CLEVELAND — Alex Verdugo felt like his timing was out of sorts during different parts of the season.
He knew he could get to the fastball. He knew his bat-to-ball skills were elite. But something felt off. Something had to be corrected.
He always hit with an open stance, but figured by closing it slightly he would cut down all the excessive movement, getting him quicker to a spot where he could do damage.
There was only one issue. When he closed his stance slightly, it cut off his vision of the pitcher. Instead of seeing the pitcher with both eyes, he only saw the pitcher with his left eye. Seeing the ball? That was a problem, too. So he decided to gradually open his stance again. Getting back to the old, he thought, would lend itself to better results.
“I don’t cut off my eyes,” Verdugo said recently. “Before I was already closed and when I went to make my move I just had my [peripheral vision]. For me, it was just open up, stay relaxed, and it worked.”
It’s hard to notice the change. It’s slight. But Verdugo feels it and if you look close enough he, indeed, is more open, similar to his days as a Dodger.
Verdugo dominated at the plate in his team’s three-game sweep against the Guardians. He went 2 for 5 in the series opener Friday. He hit everything hard, prompting manager Alex Cora to call it Verdugo’s best offensive showing of the season.
“He was patient, he worked the count, he hit the ball the other way,” Cora said. “As far as the quality of the at-bats, tonight was his best night of the season.”
On Saturday, Verdugo continued his offensive display, belting a three-run homer off starter Shane Bieber in the sixth inning to help propel the team to a win.
Verdugo is riding a seven-game hit streak following his 2-for-3, three-walk effort in Sunday’s 8-3 victory, and is hitting .256/.305/.376.
Clearly, he’s seeing the baseball.
“Back in the day, it didn’t matter [that I was open], I would find a way,” Verdugo said. “And you know, I’m just going back to that. I just want to keep both my eyes on the ball.”
Cora reneged on his Friday comment after what he saw from Verdugo on Sunday.
“Today was his best day,” Cora said. “I mean, two singles and three walks, that’s hard to do.”
Unvaccinated and unavailable
Tanner Houck and Jarren Duran, who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, will go on the restricted list for the upcoming series against the Blue Jays because of Canada’s vaccine mandate. Houck will throw live batting practice against Duran Wednesday at Fenway. Duran and Houck are the only two that won’t make the trip … Infielder Yolmer Sanchez, who is not on the 40-man, will take Duran’s spot. Because it’s COVID-related, the Sox aren’t required to pick a player from their 40-man roster … Righthander Aaron Civale, Cleveland’s starter Sunday, played at Northeastern from 2014-16. The East Windsor, Conn., native was a third-round draft choice in 2016 by Cleveland … Chris Sale (right rib cage fracture) is slated to start Thursday for Double A Portland against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Sale is scheduled to pitch three innings … Connor Seabold will take the ball Monday against Kevin Gausman for the Sox’ first game of a three-game set with the Blue Jays. Michael Wacha vs. Ross Stripling is set for Tuesday, and Nick Pivetta vs. Alek Manoah will be Wednesday’s matchup … The Sox have won 9 of 11 against the Guardians and seven of their last eight at Progressive Field … J.D. Martinez has reached base safely in all 30 road games he has played this season. The last Red Sox player to do that was Carl Yastrzemski, who reached safely in his first 31 road games in 1975. Ted Williams had a 38-game streak in 1946 … The Sox left 16 runners on base, their most in a nine-inning game since stranding 16 in a 5-2 loss against the Yankees on Aug. 30, 2011 at Fenway Park … The Sox are 35-17 outside the American League East.
(Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.)