The Red Sox don’t feel like losing these days, and I’ve got to say I’m here for it. The latest victory in Toronto made it six in a row for Boston, and this one was a little less anxiety-inducing than the last couple. For most of the night, Brian Johnson cruised through Toronto’s lineup, further solidifying his spot in this rotation. Things did get dicey for the lefty as the night went on and the game was close temporarily, but the offense made sure it didn’t last. Boston’s lineup ultimately carried the day, and it was a group effort but the biggest performer was Rafael Devers on his first game back from the disabled list.
The Red Sox offense getting off to an early start and setting up a somewhat comfortable lead relatively early in the ball game was a nice change of pace after a couple of recent late-game comebacks (not that we’ll complain about those), but the story here was Brian Johnson. The lefty has had a couple of snags here and there in 2018, but for the most part he’s filled in admirably wherever the team has needed him, and that continued with yet another strong start on Wednesday. After a pretty rough outing against the Yankees last time out (albeit with a ton of strikeouts), it was going to be interesting if the Blue Jays picked up on an exploitable hitch in Johnson’s game. For most of the outing, that was far from the case, but things took a turn for the worse as the game went on.
Really, it took a bit for Johnson to even break a sweat in this game as he retired the side in order in the first on eight pitches, including one strikeout. After another 1-2-3 frame in the second, his no-hitter was indeed broken up in the third. As we all would have predicted, it was a Russell Martin infield single that broke up the potentially special outing. That led off the third, but Johnson quickly came back to get three straight outs after that.
In the fourth, the Blue Jays got their first runner into scoring position when Justin Smoak — who has killed the Red Sox all year — laced a one-out double into left field. Facing his first bit of adversity on the night, Johnson responded well. He got a big strikeout followed by a grounder to end the inning and strand Smoak at second. The Blue Jays then managed just a one-out walk in the fifth.
In the sixth, Johnson would lose his shutout. Granted, his offense had handed him a seven-run cushion by that point, so it wasn’t the end of the world. It was Smoak again starting the rally, this time with a single. After that, Teoscar Hernandez came up with two outs and took a fastball up and in and sent it way out to left field. Hernandez is far from a perfect hitter, but when he makes contact it generally goes a long way.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense did get going against the Blue Jays and their starter Mike Hauschild. The righty is a bit of an unknown who has spent most of this year — and his career — at Triple-A, and Boston struggled a bit in their first look at him. In the first two innings, they managed only a couple of walks, the first of which was quickly cancelled out by a double play.
In the third, things turned around in a hurry. Rafael Devers, in his first game back from the disabled list, started that inning off and he got back into the action quickly with a double. After a walk and a hit batter, the Red Sox suddenly had the bases loaded with nobody out. Andrew Benintendi couldn’t deliver a massive blow, but he hit a deep fly ball to score one. Then, Mitch Moreland had another big swing after his tie-breaking homer on Tuesday, as he crushed a double out to center field to score two more. A J.D. Martinez single would knock Hauschild out of the game, and with runners on the corners Xander Bogaerts came through with a sacrifice fly. All told, Boston left the top of the third with a 4-0 lead.
After a quick fourth inning, the Red Sox got back to work in the fifth. It was the top of the order doing the thing this time around, with Betts singling and Benintendi doubling to put two on to lead the inning. Eventually, the bases would load up after an intentional walk to J.D. Martinez, and that proved to be a mistake. Bogaerts came up next and drew a four-pitch walk to score Boston’s fifth run of the game. A double play would prevent them from tacking any more on, but it was something.
The next inning, the game went from safe to out of hand with one swing of the bat. Eduardo Núñez kicked off that inning with a single, bringing Devers back to the plate. He once again looked as if he didn’t miss a beat with his short stint on the DL, taking a slider down and in and depositing it over the wall in right-center field. Just like that it, was 7-0.
The Red Sox would add one more in the seventh on an RBI double from Bogaerts, which would be a nice insurance run to have considering how the bottom of the inning went. Johnson started to hit a wall in that frame, allowing a walk to Martin and a single to Kevin Pillar to bring Randal Grichuk to the plate with two on and two out. Johnson threw a fastball with the first pitch and it stayed right down the heart of the plate, and the southpaw doesn’t have the kind of stuff to get away from that. The Blue Jays outfielder hit it out of the park, and suddenly the Red Sox lead was cut down to 8-5.
Fortunately, Boston’s hitters are super good, so they’d get some of those runs back. Martinez got an RBI single (he has 98 RBI already lmao) and Benintendi later scored on a wild pitch, bringing the score to 10-5 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Ryan Brasier came on for that inning, and he worked around a single and an error to toss a scoreless inning.
The ninth belonged to Joe Kelly, who got himself into trouble. The righty allowed two of the first three batters he faced to reach base, causing Craig Kimbrel to start warming up. The trouble quickly dissipated, though, as Kelly induced a big double play to end the game and lock up yet another series.
The Red Sox will look for their second consecutive sweep on Thursday night back in Toronto. They’ll have Rick Porcello on the hill to go up against Ryan Borucki, with first pitch coming at 7:07 PM ET.