The Red Sox built their lead in the AL East to two games Friday night in dominant fashion, driving Marco Estrada out of the game early and scoring run after run in support of Rick Porcello who, frankly, didn’t need all that much help.
It was not a good night for the Blue Jays, and not just because the Red Sox were dominant. Frankly, the Red Sox only got out to a big early lead thanks to the failures of Toronto’s defense. Michael Saunders misplaying a fly ball from Mookie Betts didn’t necessarily turn a single into a double, but the ball hopping over his head to Kevin Pillar may well have given Dustin Pedroia the extra seconds he needed to race all the way home from first to put the Sox ahead 1-0.
An RBI single from Dustin Pedroia in the second got through the infield to make it 2-0, but wasn’t really a matter of defensive ineptitude. in the In the third, however, a Hanley Ramirez pop-up fell between Saunders and Encarnacion to put two on for Travis Shaw, who hit what had a chance to be a sacrifice fly. Instead, it was a dropped ball from Melvin Upton, letting Mookie Betts score from third easily and advancing Hanley Ramriez as well, who scored from second to make it 4-0 on a Sandy Leon single.
It certainly wasn’t a good night from Marco Estrada, who was wild at best and getting stung at worst, but with the defense making things that much harder, the Jays had to turn to their bullpen after just seven outs. With expanded rosters going through a bunch of arms won’t kill Toronto’s bullpen, but it doesn’t help them any.
The Jays would briefly make this a game again...but not really. Rick Porcello had cruised through the first two innings, but had his share of misfortune in the third, when the Jays scored two runs on a close ball four, a couple seeing-eye singles, and a bloop back of second base. Given how the Sox scored their first few, they couldn’t really complain all that much about the ill-deserved runs, and with Porcello quickly getting three easy outs on four pitches on a strikeout of Josh Donaldson and a double play from Edwin Encarnacion, it was clear that he wasn’t letting the bad bounces get to him.
And unlike Estrada, aside from the small bit of bad luck, Porcello was his usual excellent self. In a park where Porcello’s old home run tendencies might have cropped up, the Jays only got a couple long fly ball outs. Most of their hits came on the ground, where the Sox will exchange a few singles for outs and the potential for double plays, particularly when so many of Porcello’s other outs came by way of the K—a surprising but pleasant development that has persisted throughout the season.
As Porcello worked through the end of the seventh, the Blue Jays bullpen was getting carved up. The Sox quickly got a fifth run in the fourth when a Dustin Pedroia sacrifice fly let Brock Holt score, then after playing things close for a couple innings, they really went to town in the seventh. Xander Bogaerts got things started with a fly ball that just kept on carrying until it cleared the wall in left field to make it 6-2, and things didn’t get any better for Scott Feldman. A double and an error put two men on for Hanley Ramirez, who maintained his torrid pace by going to dead-away center for the second long ball of the inning. The Sox put up two more off of Ryan Tepera on hits from Travis Shaw, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Dustin Pedroia to make it 11-2 before the inning was over.
The Sox would end up joining the unearned run party before all was said and done, with Deven Marrero booting a ground ball in the eighth to let the Jays score a third, but even then they were good to respond with two more in the ninth. With the Toronto fans long departed and the subs in the game, the Sox finished the night with a 13-3 win, and a two-game lead on the Jays.
It’s damn nice to win such a huge game in dramatic fashion, but enthusiasm should be tempered. Of the three games this weekend, this opener was very much the one the Sox were most likely to win. Given the way Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz have pitched of late, the Sox aren’t going to take the field expecting to lose, mind. It’s just going to be harder. Tonight they did what they were supposed to. If they can take just one of the next two, they’ll have done as much as they could have hoped.