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Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 5: Christian Vázquez walks it off

The offense picks up Chris Sale for a change.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images

The Red Sox might be back, you guys. For most of his Red Sox career, it’s been Chris Sale picking up lackluster performances from the offense, dominating opponents to make sure his team stayed in close, low-scoring affairs. This time, the roles were reversed. Sale wasn’t quite himself in this game, getting some whiffs but also allowing a bunch of hits and only lasting five innings. For most of the game, the Red Sox offense didn’t really back him up, either, and they trailed by four heading into the seventh. From there, they rallied for three in that inning, got the tying run in the eighth and then Christian Vázquez walked it off in the tenth. It was a very 2018 effort from the offense as well as the bullpen, who came through with five strong innings to give this offense the chance to come back in the first place. Baseball is fun, it turns out.

Everything was looking good for the Red Sox heading into Friday’s game with the Blue Jays to start their six-game homestand. Boston was rolling having won seven of their previous eight games and riding high from their series win in Minnesota. They were relatively rested, too, with an off-day on Thursday. Meanwhile, Toronto is one of the worst teams in baseball, played the night before and had to travel to Boston for the game. On top of all that, the Red Sox had Chris Sale on the mound. All he had to do was, ya know, be Chris Sale.

In the first inning, he was decidedly not Chris Sale. It was clear even in the first at bat when Eric Sogard came to the plate. At his best, Sale can finish off any hitter in baseball, but Sogard battled through a long at bat and eventually singled on the eleventh pitch of the at bat. Sale did get a couple of outs after that, but then Sogard stole second before Sale issued a couple of walks. That loaded the bases for Freddy Galvis, who put a base hit through the left side to score two runs. A throwing error to the plate from Andrew Benintendi moved both runners into scoring position, too, but fortunately they were stranded. Still, it was a 36-pitch inning for Sale and his team was down 2-0 before they even got a chance to hit.

In the second, it looked like Sale was back into form when he got two strikeouts to start things off. However, he followed that up by allowing a couple of base hits before getting out of the inning unscathed. He was not so lucky in the third, though it wasn’t entirely his fault. That inning started with a ground ball to Eduardo Núñez at third, as he was filling in for the banged up Rafael Devers. Núñez booted a routine play for an error, putting a runner on for Randal Grichuk. The Blue Jays outfielder took full advantage, taking a 1-0 changeup down and in and putting it over the wall down the left field line for a two-run shot. Just like that, Toronto had four runs on the board.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images

That was the end of the scoring against Sale, but even with that he wasn’t perfect. He’d hit a batter later in that third inning before getting out of it. Then, after a 1-2-3 fourth he allowed a pair of base hits in the fifth before stranding them at first and second. All told, it was a very unimpressive outing for Sale who allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings on seven hits and two walks. He did strike out eight Blue Jays, but that’s not too much of a consolation.

So, it was on the Red Sox offense to pick up the pitcher who has made up for so many of their lackluster days. They were going up against a rookie in Trent Thornton, too, so the chance was there for them to have a big game even without Devers. It didn’t work out like that, though. Boston did give themselves a chance to answer back in the bottom of the first when Andrew Benintendi drew a one-out walk and J.D. Martinez hit a two-out single to put a pair on for Brock Holt. He would watch strike three go by, though, and the Red Sox still trailed 2-0 after one.

The Red Sox would get two more baserunners in the second, too, when they got singles from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Núñez to put two on with just one out. Once again, though, they could not come through and the runners were stranded. Finally, in the third, they did come through after falling behind 4-0. Benintendi and Martinez singled in that inning to put two on with one out. With runners on the corners, Brock Holt lifted a fly ball deep enough to get the run home and cut the deficit to three. They couldn’t build anymore, though, and they settled for just the one run.

Boston then went down in order in both the fourth and fifth innings. Then, after Colten Brewer tossed a scoreless inning in relief in the top of the sixth, the Red Sox lineup got back to work in the bottom of the inning. Once again, it was with a pair of baserunners when Holt and Michael Chavis hit back-to-back one-out singles. A ground out then moved them both into scoring position with two outs, but Núñez struck out to end the inning and keep the deficit at three.

After that squander, the seventh didn’t go quite as well for Brewer. Control has been his issue all year, and sure enough the Blue Jays rally started with a walk from Teoscar Hernandez, who then moved on to second on a wild pitch. That advancement was big because Randal Grichuk followed that up with a base hit, and Toronto had a 5-1 lead. That also marked the end of Brewer’s night, and Josh Taylor came on to immediately end the inning with a big double play.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the seventh marked a big swing in the momentum of this game. Mookie Betts started this rally with a big hit, smacking a triple out to center field. After that, Benintendi knocked in a run on a base hit and Xander Bogaerts brought home another with a double. After the Red Sox shortstop moved over on a wild pitch, Martinez brought Boston to within one with a base hit of his own. Suddenly, the Red Sox were a swing away from taking the lead with all of the momentum, but Brock Holt ended the rally rapidly with an inning-ending double play with the score still 5-4 in favor of the Blue Jays.

With the game suddenly within striking distance, Taylor came in and got a couple of big strikeouts to start the inning. The southpaw then made way for Ryan Brasier, who immediately allowed a pair of base hits to put two on and two out with Toronto looking for some insurance. Valdimir Guerrero Jr. had a chance for a big hit, but Brasier got a fly out to end the inning and keep Boston within one.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images

The Red Sox offense kept the momentum going in the bottom of the eighth, too. With one out, Bradley ripped a triple into the right field corner to put the tying run just 90 feet away from home plate. That brought Devers up in a big pinch hitting spot, and he came through with a base hit to tie the game and bring the Red Sox back all the way back from a four-run deficit. They couldn’t add any more, though, and headed into the ninth in a 5-5 game.

After Matt Barnes came in for a perfect ninth, Boston had a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the inning with the middle of the order coming up. They would not come through, though, and we headed to extras.

The Red Sox would have another chance in the tenth thanks to a scoreless top half of the inning from Brandon Workman. They took advantage of this chance. After a couple of outs to start the inning, Marco Hernandez (who had come in to run for Devers in the eighth) was hit by a pitch to extend the inning. That brought Christian Vázquez to the plate, and he worked a full count. On the 3-2 pitch, he got a fastball belt-high on the outer half of the plate. He did not miss it, driving it into the bullpen in right field for a two-run, walk-off homer. That’s eight of nine.

The Red Sox will look to keep this run going on Saturday with the second game of this series. Boston will send Brian Johnson to the mound for that one to take on....TBD. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET.


Courtesy of Fangraphs