BOSTON (AP) — Rob Refsnyder has learned just how fleeting opportunities are in the major leagues, bouncing around to five different teams in seven seasons.
The 31-year-old is already feeling like his sixth stop in Boston is the one he’s been waiting for.
Refsnyder hit a two-run homer in the third inning to help the Red Sox post their third series sweep of the season, powering past the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Wednesday night.
In just 10 games, Refsnyder has 11 hits in 27 at-bats with five RBIs.
“So many parts of my career early on I wasn’t excited or happy with how I was playing,” he said. “I think the Red Sox really believe you get to the big leagues, you’re not a finished product, you can keep getting better. … They have really been helping me develop still at 31. Lucky to have that.”
Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo each added a two-run double as Boston won for the eighth time in 10 games. Michael Wacha (6-1) pitched six innings, allowing two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts to help the Red Sox improve to a season-high eight games above .500.
“He gave us what we needed,” manager Alex Cora said of Wacha, who has held opponents to a .125 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Javier Báez hit a two-run homer for the Tigers, who have lost nine of 11.
Tarik Skubal (5-5) lasted 4 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He has lost his last three starts.
“You want to salvage a win. We jumped out ahead today and couldn’t finish the game in the positive,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.
Báez put the Tigers in front in the first, driving Wacha’s first-pitch fastball into the seats above the Green Monster for his sixth home run of the season. It extended his hitting streak to seven games, one night after he finished a double shy of the cycle.
Báez has three homers in his last five games after hitting just one in the previous 45 games.
The lead lasted until the third when Duran tied the game, ripping a line drive into the left-field corner that scored Christian Vázquez and Bobby Dalbec.
Refsnyder was next and recovered from an 0-2 count to lift a fly ball to left-center that hit off the lip of the Monster. It was originally ruled a double, but then deemed a homer after a quick review by umpires.
The drive was Refsnyder’s first homer for Boston since signing as a free agent in December.
Detroit had runners at the corners with no outs in the sixth, but Wacha escaped by striking out Harold Castro and Robbie Grossman before Spencer Torkelson lined out to center.
Cora said the way the Red Sox have been able to combine timely hitting with good baserunning and solid defense is encouraging.
“To be able to put pressure in different ways, not only in the batter’s box, is good to see,” he said.
Red Sox: Cora said Duran won’t travel with the team for its three-game series next week in Toronto because he is unvaccinated against COVID-19 and under Canadian rules is not permitted to enter the country.
WHAT A NIGHT
Red Sox rookie Jeter Downs didn’t exactly have the major league debut he wanted at the plate (0 for 4), but it didn’t make the night any less memorable.
“That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I still can’t believe it happened. I still can’t believe the game’s over. It felt so fast,” Downs said. “It didn’t turn out the way I wanted to, but oh well. The team got the win.”
Along with having several family members in attendance, the 25-year-old also got a pregame congratulatory tweet from Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, who met his namesake a few years ago.
“Congratulations and good luck… unless you are playing the Yankees,” he wrote in the message.
Tigers: RHP Rony Garcia (1-2, 4.97 ERA) will be looking for his second straight victory when he takes the mound to open Detroit’s three-game series at Arizona on Friday.
Red Sox: RHP Nick Pivetta (7-5, 3.31) is on the mound as Boston begins a three-game series at Cleveland on Friday.
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Kyle Hightower, The Associated Press