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Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 7: Walk early and often to a loss

Seven free passes by Joe Kelly ultimately spell dooooooom for the Red Sox.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday's game against the Blue Jays was not one anyone who's a Sox fan will want to remember.

It started with Joe Kelly apparently wanting to prove the old cliche about insanity being defined as repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome. In this case, the action was low balls outside to right-handed batters not being called strikes. And boy did Kelly test it, throwing eighteen balls in the first inning, and managing to load the bases twice and bringing the first run of the game in via the bases on balls. Things even got so bad that Kelly was starting to get strikes in that corner called as balls. The result was thirty-one pitches to get three outs; not exactly the way you want to start the game.

The second inning started out with some hope when Hanley Ramirez singled. However, Pablo Sandoval hit into what appeared to be a double play. A Red Sox challenge, however, showed that Sandoval was safe at first (after a seemingly interminable delay—insert your own "Panda is slow joke" here; I'll wait). On the other hand, because this is the 2015 Red Sox, and apparently we're not allowed to have nice things anymore, the successful challenge was rewarded by back-to-back strikeouts of Mike Napoli and Allen "Offensive Black Hole" Craig.

The bottom of the second proved more of the same—let's just say that after two innings, Kelly's line read as follows:

2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO, 2 E, 65 P, 30 S

You can do your own imitation of Munch's The Scream. Again, I'll wait.

The top of the third looked like there might be some promise. Xander Bogaerts singled, while Blake Swihart followed up with a nice eight-pitch at bat that unfortunately ended up nowhere. Mookie Betts got another single to bring a runner into scoring position. But again, this is the 2015 Red Sox, and the runner in scoring position got stranded when Dustin Pedroia struck out and David Ortiz flew out softly to left.

Of course, just to prove that this wretched game is also a fickle one, Kelly then got out of the third inning on just seven pitches.

The fourth inning proved even more maddening for Sox fans, as they managed to get not one, but two runners in scoring position with just one out. Unfortunately, one of the batters brought up to bring in said second runner was the aforementioned Black Hole, while the second, Bogaerts, grounded out to first, ruining yet another chance to put runs on the board.

Kelly's disturbing propensity toward walking batters continued in the bottom of the fourth inning; unfortunately, his luck ran out at around the same time. Devon Travis and Jose Bautista's well-executed double steal was wasted, largely because Edwin Encarnacion took an 80 MPH curveball over the heart of the plate out of the park to left center, and all of a sudden a 2-0 deficit became a yawning 5-0 chasm. Given that the Red Sox have been just 2-13 in the last 15 games in which their opponents score more than one run, the outcome now seemed more or less locked in.

The Red Sox would finally get on the board in the fifth inning, courtesy of a Mookie Betts double and a Dustin Pedroia single. Unfortunately, that would be as far as they would get offensively, even though Ortiz managed to single and Sandoval walked, bringing Mike Napoli up with the opportunity to tie the game with a single swing of the bat. Unfortunately, while there was a swing, it ended up going to right fielder Chris Colabello instead of going yard. But a run was at least an improvement over yesterday (small victories, eh)?

Kelly would breeze through the fifth inning much like the third, but would run out of gas in the sixth. Matt Barnes would enter in relief with two outs and an inherited runner. Unfortunately for Kelly's line on the day, Barnes couldn't prevent Donaldson from scoring Toronto's sixth run, courtesy of a wild pitch and a Bautista single. In the seventh, Barnes would be charged with his own earned run, on a Travis single that scored Ezequiel Carrera, who reached on a double. He held the losses to just one run, though, striking out Josh Donaldson to end the frame.

Not much to say about  the remainder of the game: but on a day in which the hits were split almost evenly (eight for the Sox, nine for the Jays), the runs sadly were not. Major-league pitchers walk batters at their own peril, and today it made the difference between a taut pitchers' duel and a rout.