I have to say, it was very difficult to watch Wednesday’s game like it was a normal game, or whatever the 2020 version of a normal game is. In case you somehow missed it, today has been something of a monumental day in the sports world starting with the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to take the court for their playoff game this afternoon in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It was soon announced that the players for the other NBA teams scheduled to play on Wednesday would also not be taking the court, and soon after that the Brewers and Reds decided not to play their scheduled game. In the time since then, the Mariners’s players voted not to play their game against the Padres, and the Giants-Dodgers game will also not be played. In addition, individual Black players have decided to sit today including Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler and Matt Kemp. It is possible I am missing teams and players, and I apologize. The situation is constantly changing as I type this.
The point is, there is a moment happening right now for an extremely important topic in this country. As a white man, it is very clearly not my place to tell any athletes what to do right now, especially Black athletes. I believe it is incredible what the players who have decided to sit out have done and I am truly inspired by their solidarity in trying to address what is a massive issue in this nation and has been since its founding. I also think it’s incredibly unfair that this is has been put on the plate of athletes at all, and in this case with that responsibility being disproportionately on the shoulders of young, Black athletes. It is not my place to lecture any of these athletes individually about what they should or should not be doing, particularly those of color who are the victims of the systemic racism these protests are fighting against.
That being said, I would be lying if I said I was not extremely disappointed in the decision made by the Red Sox and the Blue Jays to play this game. As I said, this is a critical moment, and we saw something similar back in March with COVID. Things often don’t seem real until they start to effect sports, just like for many the COVID crisis seemed like background noise until the NBA shut down. Again, it’s unfair that this is put on the shoulder of sports and athletes in particular, but it is the society in which we live. This felt like a moment not just for the Red Sox and Blue Jays, but the league and its players to take a unified stand beyond just speaking in platitudes. They didn’t do it, and instead the league sort of splintered and left everything happening on the field just seem insignificant at best and more accurately it’s an ill-timed distraction from important conversations. Seems like a good time to mention the league will be celebrating Jackie Robinson on Friday.
Anyway, I say all that because while I watched this game I wasn’t as focused as I normally am for a game on which I am writing a recap. I think that will likely be reflected in the level of detail (or perhaps lack thereof) you read below.
Colten Brewer got the start for this one after Nathan Eovaldi suffered a minor calf injury. The hope is that the latter will start on Saturday. Instead, it was Brewer, who didn’t have his best command. He fell behind pretty early on, specifically two batters into the game when Randal Grichuk absolutely obliterated a baseball to give Toronto/Buffalo a 1-0 lead. They would add to it in the second, too, when Rowdy Tellez did what he always does against the Red Sox, which is hit a home run. More on that in a second, but that blast made it 2-0. Brewer did come back for a perfect third, to be fair.
On the other side, the Red Sox offense did a whole lot of nothing early, getting a chance in the second with a two-out Christian Vázquez double but nothing else. They wouldn’t be able to cut into their deficit until the fourth, when Mitch Moreland continued what has been just a phenomenal season. This time, with rain pouring down — another reason this game shouldn’t have been played! It was pouring! It should have at least been a delay — he flicked one the other way and it just kept carrying. It carried all the way over the left field wall for a solo shot of his own, suddenly making it a one-run game.
The Blue Jays weren’t going to let that last too long, though, and it was Tellez again. With Brewer still on the mound, the Jays’s first baseman hit yet another home run (and another no-doubter), this one a two-run shot to make it 4-1. This also increased his career OPS against the Red Sox to 1.268. It was also his ninth homer against the club, which is the equivalent to 78 over 600 plate appearances.
After that homer, things mostly quieted down. Ryan Weber came out of the bullpen in the middle of the fourth and continued to pitch well in this relief role for a few innings. He made it into the seventh without allowing a run, but then started that inning off with three straight singles to put one more run on the board. He’d get one out before Austin Brice came on, and after loading the bases with a walk he cleared them by allowing a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. double. Just like that, it was a seven-run lead for Toronto. They got one more on an RBI single from — who else? — Tellez.
That was pretty much that, as the Jays finished it with that 9-1 score.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays will, weather permitting, finish this series on Thursday with a rubber match. Boston is sending Chris Mazza to the mound to take on Hyun-Jin Ryu. First pitch is, for now, set for 6:37 PM ET.