Needing a win pretty badly on Wednesday just for self-confidence and keeping the rabid fanbase at bay, the Red Sox did the job in the third game of this four-game set. Boston got another strong start from Eduardo Rodriguez, who is looking outstanding of late. He did allow a couple of solo homers to Teoscar Hernandez, who regularly destroys Red Sox pitching for reasons that escape me, but other than that he did his job and then some. Throw in yet another great day at the plate from Rafael Devers as well as clutch performances in relief from Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman and baby you got a win goin’.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays needed to wait a bit to actually get this game started, with a 40-minute rain delay kicking things off in Boston on Wednesday night. That gave the home team a little time to think about things and hopefully realize that, hey, it’s time to win some baseball games. They are still right in the thick of the wildcard race, but they are much too talented to take any pride in that and have to start winning solidly and consistently. Throwing in more David Price vs. Dennis Eckersley drama doesn’t help matters either. All of the other stuff aside, though, winning cures all.
This was particularly important after the brutal loss on Tuesday. They needed to come back strong in this one, and they were up to the task. On the mound was Eduardo Rodriguez, who had been hot coming into this game. For some strange reason, the Blue Jays have had the numbers of Red Sox pitching all year despite being, frankly, bad against everyone else. So, while Boston’s lefty had been pitching well you never know what’s going to happen in any given start.
As it turns out, though, he pitched well against everyone not named Teoscar Hernandez. The first inning wasn’t great for Rodriguez, to be fair. He needed over 20 pitches to get through the frame and started it with an eight-pitch walk, but he ultimately got through without allowing a run. Boston’s southpaw only had to face three batters in the second, though part of that was due to his defense. Justin Smoak ripped one off the wall in straightaway center field, but he’s not exactly fleet of foot and was cut down at second base thanks to a picture-perfect play and throw from Bradley.
The third wouldn’t be as fortunate thanks to Hernandez. Toronto’s righty led off the top half of the third, and the first pitch he got was a fastball up in the zone over the plate. He was all over it, absolutely demolishing one out to center field up near the light tower in one of the longest homers you’ll see to that part of the park. That gave Toronto their first run of the game.
The good news is, Rodriguez settled into a very nice groove after that home run. He retired seven of the next eight batters he faced. Of course, that run ended once again when Hernandez came back to the plate. This time, he was up with the bases empty and one out, and he did the same thing. Well, this time his solo homer went out to left field instead of center, but you get the idea. He owns the Red Sox, and Rodriguez got caught in the cross-fire.
On the other side, the Red Sox were going up against a pitcher in Aaron Sanchez who once looked like a real up-and-comer but due to injuries and deflated performance he has turned into one of the worst pitchers in the AL. That has been particularly true this year, so Boston’s hitters had to get going early and often in this game. They did threaten to score in the first on a two-out hustle double from Xander Bogaerts, but they wouldn’t score.
They had another opportunity in the second when Andrew Benintendi and Michael Chavis led off with a walk and a base hit to put the first two batters of the inning on base. Boston made two quick outs after that to threaten a squander, but Brock Holt had other ideas. The second baseman lined a single out to Hernandez in center field to get the game’s first run across.
We know that lead wouldn’t last long thanks to the first homer of the night from Hernandez, but the Red Sox didn’t waste any time themselves in getting the run right back. It was thanks to Rafael Devers, as has been the case so, so often this year. The third baseman got a changeup on the outer half and he just barely put it over the wall in left field for a solo shot, and just like that the Red Sox would have a 2-1 lead. They’d add a couple more in the fourth, too, thanks to two more RBI from Devers, this time on a double.
So, as we entered the seventh, the Red Sox were leading 4-2 and Rodriguez was coming back out to the mound. It did not go great. He would walk the first batter he faced before Devers made an error at third base. Just like that, the first two batters of the inning were on. Rodriguez got an out after that, but with Hernandez coming to the plate representing the go-ahead run, Alex Cora made the change. Rodriguez was very good on the whole, but he had a chance at a no decision if the bullpen couldn’t come through.
Matt Barnes got the call with two on and one out, and he walked the first batter he faced. That cut his margin of error down to zero, but then he did the job. Barnes struck out the next two batters he faced, and the lead was still intact.
After Boston loaded the bases but failed to score in the bottom of the inning, it was Josh Taylor for the eighth. The lefty got a pop up to start the inning, but then Lourdes Gurriel came to the plate. Toronto’s best hitter this year, he got a first-pitch cutter that stayed right over the plate up in the zone and he blasted it way out into the Monster Seats. Suddenly, it was just a one-run game. Taylor then hit the next batter he saw before walking another and ending his day. Brandon Workman was forced to come on an inning before he was supposed to with two on and one out. The righty did the job, getting back-to-back strikeouts to keep the Red Sox up two.
Boston would add an insurance run on yet another RBI from Devers, and Workman was back on for the ninth with his team leading 5-3. The righty immediately walked the first two batters he faced. He did come back with a big strikeout followed by a deep fly out. Now, he was just one out away in the two-run game with runners on the corners. Gurriel came through with a base hit to get Toronto to within one, but Workman got Randal Grichuk to swing through a curveball to end the game. Never a doubt!
Boston will look for a series victory on a getaway day Thursday in the series finale. They’ll have Chris Sale on the mound for this one while Toronto’s starter is still TBD. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET, but weather could be a factor.