It turns out the Red Sox are not a different team when they play seven innings as opposed to their typical nine. The good news is the bats had it going on against Toronto’s pitching staff, coming back from a tough start to their game to put seven runs on the board led by a three-hit effort from Yairo Muñoz that included his first homer in a Red Sox uniform. Unfortunately, the pitching did not back up the offense, with Zack Godley giving up a few runs in his short outing and the bullpen giving up a few as well. The back-breaking inning came in the sixth thanks in part to a key error from Alex Verdugo. All in all, it was an 8-7 loss that dropped the team’s record down to 12-27.
The Red Sox had their first experience with a seven-inning game on Friday afternoon in the first game of their doubleheader against the Blue Jays. They had Zack Godley on the mound for this one as the home team — you’d think that’d be a given, but they are the road team at Fenway in the nightcap! — and he actually had a little bit of an advantage early in this game. Shadows can, I think, often be overrated by broadcasters, but the shadows were particularly tough in this one and it didn’t look like any of the hitters could see spin as well as they would have liked. As a result, Godley allowed only a single in the top half of the first.
Unfortunately, the shadows do not disappear based on who is on the mound, and Tanner Roark used them to his advantage as well, striking out the side in the bottom half of the first. That made four straight strikeouts overall between the two teams, and Godley would actually extend that streak to six, but couldn’t finish off the inning.
Instead, old friend Travis Shaw stepped in the box and got a two-seam fastball that just didn’t move. Shaw took advantage and blasted it just barely up and over the wall into the Red Sox bullpen right up against the triangle in center field. The solo shot was his first homer at Fenway since 2016, and it gave Toronto a 1-0 lead. They’d continue to hit Godley from there, too. After Joe Panik drew a walk, Danny Jansen smashed a hanging breaking ball into the Monster Seats for a no-doubt homer, and just like that it was a 3-0 game.
Now, the Red Sox offense needed to answer back after their rough first inning, but they didn’t get off to a great start when J.D. Martinez became Roark’s fourth straight strikeout victim to start his afternoon. Kevin Plawecki snapped that streak, though, with a double high off the Monster in left-center field that missed the seats by maybe a foot. He then moved up to third on a ground ball before Yairo Muñoz put one about a foot higher than Plawecki’s for his first homer in a Red Sox uniform. Just like that, Boston was back to within one. They had a chance to tie it, too, when Michael Chavis smacked the first pitch he saw off the Monster for a double, but José Peraza couldn’t get him home.
Godley came back out looking for a quick inning to keep the momentum on his side, but he did not come through. Randal Grichuk led things off with a double out to left field and then a Rowdy Tellez base hit put runners on the corners with nobody out. Godley did come through with a big double play ball after that to avoid a big inning, but it also put another run on the board to make it 4-2.
The Red Sox offense didn’t have any immediate answers in them, though, sending three batters to the plate in both the third and fourth innings. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Springs came on for the top of the fourth (and Godley inexplicably threw a bit of a tantrum when he was told his day was over) and served up a double to Shaw — that just missed being his second homer of the day out in the right field corner — but worked around it for a scoreless frame.
The southpaw got himself into more trouble in the fifth, too, giving up a leadoff single to Cavan Biggio on a check swing that snuck over the glove of Rafael Devers. Biggio then made his way up to second base on a wild pitch before getting to third on a ground out and scoring on a sacrifice fly. It wasn’t exactly a bad inning by Springs by any stretch — though the wild pitch was obviously costly — but it made it a 5-2 game with the Red Sox offense now having three innings left to come back.
They got going a bit in the fifth when Muñoz got things started on a hustle infield single to lead off the inning. A couple batters later, Peraza came through with a big double off the base of the wall in center field to make it a two-run ballgame. Alex Verdugo followed that up with a bloop single to put runners on the corners, which worked out well when Roark threw one in the dirt that got to the backstop. Just like that, it was a one-run game and the Red Sox had a man in scoring position with one out and the heart of the order coming up. A Devers walk put two men on with one out, and it also ended the day for Roark. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Julian Merryweather came on and kept the score at 5-4 Blue Jays.
Marcus Walden then came on to start the sixth in his first outing since being called back up, and he was not helped by his defense. On a fly ball to right field, Verdugo lost the ball in the sun and dropped it for an error to put a runner at first base to start off the inning. It didn’t get any better from there, as Walden issued a walk then gave up two straight singles to give Toronto another run. The righty almost got out of it after that with a pop up and a strikeout, but Grichuk had the dagger with a two-out base hit through the left side to bring two more home. Just like that, the Jays had opened up a four-run lead. After Robert Stock came on to try and finish the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. made an incredible catch going straight back to rob Tellez of extra bases and end the inning.
With the offense now needing another rally, they got the start they wanted with back-to-back singles from Plawecki and Bradley to put the first two guys on. That gave Muñoz another chance to come through, and he did just that with a dobule down the left field line to bring one home and put two in scoring position, still with nobody out. Chavis kept things going with a base hit to bring one more home, and suddenly it was a two-run game with runners on the corners and still nobody out.
Toronto went back into the bullpen at that point to bring A.J. Cole out to face Peraza, who hit what could have been a double play ball except it was hit so softly that Toronto could get just one out. Meanwhile, another run came home to make it an 8-7 game with the top of the order coming back around. After a walk and a fly out, a wild pitch would put two in scoring position with two outs for Bogaerts in a massive at bat. He couldn’t come through, popping one up on the infield to keep the deficit at one.
After Stock worked around a leadoff walk and base hit for a scoreless inning, the offense had one more shot to at least tie this game up. They couldn’t come through, going down in order to end the game and start the doubleheader off with an L.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays play again in about 30-45 minutes for the second game of this doubleheader. Because this season is so bizarre Toronto is actually the home team for that one, which pits Chris Mazza against Ross Stripling.