One big swing from Jose Bautista was the difference Sunday afternoon, as the Red Sox failed to complete their sweep of the Blue Jays, falling 3-1 in Fenway Park.
The first four innings of this game will show zeroes from both sides, but this was not the sort of pitchers' duel that promised to last all game long. Both Rubby De La Rosa and R.A. Dickey started clean enough, combining to retire nine of the first ten batters to step up to the plate. But it didn't take long for the offenses to start threatening.
The Red Sox enjoyed the first serious scoring chance of the day, with Xander Bogaerts and Allen Craig reaching base to start the bottom of the second. Dickey, however, proved up to the task of escaping the situation, his usual knuckleball getting him past Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez in order to end the inning.
That was the first of a series of sloppy frames for both pitchers. De La Rosa would also allow the first two batters he faced in the next inning to reach base, ultimately facing a bases loaded situation after Jose Bautista added an infield. De La Rosa would escape by striking out Edwin Encarnacion on a 2-2 slider, turning the mound back over to Dickey, who went right ahead and put the leadoff runner on again.
Where Dickey managed to right the ship before taking any damage, however, De La Rosa just got worse. Another three-single inning in the fourth was only scoreless thanks to a double play ball from Danny Valencia, and when he started off the fifth with a walk and a single, Red Sox fans had to know it was only so long before all the baserunners finally came back to haunt him.
As it happened, though, Jose Bautista was due up, meaning it was actually not long at all. Falling behind 2-0, De La Rosa came home with a slider that crossed the plate middle-up, in about the worst possible place a slider ever could. That sort of pitch doesn't get by Bautista very often, and today was no exception. Toronto's slugging outfielder connected with a blast over absolutely everything in left field, leaving the Red Sox in a 3-0 hole.
Boston would get one run back in the top of the sixth, Xander Bogaerts capitalizing on a leadoff double from Daniel Nava to bring the Red Sox within a pair. But that was it for the day. Even as Steven Wright kept them within striking distance, firing off five scoreless innings of relief, Brett Cecil managed to save Dickey a second run by working around the leadoff double he allowed to Mookie Betts in the eighth, while Casey Janssen mopped up the final three outs in the ninth, ending Boston's hopes for a rare sweep.