Christian Vázquez was hunting a fastball from Tampa Bay Rays reliever Luis Patiño, and when the Red Sox catcher got it, he made his swing count with a two-run home run to lift Boston to a 6-4 walk-off win.
Vázquez, who started Game 3 on the bench before replacing Kevin Plawecki, crushed a 96 mph fastball and sent it 394 feet into the Green Monster seats Sunday night to cap off the 13-inning thriller at Fenway Park.
“He was starting with a lot of fastballs,” Vázquez explained after the game, as seen on MLB Network’s postgame coverage. “He’s got a heavy fastball so I was ready for a fastball in the middle, to drive it, and go home.”
It was a moment of jubilation for all those in attendance as Boston took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
“Yeah, it’s a big moment for us,” Vázquez said after the game, as seen on NESN. “It’s a big win. I think no matter what inning, we need to do the job, and somebody needs to do it and take charge there. And I did it. We played good and we’re ready for tomorrow.”
Patiño threw two fastballs to J.D. Martinez, who flew out for the first of the inning, and threw fastballs on each of his first three pitches to Hunter Renfroe. Renfroe earned a six-pitch walk before Vázquez came to the plate.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora was thrilled that Vázquez was able to step up in that spot.
“Christian, he works so hard on his craft,” Cora said, as seen on NESN. “He cares so much about this organization that for him to be in that spot and put a good swing and hit the ball out of the ballpark. I know it means a lot to him. It means a lot to us. It was a big swing.”
Like Vázquez and other members of the Red Sox, though, Cora noted how the series isn’t over. Boston will have the chance to advance to the AL Championship Series with Game 4 set for Marathon Monday at 7 p.m. ET.
“We’ve still got work to do,” Cora said. “We’re in a great spot, but that’s a good baseball team. Let’s be ready for tomorrow.”
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