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Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 8: Mookie goes cycling in a loss

Rick Porcello struggled, but Mookie Betts made a little history.

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Even their losses have some excitement. Most of this game did not go well for the Red Sox, but Mookie Betts provided a lift and some reason for joy even with the L. The Red Sox superstar had a single in the first, a triple in the second and a double in the fourth. Then, in the ninth, he finished the job and went cycling with a solo shot. He and the rest of the team surely would rather this happen in a win, of course, but this team has played so well all year that we can allow ourselves some excitement for this occasion, Boston’s first cycle since Brock Holt’s in 2015.

Unfortunately, this game also included another downward turn on the Rick Porcello rollercoaster, as the Red Sox righty just didn’t have it at all in this game. He struggled with his control, and when he did hit the zone the Blue Jays hitters smoked it. There was only one clean inning in the effort for Porcello, and when the Red Sox offense were able to give him something to work with he could help them out. Porcello’s ups and downs are annoying and perhaps a little concerning, but overall it’s just a loss. It happens, and with this team something special happens along with it.

This game had a back-and-forth feel to it, though it really did feel like the Red Sox were back on their heels for the vast majority of it. Perhaps the only time it didn’t feel that way was in the top of the first, when they got off to an early start. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi started it off with back-to-back singles, but a couple of quick outs later made it seem like the Red Sox were about to squander the chance. After Xander Bogaerts walked to load the bases, it was up to Eduardo Núñez to get something out of this chance. He came through, smacking a single into right field to score Betts and Benintendi. It was all Boston would get, but it was an early 2-0 lead.

Unfortunately, Porcello looked like he didn’t have it right from the beginning, and he was struggling a whole lot with control. He walked the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first, which was an obvious sign of trouble. Justin Smoak then continued to kill the Red Sox as he has all year, smoking a single to score one and put runners on the corners. It seemed as if Porcello got the next batter to ground into a double play, which would tie the game but at least give two outs, but Brock Holt’s throw on the turn was in the dirt and Boston only got one run out of it. The good news is Porcello got a ground out and a strikeout to end the inning with the score tied at two.

After the Red Sox wasted a two-out triple for Betts in the second, Toronto got right back to mashing against Porcello. This inning also started with two baserunners — this time on a walk and a single — to put runners on the corners, and once again bad defense hurt the Boston starter. This time it was what appeared to be another double play ball, but Núñez tried to start the play too early and bobbled the ball, resulting in a run and no outs. Toronto would eventually get two more runners in scoring position, but one was cut down at home and the other was stranded.

In the third, it appeared Porcello could be heading towards a quick inning. That is, until Teoscar Hernandez came up with two outs. The Blue Jays outfielder got a fastball down in the zone and he smashed it out to right-center field, and Toronto had another insurance run. Finally, in the fourth, Porcello had a clean, 1-2-3 frame.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

That one came in the nick of time, because in the top half of the fifth the Red Sox offense got going again. It was — who else? — J.D. Martinez getting the party started there. He got a middle-in fastball and demolished one out to left field to cut the deficit in half. It was one of those shots where the outfielder doesn’t even move, which is always fun. Later in the inning, now with two outs, Núñez smashed his third single of the day and got to second on a stolen base. That would come in handy when Brock Holt got a single of his own and just like that the game was tied. Holt quickly got picked off after that, but at least it was a tie game.

Unfortunately, Porcello couldn’t carry the momentum from his quick fourth inning to put up a shutdown frame after his team came back to tie it. The inning quickly turned into a disaster for the righty, as he allowed a leadoff single, followed by a double (from Smoak, of course) before Randal Grichuk hit a no-doubt shot of his own. In the blink of an eye, Toronto had their biggest lead of the game at 7-4. That homer would end Porcello’s night with 4+ innings of work, allowing seven runs on six hits and three walks. Not great! Brandon Workman came on to finish off the fifth.

After the Red Sox failed to score in the sixth, Hector Velazquez came on for the seventh. He did get two quick outs, but then Curtis Granderson came through with a two-out double to extend the inning. Devon Travis was up next, and the second baseman poked a single into left field to put Toronto up by four. The one saving grace was Travis being thrown out at second after originally being ruled safe.

After that, Velazquez tossed a perfect seventh for the Red Sox, and Tyler Thornburg pitched around a couple of two-out baserunners to escape the eighth without allowing a run. The offense, meanwhile, went down in order in each of the next two innings leading up to the ninth. That’s when it happened, when Betts stepped to the plate looking for a little history. Ken Giles hung a slider up in the zone, and Mookie smashed it out to left field for a solo dinger. It only brought the deficit down to three, but it was rad as hell and completed the cycle. It was also all Boston would get in the inning.

So, the Red Sox had to settle for merely a series victory and will look for the same in Baltimore. They have four games over the next three days, with the first coming on Friday night. Boston will send Nathan Eovaldi to the mound to take on Dylan Bundy. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were able to pick up a game on the Red Sox with their 7-3 win over the Rangers on Thursday. That knocks Boston’s lead in the division down to eight games.