The Red Sox have a big series this week against the Blue Jays, who entered this night 1.5 games behind Boston for the division. It’s a little early to pay too much attention to the standings, but it’s still a series you want to win. The Red Sox didn’t get a good start to this goal. It was a battle of staff aces, and Hyun Jin Ryu won easily. He had Boston’s offense off-balanace all night, while the Toronto offense was all over Eduardo Rodriguez with a ton of hard-hit singles and doubles — 18 hits total — largely abusing the right field in Dunedin. It was an all-around forgettable night for the Red Sox.
After a good weekend overall against the Angels, even if the ending wasn’t quite according to plan, the Red Sox were looking to hold that momentum in a big series against the Blue Jasys, who entered the day in second place in the division, just 1.5 games behind Boston. And to add some intrigue, both teams had their best pitcher on the mound to start an early division showdown.
For the Red Sox, that meant Eduardo Rodriguez, who had a bit of a strange start. His stuff was fine and overall it didn’t seem like he pitched that poorly. But the Blue Jays still managed to dunk hits all around the field, and it wasn’t just of the weak variety. He started off the game by allowing a solid single to Marcus Semien right off the bat with his first pitch of the night. Semien would move on up to third, too, thanks to a ground ball followed by a passed ball, but Rodriguez got out of the inning without any damage.
The second didn’t go quite as smoothly for the Red Sox lefty, this time allowing a double to start off the inning. A couple of batters later, Cavan Biggo came through with a base hit to put runners on the corners. Rodriguez almost got out of the inning after a hard-hit liner went right at Xander Bogaerts for the second out, but Danny Jansen came through with another single, this one bringing in Toronto’s first run of the day.
The third saw it’s own trouble too, again with Toronto putting a lot of singles all over the park, though it started with a strikeout of Bo Bichette. That was followed by a pair of singles, however, and suddenly the Blue Jays were again challenging with just one out. This time, Rodriguez made the pitches he needed to, and Randal Grichuk grounded in an inning-ending double play to keep runs off the board for the inning.
Over on the other side, the Red Sox were going up against Hyun Jin Ryu, one of the best pitchers in baseball. They had gotten to him a bit earlier in the season, but it’s tough to beat him twice in a row. As they learned the hard way in this matchup. They didn’t get much of anything going in the first three innings, managing just a base hit in the first and nothing in the next two.
Thanks to Rodriguez wiggling out of trouble, they were fortunate to only be down 1-0 heading into the fourth. Here, they finally showed their first really signs of life. Alex Verdugo started things off with his second hit of the night, this one a double to put the leadoff man in scoring position. A couple batters later, Bogaerts reached on an infield single over to Bichette at shortstop, and just like that the Red Sox had a runner on third with just one out, a real chance to tie things up. That’s not what happened. Instead, Rafael Devers popped one up and Christian Vázquez flew out, and the opportunity was squandered.
Sure enough, as what seemingly always happens, the Blue Jays came right back and made the Red Sox pay for not striking when they had a chance. Toronto took over starting in the bottom of the fourth, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. starting things off with a double. Rodriguez actually did get a couple of outs after that, but he kept the inning going by walking the number nine hitter in Danny Jansen. It proved to be a fatal mistake. Toronto got a single — after which Hunter Renfroe missed the cutoff man on the throw to third, allowing a second run to score — and a double after that, and by the time the dust settled it was a 4-0 ballgame.
Boston would go down in three batters in the top of the fifth, in part because Renfroe overslid on a potential double and was tagged out for the first out, and Rodriguez came back out for the bottom of the inning. Again, Toronto managed to get some hits, smacking a leadoff double and a single a couple batters later to make it a five-run game. Rodriguez got out of the inning without any more runs, but that was the end of his day. He gave up a lot of singles, which in part is bad luck, but five of the seven singles he allowed were hit at least 100 mph. This has been an issue for him all season, and in this case at least it’s hard to chalk it up to the BABIP gods.
After the Red Sox got the leadoff man on in the sixth thanks to an error by Bichette but left him standing at first, it was Matt Andriese coming on for the sixth. He got two quick outs, but then picked up where Rodriguez left off, issuing a walk before giving up two singles. That was enough to put one more run on the board and make it a 6-0 game.
Boston again went down in order in the top of the seventh, with Andriese coming back out for the bottom of the inning. As he did in the sixth, the righty got two quick outs before Toronto kept the inning alive with yet another single, and then another one right after that. The second base hit was a weakly hit ball, but it served to put runners on the corners with the top of the lineup coming back around. Semien could have had another single, but Devers made a nice play at third base to steal it and end the inning.
The Red Sox had an uphill battle to climb if they were going to come back here, but the good news is Ryu was out of the game. It didn’t make too much of a difference, though. They got a couple men on with a walk and a single, but that was all they got as the shutout continued into the bottom of the eighth.
Matt Andriese would come back out for a third inning in the eighth, and he gave up two more runs on a home run from Grichuk to make it 8-0. The Red Sox offense would again go down with little challenge, and that was that. The one-sided shutout loss dropped the Red Sox record down to 25-18.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays continue this three-game set on Wednesday with the second game of the series, as Garrett Richards takes on Ross Stripling. First pitch is set for 7:37 PM ET.