The Red Sox didn’t need a win on Monday, but it sure sounded like a good idea after four consecutive losses that included a sweep at the hands of the Orioles. It didn’t seem overly promising at first, as Drew Pomeranz was clearly not at his sharpest and put the team in an early hole, something that was become all too familiar of late. On top of that, the lineup had another frustrating performance for the early parts of this game. Marcus Stroman looked good for the Blue Jays, but it certainly felt like the Red Sox should have done more.
Things took a turn, though. Pomeranz continued to get himself into trouble before getting himself out of it, and he kept the team in the game long enough for the offense — led by a great night for Christian Vazquez — to mount a comeback and secure a victory.
Things got off to a fairly frustrating start for Boston’s offense, as it was a lot of hard-hit balls turning into nothing. They did get one hit on a well-hit ball to the right side that was stopped in the infield, but they also had three line outs.
After the Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the first, the Red Sox put together a nice two-out rally to at least put something on the board. It started with a soft flare out to left field from Hanley Ramirez that Steve Pearce lost in the lights and allowed the Red Sox DH to get to second base. The play has gone down as a double but was originally scored as an error. Either way, it put a runner in scoring position and he was moved to third by a Christian Vazquez single. With Brock Holt at the plate, Vazquez made an aggressive decision to try and take second base on a pitch in the dirt, and it paid off as the Blue Jays catcher Raffy Lopez threw it into the outfield and allowed Ramirez to score. With Holt at the plate, the Red Sox had to make their own luck and it worked out in this instance.
In the next inning, with the score still 2-1, Eduardo Nuñez came through with one of those big swings that have become so familiar since he’s come over from San Francisco. The infielder got a fastball right down the heart of the plate from Stroman, and he didn’t miss. Instead, he sent it over the wall in left field and tied the game at two.
After that, things got quiet for a while. They went down 1-2-3 in the fourth, and in the fifth a leadoff hit was immediately eliminated by a double play. The sixth looked like it could have been something as Mookie Betts led things off with a blast out to right-center field, but it was caught on an insane play by Kevin Pillar. Seriously, look at this. They’d get one single in the inning but no runs.
Meanwhile, Pomeranz was able to limit the damage but he didn’t make it easy to watch in the process. He got off to a rough start, something that has grown awfully familiar to Red Sox pitchers over the last week. His first inning started with a walk — one that was aided by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez — but was followed by a double play. No problem, right? Wrong. Pomeranz would walk the third batter he faced as well before allowing a double and a single. All of a sudden, the Blue Jays had a two-run lead.
From there, it was a whole lot of jams and not all that much damage. In the second, the Blue Jays got a couple more runners on base but they were stranded when Pomeranz got a huge strikeout against Josh Donaldson. After a quick third, the Red Sox lefty started the fourth out by allowing three consecutive hits to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead and they had two on with nobody out. Pomeranz got some help with a bad bunt in the next at bat and then induced an inning-ending ground ball. He came back out in the fifth and loaded the bases with just one out, but then was helped out by some defense. The second out came on a deep ground ball behind the third base bag, but Rafael Devers came through with a smart and strong throw to the plate to get the out. In the next at bat, Darwin Barney ripped a line drive but Pomeranz made a nice reaction and gloved it.
Despite four of his five innings being very shaky, Pomeranz came back out for the sixth, a decision that I was a little apprehensive about. Ryan Goins led things off by a little ground ball towards the mound that put him on second thanks to a throwing error, but the Red Sox stuck with Pomeranz and once again he got out of it. That would be the end of his night, and while his curveball was not effective and he couldn’t stop walking people, he kept the Red Sox in the game. It was, in its own, special way, an impressive outing.
So, that leads us to the top half of the seventh with Stroman out of the game and the Red Sox trailing by one. After Ramirez started things off with a single, Christian Vazquez gave his team the lead with one big swing on a home run out to left field. It’s been a very strange season for Vazquez, and one of the strangest parts is that all of his home runs have seemingly come in wildly clutch situations. From there, the Red Sox got a walk, a ground-rule double and an intentional walk to load the bases for Mitch Moreland. He didn’t have one of his doubles, but did reach on an infield single to give the Red Sox a 5-3 lead. After Xander Bogaerts walked with the bases loaded, Devers grounded into a double play to end the inning, but not before Boston took a 6-3 lead.
From here, it was up to the bullpen, and with the heart of Toronto’s order coming up in the seventh John Farrell first turned to Addison Reed. The righty did not disappoint, setting down the Blue Jays 3-4-5 hitters in order. The eighth belonged to Brandon Workman, and he similarly came through with a 1-2-3 frame. Craig Kimbrel came in with a three-run lead in the ninth and things did not go so well. He walked the first batter he saw, and after giving up a couple of loud outs Justin Smoak connected on a Kimbrel fastball to cut Boston’s lead down to one. After walking the next batter and freaking everyone out, he induced a pop out to end the game. It wasn’t the best outing we’ve ever seen, but a save is a save.
So, the offense came through in the end and the Red Sox avoided losing their fifth in a row. Pomeranz did what he does, even when his stuff wasn’t quite as sharp as normal and his command was way below his normal level. That is, he kept his team in the game. The offense took a little while to come through, but they eventually did. With the victory, and a Yankees loss, the Red Sox move back to 3.5 games up in the division. They’ll look to keep the good times rolling with Chris Sale on the bump.