In the grand scheme of this baseball season, it’s tough to have a less important game than Tuesday’s between the Red Sox and Blue Jays. Neither team is going to make the postseason, and there really weren’t any awards implications. It was just a baseball game, which is likely enough for you if you’re reading this. It was enough for me to watch, even though it is also, ya know, my job. Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that, at this point, the results are secondary. It’s about watching baseball and individual performances. But, well, the results are still the results. This time, the results were not good, with Boston losing a back-and-forth affair thanks in large part to the offense having a solid night but, as has happened weirdly often in 2019, not being able to get the big hit when they needed it. Such is life in 2019.
It’s been a tumultuous few days for the Red Sox, as we all know. In a perfect world, the play of the field would be able to provide a positive distraction for us fans. Of course, if that was the case the tumult wouldn’t be happening in the first place. Where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us watching a team that is all but officially out of the postseason chase playing against a bad Blue Jays team and struggling to get ahead and stay ahead. Not ideal, in my humble opinion.
Up in Toronto on Tuesday, the Red Sox were going up against a guy in T.J. Zeuch who had just one four-inning relief appearance under his belt heading into this one. It was a chance for the offense to flex their muscles some more in support of Nathan Eovaldi against a young but talented Blue Jays lineup. Mookie Betts did just that right off the bat, too. Zeuch threw a first-pitch sinker that stayed up in the zone and Betts smashed it out to left field for a solo, leadoff homer. One pitch into the game, it was 1-0 Red Sox.
Boston would get a couple more baserunners in that inning, too, on a pair of singles. However, Rafael Devers was caught stealing and J.D. Martinez was stranded at first. Similarly, the Red Sox got two more baserunners in the second when Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a walk and Chris Owings hit a single, both with one out. The bases would eventually load up when Betts drew a two-out walk, giving Devers a big chance to add to the lead. He worked a 3-0 count, but when he got the green light he hit a ground ball to Cavan Biggio to end the inning with no runs crossing the plate.
On the other side, Eovaldi was trying to keep the Blue Jays at bay while his offense was floundering with runners on base. He did give up a leadoff single to Bo Bichette in the first, and the runner would steal second as well. However, Eovaldi left him in scoring position. In the second, he worked around a pair of singles to get through a second straight scoreless inning in which a runner reached scoring position.
After the Red Sox just drew a walk in the third, Eovaldi was looking for a third straight scoreless inning. Biggio had other ideas. Boston’s righty got to a 1-2 count before leaving a fastball right down the center of the zone. Biggio blasted it, and just like that, the game was tied. In the next inning, with the score still 1-1, Reese McGuire came up with one out and a 1-1 count. Eovaldi once again left a pitch right over the heart of the plate — this time a splitter — and once again it went a long way and now the Blue Jays had a 2-1 lead.
The good news is that the offense showed a little bit of life for the first time in a few innings. Devers got things started in this inning, putting a double into right field with one out. J.D. Martinez then hit a double down the left field line that ended with a fan picking up the ball when they thought it was foul. That tied the game at two, and then Andrew Benintendi gave them the lead back with a two-out single.
So, now Eovaldi had the advantage once again, but once again it wouldn’t last. He walked the first batter he saw, and then after a big strikeout he as lifted from the game with 93 pitches. Josh Taylor came on to face the left-handed Rowdy Tellez, a pitching change that absolutely made sense. It didn’t work out, though. Taylor threw the Blue Jays first baseman a fastball that stayed middle-in and Tellez absolutely destroyed it for a two-run shot. In the blink of an eye, Toronto was back in front by a run.
The Red Sox would then go down in front in the sixth, with Brian Johnson coming in for the bottom of the inning. He would give up a leadoff single, and then after a passed ball and a bunt, there was a runner on third with one out. Ryan Brasier then came in in a tough spot after Johnson issued a walk, and eventually the bases were loaded with two outs for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Brasier came through, though, getting another big strikeout to end the inning and keep the lead at one.
That was basically it for action in this one. Andrew Cashner and Matt Barnes came on for a scoreless inning each. The Red Sox did get the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, but of course he would be stranded. And, well, that was that.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays continue their series on Wednesday. Boston will start Jhoulys Chacín while Toronto sends Trent Thornton to the mound.