The Red Sox hit the midpoint of their shortened season on Tuesday, and they marked the occasion with a victory that came on the back of the offense. Boston trailed for the first half of this one, getting some early offense from Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland but not much else outside of them. On the other side, Kyle Hart struggled once again and dug the team in an early hole. In the sixth, though, the offense broke out with a huge six-run inning that was highlighted by a bases-clearing triple from Rafael Devers. Throw in a strong performance from the bullpen for most of the way, and you get the tenth victory of the year for Boston.
The Red Sox headed to a Triple-A stadium to mark the halfway point of their season, and they had a pitcher on the mound in Kyle Hart who, in his first couple starts of his career, looked like he still needed some time in Triple-A. The trip to Buffalo didn’t really help matters, as the same issues remained. Hart’s stuff isn’t good enough to challenge hitters, and his command isn’t consistently sharp enough to make things work on the edges. The result is a lot of pitches, a lot of walks, and hard contact when he misses.
The first inning saw that very phenomenon, and the Blue Jays jumped out to an early lead because of it. Hart allowed back-to-back singles to start things off, and after a very well-hit first out he issued a walk to load the bases with just one out. That brought Lourdes Gurriel to the plate, and he came through with a huge double out to right-center field to bring home two runs and make it 2-0. Hart got a huge pop out after that for the second out with runners on second and third, but Danny Jansen made sure to expand the lead with a two-run single. The only bit of good news here was that Jansen tried to get to second on the throw home and Christian Vázquez nabbed him to end the inning.
The second saw a similar kind of performance form the Red Sox lefty, though not the same results. Hart gave out a one-out double to Santiago Espinal — who was traded by Boston to Toronto for Steve Pearce back in 2018 — before giving up a single and a walk to load the bases with one out yet again. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a big chance to break this game open with one swing, but Hart caught a break. Guerrero grounded one right at Xander Bogaerts for a 6-4-3 double play, somehow ending the inning without a run. Hart looked to gain a little confidence there, too, as he tossed a scoreless third in which he allowed just a single.
On the other side, the Red Sox offense were looking to provide some support for their rookie starter against Chase Anderson. They went down in order in the first, but the middle of the order picked things up in the second starting with a double from Bogaerts. Mitch Moreland followed that up with a base hit, and the Red Sox were on the board, trailing 4-1. The next three batters would be retired, though, to kill the momentum.
After managing just a base hit in the third, the fourth went very similarly to the second. This time, Bogaerts smacked a single and Moreland came through with the double, but the results were the same and it was the second run of the game for Boston. After a couple of quick outs it looked like it would be Bogaerts and Moreland and nobody else again, but Moreland moved up to third with two outs on a passed ball due to what looked like a cross-up with signs. That was big, because Jackie Bradley Jr. reached on an infield single against the shift — he was originally called out on a truly terrible call that everyone knew was wrong even without replay — and Moreland came on to score. Just like that, Boston was within one in a 4-3 game.
Now, it was up to Hart to keep the momentum on his team’s side. He got a strikeout to start off the inning, but then Espinal reached with a bunt single after seeing Rafael Devers playing back. After a walk put two on, Hart’s night was done and Phillips Valdez was in to try and keep the Sox within one. It looked like he did that with a double play ball, but Toronto sent the runners on the pitch, making the only viable play at first base. That was huge, because Guerrero followed that up with a base hit to bring two more runs home and put Toronto back up by three.
After both sides went down without a run in the fifth, the Red Sox got things going on offense in the sixth. Moreland was involved yet again, this time getting it started with a leadoff walk. Vázquez followed that up with a deep double to left field, and just like that there were two in scoring position and nobody out. Kevin Pillar popped one out for the first out, but Bradley would once again come through with his chance. This time he smacked one through the infield for a clean base hit, bringing Moreland home to make it a 6-4 game with runners still on the corners. After the bases loaded up on a hit batter, Alex Verdugo smacked his second base hit of the day — extending his hit streak to 14, by the way — to bring another run home and make it a 6-5 game.
The Blue Jays went back to the bullpen for the second time in the inning after that, bringing in A.J. Cole to face Devers. The third baseman had a rought start to the at bat and went down 0-2 on an ugly swing, but then fought back to make it 3-2. On the full count, Devers ripped a triple out to the corner in right field to clear the bases and give Boston their first lead of the game with an 8-6 score. A sacrifice fly from J.D. Martinez would finish off the six-run inning.
With the lead suddenly in hand, Darwinzon Hernandez came on for the bottom of the sixth and he worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless frame. He’d come back out for the seventh as well, working around a pair of two-out baserunners for another scoreless frame to keep it a 9-6 game.
That was still the score heading into the eighth, and that one belonged to Ryan Brasier. He came through with a 1-2-3 inning, the first for Red Sox pitching on the night.
After the offense failed to provide any more insurance, it was Matt Barnes looking for a save in the ninth. He could not keep the scoreless streak from the bullpen going. Barnes did get a quick first out, but he left a 2-2 fastball right over the plate to Teoscar Hernandez, who smacked his 11th homer of the year to make it a two-run game. Barnes came back with a strikeout for out number two, but then gave up a base hit to bring Rowdy Tellez to the plate representing the tying run. Tellez historically destroys the Red Sox to the tune of a 1.144 OPS, but Barnes won the battle this time. He got Tellez swinging on a high fastball to end the game and push the Red Sox record to 10-20.
The Red Sox will look to make it two in a row and a series win on Wednesday. It was supposed to be Nathan Eovaldi for this one, but he was pushed back to Saturday with calf cramps. Instead, Colten Brewer gets the start while the Blue Jays will also go with a bullpen game. First pitch is set for 6:37 PM ET.