Enmanuel Valdez propels Red Sox past Tigers

Appearances were deceiving. Valdez hit two homers and drove in three runs as the Sox earned a 6-3 victory before a crowd of 33,806 at Fenway Park.

The makeshift lineup finished with 10 hits, four of which went for extra bases.

“We put pressure on them, ran around and it was fun today. It was good,” manager Alex Cora said.

The Sox (30-29) have won two of three games in the series with the finale Sunday afternoon. Brayan Bello will face Casey Mize.

At 28 years old, Smith is a veteran presence on the roster with big-market experience gained during his six seasons with the Mets. He arrived as a free agent on May 1 after opting out of a minor league contract with the Rays and started 23 games.

“You come in and work hard and you can play good baseball,” Smith said. “The coaching staff here is very professional and they prepare us. Games like this are ones we can rely on.

Valdez hit a home run in the top of the second inning against Reese Olson (1-6).

Duran, in a 2-for-29 skid, singled with one out in the third inning. He advanced to third on a Wilyer Abreu single and scored on Smith’s grounder to second.

Valdez doubled to left field in the top of the fourth inning. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Reese McGuire’s fly ball to left.

Smith drew a walk in the top of the sixth inning and scored when Valdez hit to right field, hammering an Olson changeup around the pesky pole. It was his last speech of the day.

“Today was one of those days where I wasn’t trying to do too much,” Valdez said.

Facing left-hander Andrew Chafin, Duran doubled with one out in the seventh inning and scored on a single by Rafael Devers.

Red Sox starter Cooper Criswell allowed 12 earned runs in 13 innings in his previous three starts. It was pretty much the same in the first round.

Matt Vierling lined the second pitch of the game to center field for a double. He scored on a single down the right field line by Riley Greene.

But Smith started a 3-6-3 double play to get Criswell out of trouble and he didn’t allow another run. The right-hander allowed four hits in five innings and struck out five with one walk.

Escaping greater damage in the first round gave Criswell a chance to relax.

“It was a great double play,” Criswell said.

Smith, who thought he should have played on Greene’s single, disagreed.

“That’s what we should always look to,” he said. “But (Criswell) pitched really well after that.”

Vierling doubled again in the top of the sixth inning. Criswell having thrown 83 pitches, the Sox went to escape artist Brennan Bernardino.

He hit Greene looking at a sinker. Wenceel Pérez followed with a line drive to the gap in right field. Ceddanne Rafaela sprinted to the spot and performed a spectacular dive.

Vierling was doubled to second to end the inning. Right off the bat, there was a 5 percent chance the ball would be caught, according to MLB’s tracking software.

Jackie Bradley Jr. won a Gold Glove for the 2018 Red Sox, so Cora knows how a gifted center fielder can be a game-changer.

“He’s elite at center. He is,” the manager said. “Anything that’s up in the air and left in rough order, I believe our outfield can catch it.”

Bernardino faced six batters and struck out five to bring his earned run average to 0.72 in 21 appearances. Brad Keller pitched the final two innings, giving up a two-run homer to Gio Urshela in the ninth.

This briefly caused Kenley Jansen to get up and walk around a bit, but there was no need.

The Sox have won 12 of their last 14 games against the Tigers.

Boston Globe today | May 31, 2024
WATCH: Friday’s sports show. Stories include: The Celtics are gearing up for an epic showdown with Kyrie Irving. And a trio of legends inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Peter Abraham can be contacted at [email protected]. follow him @PeteAbe.

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