The Red Sox got seven strong from David Price, while Xander Bogaerts gave him all the support he needed at the plate in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays Saturday afternoon.
Oh but it was a nervous start for David Price. Facing off against his old team, fresh off a legitimately bad outing against the Orioles, the Red Sox needed him to deliver, and he didn't look like he was going to do so. Sure, he struck out Kevin Pillar on three pitches, but after that it got ugly for a bit. Completely lacking control of his fastball, Price had to give Josh Donaldson a 3-2 pitch to hit, putting one over the heart of the plate and surrendering a double. That cost him immediately, as Jose Bautista managed to take him to the wall as well. The hit scored Donaldson, but Bautista hesitated rounding second and found himself out at third base on a close play that may not have held up under replay if the burden of proof to overturn wasn't so high.
But Bautista was out, and Price managed to blow a fastball past Edwin Encarnacion--albeit a middle-middle fastball--to end the inning. A warning shot had been fired, and it was enough to give the Jays a lead, but it wasn't serious damage. Or at least i wouldn't seem to be if Marco Estrada hadn't shut the Red Sox down so utterly in Toronto.
The bottom of the first made it look like there was more of that in store today, with Estrada getting through Boston's top three 1-2-3, and while the Sox threatened in the second, Estrada dug in and got a couple big strikeouts against Brock Holt and Christian Vazquez to end things. It wasn't looking like a big change was in store.
Then, leading off the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a ground ball back to the mound, and off of Estrada's ankle, reaching as Troy Tulowitzki had to change his route dramatically. It wasn't all that loud of a hit. Estrada stayed on his feet, and after a brief visit from the trainers, on the mound. People will point to that moment as a turning point in the game, but Estrada did manage to get a pop-up from Mookie Betts. And while Dustin Pedroia reached base, it was on an infield single that caromed of Josh Donaldson's glove at third. It was a ticky-tack threat that seemed to lack teeth.
Then Estrada gave Xander Bogaerts a fastball at the knees over the plate, and the game changed with one swing of the bat. Bogaerts found the monster seats for his first homer of the season, and put the Red Sox ahead 3-1. Hanley Ramirez came up shortly thereafter, and missed both a foul ball and a homer by a matter of inches as he found the wall in fair territory by the Pesky Pole, taking second and then scoring when Travis Shaw continued his early season tear with a base hit.
Now with a 4-1 lead, David Price just kind of made it work. That fastball never really got under control, but great pitchers don't need everything to work to put together a good game. Leaning heavily on an at-times devastating changeup, Price fought through the middle innings. Only once did the pitch really let him down in a big way, and that was mostly just Edwin Encarnacion being ridiculously strong, basically tapping an outside changeup off the end of his bat and somehow sending it all the way to the wall in center to plate Jose Bautista all the way from first in the top of the fourth.
From there, though, Price worked through relatively easily, making his way through the Blue Jays' order three times and striking out the side to end the seventh. From there, it was Koji Uehara for the eighth--he's looked every bit his 2013 self this season--working around a leadoff bunt single and Craig Kimbrel doing more disgusting things to opposing batters as he struck out the side in the ninth, cementing the win.
But I would be remiss to end this without mentioning a pair of defensive gems. First from Christian Vazquez, who spinned, sprinted, and slid to grab a pop-up behind the plate that probably never got more than 10-15 feet off the ground, ending the fifth. And then Hanley Ramirez--yes, Hanley Ramirez--making a tremendous adjustment mid-stretch to snare an errant throw from second and save the double play that erased the aforementioned bunt against Koji Uehara. Just an all-around well-played game from the Red Sox, who find theselves back up to two games over .500 with three straight wins at their backs.