This was not a good game as the Red Sox continue to try and lock up the division. They got a poor and worrisome performance from Drew Pomeranz as he looked as bad as he has in at least three months. Meanwhile, the offense wasn’t anything to write home about and the Red Sox lost both Eduardo Nuñez and Mookie Betts to injury. The former re-aggravated his knee and this non-doctor’s eyes didn’t think it looked good. The latter, meanwhile, had his wrist bothering him and this non-doctor feels as if that one probably isn’t as bad, though it wouldn’t be entirely shocking if he got Tuesday off. If you are looking for a positive in this game, you can at least hang your hat on the bullpen which came in, tossed seven and allowed just one run.
Pomeranz was the clear takeaway from this game, and for the first time in months that is not a good thing. He has had some shaky moments here and there during this strong run of pitching since June, but this is the first time we’ve seen him look truly bad in an outing. His velocity was way down with his fastball sitting around 89 mph. Even worse, he couldn’t command anything and was leaving these slow pitches in very hittable locations. As you can imagine, this was not a recipe for success, though things could have gone better with superior defense and luck.
Pomeranz only allowed one hit in his first inning of work, but it was surrounded by a couple of relatively loud outs. Or, at least, they weren’t overly quiet. Oh, and by the way, that hit? Yeah, that was pretty loud itself. It came off the bat of Josh Donaldson and it in the form of a no-doubt home run off the light stanchion in left-center field to give Toronto a 1-0 lead just two batters into the game.
The second inning made things much worse, though this is also where some factors outside of Pomeranz came into play. The Red Sox had actually taken a 2-1 lead heading into this inning — more on that in a second — but they wouldn’t hold it very long. The southpaw started things off by allowing a hit, though he quickly cancelled that with a routine double play ball. Then, things fell apart starting with a walk. After that, he allowed a decently hit infield single over to the right side. It was clearly a hit and not an error, but to me it looked like a play that Deven Marrero usually makes but just couldn’t get to in this instance. Then, with two on, Luke Maile hit a little pop up towards first base. Hanley Ramirez couldn’t get to it and opted to play it on a bounce, but the ball had such spin that it bounced away from Ramirez. Pomeranz didn’t get over to cover first — it was a mistake on his part but also some awful luck because with a normal bounce Ramirez could have easily taken it to the back himself — and Maile reached to load the bases. From there, it was hard contact as Pomeranz allowed back-to-back wall-ball doubles to give Toronto four runs and a 5-2 lead.
The lefty came back out in the third and after immediately allowing a single he was lifted from the game. He lasted only two-plus innings and allowed those five runs, all of which were earned. There were some real causes for concern in this outing, something we’ll get to more in-depth on Tuesday. However, it’s important to remember that this was his first truly bad outing in months. For his part, John Farrell deserves some credit for getting his pitcher out early when it was clear he didn’t have anything.
As for the Red Sox offense, it wasn’t a disaster of a game (aside from losing Nuñez again, of course) but it wasn’t a great one either. They, like the Blue Jays, got off to a hot start with Xander Bogaerts leading the game off with a single and Nuñez following it up with a double to put two in scoring position with nobody out. Both would end up scoring, but they both came home on ground balls which effectively killed the rally. Two runs in the first inning is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it seemed like it could have been more.
From there, the Red Sox didn’t get much of anything going against Brett Anderson in the next few innings. Though they’d get at least one baserunner leading up to the fifth, they never really threatened to score. That changed in that fifth inning when they’d get back on the board. That rally started with a Bogaerts walk that was followed by a base hit from Sam Travis, who came in for Nuñez. Unfortunately, Travis got a little greedy on the hard-hit ball off the Monster and was thrown out at second for the inning’s second out. Mookie Betts followed that up with a bloop single of his own to score one run, but Travis’ baserunning mistake helped make that inning quicker than it needed to be and it would end with a 5-3 lead for the Blue Jays.
The Red Sox offense wouldn’t do too much more for a couple of innings until the eighth. The bad news is that this was when Betts left the game with his wrist injury. The good news is his replacement was Andrew Benintendi, and the rookie took a fastball up in the zone and smashed it over the wall in center field. It was only a solo homer so it didn’t tie the game, but it did bring Boston within one.
With Pomeranz leaving so early, it was up to the bullpen to cover a lot of innings in this one and, as they’ve been all year, they were up to the task. Austin Maddox was in there first, and though he threw a lot more pitches than he’d have liked in his second at bat against Kevin Pillar he tossed 1 2⁄3 scoreless frames. Next up was Blaine Boyer, who came in for 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings before giving way to Carson Smith for two scoreless. Addison Reed came in last, and he couldn’t keep the scoreless streak going as he allowed a solo home run in the ninth.
So, the Red Sox couldn’t creep any closer to a division title and actually lost a game in the standings with the Yankees beating the Royals earlier in the afternoon. The magic number stays at three to clinch the division. The Red Sox will try to knock that down by at least one on Tuesday with Chris Sale getting the start.