with him is he’s so simple,” Cora said. “We should get him back sooner rather than later. It’s more about him collapsing and not being able to stay back, and that’s why he keeps rolling over on offspeed pitches.”
The Sox did not make a roster move before the game despite Marwin Gonzalez (right hamstring) and Danny Santana (right quadriceps) nursing injuries.
Kevin Plawecki, out since June 21 because of a strained left hamstring, was on the field doing drills before the game but was not activated.
That left backup catcher Connor Wong as the only healthy position player on the bench.
Cordero works at first
Triple A Worcester outfielder Franchy Cordero made his first professional start at first base on Wednesday as the Sox work on making him more versatile. Cordero has only played outfield in the majors but was a shortstop from 2012-15 after signing with the Padres … Lefthanded reliever Bobby Poyner, who appeared in 33 games for the Sox from 2018-19, was released off the Worcester roster. He allowed 22 hits and 14 earned runs over 13 innings for the WooSox … Angels second baseman David Fletcher extended his hit streak to 21 games with a first-inning single … Shohei Ohtani set the record for most homers as a Japanese player, passing Hideki Matsui. Matsui released a statement via the Angels. “32 home runs in a season is just a passing point for a hitter like Shohei,” Matsui said. “I was once considered a long-ball hitter in the majors, but I believe that he truly is a long-ball hitter. Furthermore, he is an amazing pitcher. He exceeds what is considered conventional for a major league player and there is no one else like him.”
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Anaheim, Calif.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.