Heading into Wednesday’s game down in Dunedin, Boston was in danger of losing the top spot in the American League East. This game was coming on the heels of an all-around beatdown on Tuesday, and they were looking to put that one behind them as quickly as possible. They couldn’t have done it any more quickly. The Red Sox jumped out to the early lead and never looked back, with Garrett Richards getting some help from his defense and working out of trouble all night to put together a solid outing. All in all, it’s exactly the answer to Tuesday they needed to show.
The Red Sox had a horrible night all around on Tuesday, and that obviously included their offense. The lineup was totally overmatched by a great pitcher in Hyun Jin Ryu, and they were looking for a chance to bounce back against a guy in Ross Stripling who has solid stuff but who can also be quite hittable. They wasted absolutely no time to put Tuesday in the rearview and jumping all over the Blue Jays starter.
It was, as always, Kiké Hernández in the leadoff spot, and he started a big night in the first with a base hit on a line into left field. That brought Alex Verdugo to the plate, and he’s the guy who really got the party started. Fully out of the slump in which he was mired not too long ago, he got a slider that stayed right up in the top part of the zone and launched it. It was a no-doubt shot out to right field, and it gave the Red Sox the early 2-0 lead. J.D. Martinez decided that looked like fun, and when he got a high breaking ball of his own he went the other way with it for the same result, putting one more on the board and extending the lead to three.
That was it for homers in that top half of the first, but it wasn’t it for offense. Xander Bogaerts made it four straight hits to start the inning with a base hit, and then Rafael Devers upped the streak to five with a double. That also served to put a pair into scoring position, and while Christian Vázquez finally made the first out of the inning, it was on a grounder up the middle that brought one run home and moved Devers to third. A couple batters later, Bobby Dalbec ripped a double into right field, and that brought home the final run of the inning. All told, Boston got themselves a five-run cushion before they even had to throw a pitch.
The offense continued against Stripling in the second, albeit not to the same extent. They did get one big swing in the inning, though, and that was from Hernández. He’s been swinging a solid bat since his return, and he hit a moonshot in this at bat. It was a 2-0 fastball that just didn’t get down enough and Hernández hit a no-doubt shot to left field to make it six runs for the Sox.
So, with that cushion it was just about Garrett Richards doing the job on the mound and not imploding. He’d been pretty great for his last four starts, but the start right before this run came against this same Toronto lineup. And as it turned out, he did not have the command he’d been showing off for this recent run. Despite that, he was able to keep his team in front rather comfortably.
It was the first inning that looked most troubling. He started the game off with a walk to Marcus Semien, and then Bo Bichette hit a double out to right-center field. Semien was on his horse from first, but at third he initially ran through a stop sign before retreating back to third. That was a big mistake, as the Red Sox caught him on the way back for the first out of the inning. Richards responded by giving up yet another double right after that to put the Blue Jays on the board very quickly, and then walked the guy after that. Fortunately, he didn’t let this one snowball, getting a grounder and a strikeout to end the inning with only one run on the board.
From there, things got a bit easier. In the second, Richards only faced three batters despite a walk thanks to an inning-ending double play. The third saw a leadoff double, but three straight outs after that to keep the runner at second base. Boston then got double plays to end both the fourth and fifth innings to keep the Blue Jays at just one run for the night.
The bad news is the Red Sox weren’t really getting much of anything going at the plate themselves, so it was still a 6-1 ballgame when Richards came back out for the sixth. The righty again allowed a runner to reach base as he had for every inning prior to this as well, but again didn’t allow them to come in. He’d come back out for the seventh with the same score as well, and he got two strikeouts to start off the inning.
Richards couldn’t quite finish things off, though, allowing a two-out double to keep the seventh going, and that would end his night. In his stead, Garrett Whitlock entered looking for a quick out to end the inning. Semien had other ideas. The Red Sox rookie left a 3-2 sinker up in the zone, and Semien launched it out to left for a two-run shot. Suddenly, it was a three-run game. Whitlock got out of it after that, but it was a close game, really for the first time all night.
That was a little bit of a jolt needed for the Red Sox offense, apparently, because they did get one of those runs back, and they did so once again with the long ball. This time it was Vázquez putting it out, not only extending the cushion to four runs but also getting on the homer board for the first time since April 7.
For the bottom of the eighth, it was Adam Ottavino getting the call. It’s been an up and down year for him, but this was a good night for the veteran. He allowed just an infield single and was perfect beyond that to keep the score at 7-3 heading into the ninth.
The Red Sox decided to go with Josh Taylor for the ninth with the four-run lead. It worked out, as the lefty wasn’t perfect but he worked around a one-out walk to get out of the inning and close out the win. Boston’s victory pushed their record to 26-18.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays now have a rubber match on Thursday for the series. Boston will send Martín Pérez to the bump while the Jays counter with Steen Matz. First pitch is set for 7:37 PM ET.