The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox were coming into Tuesday night’s matchup against the Blue Jays looking to blow off a little steam, both because of a brutal loss on Monday against the Indians in a very winnable game but also because Toronto punched Boston in the mouth in March by taking three of four in that season-opening series. Boston had Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound in this one going up against Shun Yamaguchi.
Things got a little dicey there in the first, unfortunately, though it wasn’t really all Rodriguez’s fault. Lourdes Gurriel hit a ground ball to shortstop with one out, and after making a diving stop Bogaerts misfired his throw. It got out of play, and Gurriel was on second with a two-base error. After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. flew out to deep left field, Bo Bichette came through with a big single that looked like it would score Toronto’s first run, but Jackie Bradley Jr. had other ideas. A day after signing a new four-year contract, Bradley showed off the arm by nabbing Gurriel at the dish for the third out and keeping this one scoreless.
So, Bradley saved the run in the top half of the first, and then in the bottom of the inning he showed off the stick. The Red Sox center fielder got off to a scorching start at the plate this season but had cooled off a bit of late. Here, however, he got ahold of one. The wind was blowing in over 20 miles per hour straight from right field, but Bradley powered one through the gusts kept one right down the line. It flew 355 feet and snuck around the foul pole for a solo homer, and Bradley single-handedly carried Boston to a 1-0 lead. Things kept going from there, too, as J.D. Martinez smacked a base hit and Xander Bogaerts followed it up with a double to put two in scoring position for Alex Verdugo. The right fielder came through with his first of three singles on the day, knocking in two and giving Boston a 3-0 lead after one.
The bad news is the offense wouldn’t do much of anything after that, though that’s not to say they didn’t have chances. The most notable opportunity came in the fourth with the score still 3-0. Mitch Moreland led things off for Boston with a double, and then Ryder Jones lined a single into right field. Moreland had to hesitate in case it was caught so he did not score, but Boston had runners on the corners with nobody out. Michael Chavis did his job next, too, hitting a fly ball out to deep center field. However, for some reason Moreland did not try to score on the play, and then Boston followed that up with a pop out and a ground out, stranding the runners in a sequence that was reminiscent of Monday’s brutal loss. Boston had a couple more opportunities with a two-out double from Jones in the sixth and a leadoff single from Verdugo in the eighth, but those three first-inning runs would be all for the Red Sox offense.
That, in turn, meant things were on Rodriguez’s shoulders to preserve the lead. Thankfully, the lefty had some good stuff going in this game. He was riding a relatively easy shutout heading into the sixth, though this was start of the third trip through the order for Toronto and they jumped on Rodriguez a bit here. Cavan Biggio started it off with a base hit, but Rodriguez came back and got a big double play after that. It looked like it might be an easy inning after the early hiccup, but Guerrero Jr. smoked a base hit to keep the inning going before Bichette lined a triple into the triangle, giving Toronto their first run of the game. A few pitches after that triple, Rodriguez threw one in the dirt that got by Christian Vázquez, and suddenly it was a 3-2 game.
From there, Rodriguez settled down. He got out of the sixth with a strikeout, then tossed a clean 1-2-3 seventh to keep the one run lead. He would come back out for the eighth, too, despite getting up near 100 pitches. The southpaw got two outs but also allowed a single, and with Guerrero Jr. coming up Boston turned to the bullpen. It was a strong outing for Rodriguez, but the tying run was on base with a good hitter coming up and Marcus Walden heading out to the mound. The righty gave up some hard contact, but Guerrero’s 100 mph liner was right at Verdugo, and the Red Sox got out of the inning.
That brought Matt Barnes out for the ninth to try and get his ninth save. He had the day off on Monday, a game in which Boston ended up blowing the save in the ninth. Here, he started things off by letting the tying run reach on a leadoff single, but came back with two strikeouts. Bizarrely, for reasons I cannot quite explain, Boston went to the bullpen after that, bringing in Workman — who blew the save on Monday — despite Barnes having only thrown 12 pitches. It did work as Workman got a strikeout to end the inning and pick up the save, but I’m not entirely sure of the rationale.
Either way, the victory pushed Boston’s record to 15-10 and they maintain their half-game lead over the Yankees in the division. In other AL East news, the Rays, who are 11-13, suffered a big loss with Colin Poche hitting the IL with inflammation in his shoulder that will keep him out for four months. Down on the farm, Rusney Castillo had a couple of doubles and Mike Shawaryn threw seven strong innings in a win for Pawtucket, Jeter Downs homered in a Portland victory, Triston Casas homered but Salem’s bullpen allowed 14 runs in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings in a loss, and Greenville dropped a close one with a one-run loss.