The Red Sox and Blue Jays got started an hour late due to falling water, and that was even more noticeable as Boston was forced to play yet another long game. The Red Sox, as has been the case lately, got some great pitching but were almost undone by another rough one from the offense. Fortunately, they provided just enough to come away with a win after a long, long battle.
Once again, a lack of offense was the major story in this game. Are you getting as sick of reading that as I am of typing it? Probably. Anyway, this game actually got off to a slow start for both sides, although the Blue Jays certainly showed more signs of life against Brian Johnson than the Red Sox did against J.A. Happ.
Johnson, making a spot start after Doug Fister was forced to pitch in Saturday’s 16-inning affair against the Yankees, was employing the bend-but-don’t-break strategy in the early innings on Tuesday. In the very first at bat of the game the southpaw allowed a double to Jose Bautista. He’d also walk Justin Smoak after recording a couple of outs, but was able to escape the inning unscathed.
Things were even more precarious in the top half of the second as Johnson allowed a pair of singles and a walk with just one out mixed in. That led to a dangerous bases loaded situation with the top of the order coming up. Fortunately, Johnson made a big pitch and induced a massive popup from Bautista before getting Russell Martin to ground out and once again get out of the jam without allowing a run.
From here, the game slowed down a bit. The Red Sox got a baserunner here, the Blue Jays got one there, but neither team put forth a huge scoring chance. That led us to the bottom of the fourth with the score still tied at zero. It wouldn’t stay that way for long, as one of the coldest hitters in the freezing cold Red Sox lineup came through with a big swing. With one out in the inning, Chris Young got a changeup at his belt and yanked it into the Monster Seats in left-center field. Just like that, the Red Sox had a lead.
It wouldn’t last long at all, though, as Brian Johnson’s strategy failed in the top half of the fifth and he finally broke. The inning started with a strange play on a ground ball from Bautista. The Blue Jays slugger hit a ball with some weird spin out towards the hole in second base. Dustin Pedroia tried to get in front of it but instead kicked it over towards the right field line, allowing Bautista to reach second on what was called a double. From there, Johnson did get the first out of the inning but then the floodgates opened. Toronto got a double and a couple of singles and just like that they had a 3-1 lead. Johnson would get out of the inning without giving up anything else, but the damage was already done.
Both lineups would go down 1-2-3 in their next chances, leading us to the bottom of the sixth with Boston still trailing by two. The deficit would quickly be cut to just one, as Pedroia came through with a home run out to left field. Lately, it seems as if he’s been the only guy in the lineup to come through with big swings when they needed them, and that was a trend that continued on Tuesday. The Red Sox would get a couple more baserunners on a walk and a single, and a wild pitch moved both into scoring position with just one out. There would be no more big hits, though, with both Sandy Leon and Deven Marrero striking out.
With the deficit now only one, the Red Sox lifted Johnson from yet another solid spot start for the lefty in favor of Matt Barnes to face the middle of Toronto’s order. Barnes was up to the challenge, and Boston came out swinging in the bottom half of the seventh. Things started with a Brock Holt single, and after he moved over to second on a wild pitch Mookie Betts advanced Holt another base on a groundout. Andrew Benintendi then struck out, making it look like the Red Sox may spoil another chance. Instead, Pedroia came through with another big hit. This time, he rocked a double off the Green Monster to tie the game for the Red Sox.
So, with the game all knotted up, Boston sent Barnes back out for a second inning of work and things didn’t go as well. The righty allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the inning and give Toronto runners on the corners with nobody out. After that, Kevin Pillar hit a ground ball to Pedroia who made a great heads up play tagging Steve Pearce out rather than going to second base with the ball and finishing up the double play. That held Troy Tulowitzki at third and kept the game tied. For what it’s worth, I thought Tulo should have tried to score anyway, but it was a great heads-up play by Pedroia. Barnes took it from there and got a strikeout to end the inning.
The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in the eighth, which led to Craig Kimbrel coming into a tie game for the ninth. While the closer did allow a single to Josh Donaldson, he only faced three batters when Toronto’s third baseman was caught stealing second. The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, pushing yet another game into extra innings.
That brought on Brandon Workman for the tenth, and he continued to impress with a clean 1-2-3 inning. The Red Sox got two baserunners in the bottom of the inning, but some bad luck and bad execution ended any potential rally. Things started with Benintendi getting hit by a pitch. With Pedroia up, Benintendi ran for second but a ground ball was hit right at the bag. Tulowitzki was on his way over to cover for the steal attempt, so it was a gimme double play in a rough turn of events. Hanley Ramirez followed that up with a hustle double, but he couldn’t be knocked in as Mitch Moreland flew out to end the inning.
Workman was called upon for a second inning of work in the top half of the eleventh, and he wasn’t nearly as impressive as he was in his first frame. Here, he began things by allowing a leadoff double to Pearce followed by a single to Pillar to put runners on the corners. After Pillar moved over to second on a stolen bases, Workman couldn’t get the strikeout he so desperately needed. Instead, he allowed a sacrifice fly to Ryan Goins and the Blue Jays took the lead. He’d escape the inning without giving any more, but it was up to the bottom of the Red Sox lineup to score at least once in the bottom of the inning against one of the best relievers in baseball.
They did get off to a good start against Roberto Osuna with Jackie Bradley starting things off with a single and Leon following it up with an absurd bunt single in which he popped it over the charging defense. With two on and no out, it was an obvious bunt situation for Marrero, but he couldn’t come through. He failed three times in a row and struck out bunting in an awful, awful display. After Holt struck out, it was all up to Betts with two on and two out. The star outfielder did just that, ripping a single through the right side to knock in Bradley. Unfortunately, Xander Bogaerts -- who came in to pinch run — got a little too aggressive on the bases and was thrown out at third to end the inning.
Hector Velazquez came on for the twelfth and came through with a big 1-2-3 inning against the heart of Toronto’s order. After the Red Sox also went down 1-2-3, Velazquez was back out of the thirteenth. This was the Tulo Inning, and not in a good way for the Blue Jays shortstop. It started off well as he smashed a ball off the Monster that Benintendi misplayed. Benintendi deked Tulowitzki, though, and the shortstop stayed at first base on an awful baserunning mistake. During the next at bat, he got caught stealing on a play in which he looked like he was jogging. It was weird. This game is weird. The inning ended with the score still tied.
It remained weird in the next inning when the Red Sox struck out four times thanks to Bradley reaching on his K. After Velazquez came through with another scoreless inning — his fourth of the night — the Red Sox finally ended it in the bottom of the fifteenth. Here, Hanley Ramirez destroyed a hanging breaking ball and send the Red Sox home with a win.
This game was still another reminder that this offense needs work. They struggled for most of this game and looked a lot like they have lately. Still, the Red Sox won thanks to clutch hitting from Pedroia, Betts and most importantly Ramirez. Let’s go to bed.