It’s not a secret at all how different this Red Sox team is from the squads they’ve run out in previous years. It’s seemed that since the second half of 2019, when things go poorly they rarely get better as the game goes on. This year’s team is reslient with a Capital-R. That was on full display in this game, as they fell down early, stormed right back with a huge second inning, then fell behind again late. The offense was dead for most of the night, but it came back alive in the ninth right when they needed them. It was a J.D. Martinez homer that really did the deed, and all eight runs the team scored came with two outs. It’s a different team this year, and in all kinds of good ways.
After the Red Sox got blown out on Tuesday to open this series against the Blue Jays, they came out firing right away on Wednesday to jump out to an early lead, one they would keep the whole game. Now there was a rubber match on our hands, and sure enough there were a whole lot of fireworks early in this game as well. Unfortunately for us, it was not on the Red Sox side, at least to start.
Instead, Boston went down in order against Steven Matz in the first inning, leaving open a chance for Toronto to take an early lead. That’s exactly what happened, though it started with a little Dunedin magic. Bo Bichette hit what looked like a routine fly ball to right field, but it just kept carrying and carrying, eventually smacking off the wall for a one-out double. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. came up after that, and he just straight-up smoked one. The results of the batted balls were the same, though, and the back-to-back doubles gave Toronto the early 1-0 lead.
Nick Pivetta, who had been doing so well coming into this start, followed up the two doubles by issuing his first walk of the evening to put two on with one out, and then Randal Grichuk gave the Blue Jays their third double of the inning and a 2-0 lead. They still had two in scoring position with just the one out, too, so there was a big chance for them to do real damage. Instead, Pivetta buckled down and limited the damage, getting a huge strikeout followed by a line out right at Xander Bogaerts to end the inning with the deficit only at two.
One characteristic of this Red Sox team in 2021 has been resilience, and they were not going to bow down after falling behind early. The top of the second was a wild one, with Matz getting two quick outs. But from there, the Red Sox bats caught fire. Christian Vázquez and Hunter Renfroe kept the inning alive with a pair of two-out singles, and then Bobby Dalbec came through with the big swing. he went the other way and put one off the foul pole in right field for a three-run shot, giving Boston a 3-2 lead.
They weren’t going to stop their two-out rally there, either. Michael Chavis followed up the homer with a double, and then Kiké Hernández, Alex Verdugo, and J.D. Martinez hit three straight singles to bring two more runs home, making it a 5-2 game. After Bogaerts drew a walk, Rafael Devers had a huge chance to blow the game open with the bases full, but he couldn’t add on. He’d strike out instead, but the Red Sox suddenly had a three-run lead.
The Blue Jays were again able to get to Pivetta in the second, again using a little bit of luck in their favor. This time they started with two quick outs, but then Marcus Semien kept the inning alive with a weak single out to right field. It was enough to bring Bichette back up, and once again he went to right field (though with a better struck ball) and once again got a double, bringing Semien all the way around to score and cut the lead down to two.
From here, the offenses went quiet for a couple of innings, with the Red Sox grounding into two double plays in the third and fourth before squandering two baserunners in the fifth. On the other side, Toronto went down in order in both the third and fourth innings.
That meant it was still a 5-3 ballgame heading into the bottom of the fifth, but again the Blue Jays got to Pivetta, and really just found the right spots in the Red Sox defense. The inning started with a leadoff walk, which is never good, and then a one-out single would put runners on the corners. Here, Teoscar Hernández hit a chopper over to the left side. It wasn’t a super easy play for Devers, but he mistimed the hops and got caught in between, resulting in an error and a run for Toronto. After the Red Sox then couldn’t quite turn a double play, there were once again runners on the corners, now with two outs. This time, Cavan Biggio hit one right into the hole created by the shift, giving him an easy single and giving the Blue Jays the tying run.
The Red Sox offense wasn't able to answer this time, keeping the game tied as we headed into the bottom of the sixth with Hirokazu Sawamura entering the game for Boston. The inning did not start well as Danny Jansen ripped one into right-center field. Kiké Hernández couldn’t come up with the diving catch, and to make matters worse Renfroe bobbled the ball backing him up. The error on the latter portion of the play put Jansen at third, allowing him to easily score when Jonathan Davis followed it up with a base hit.
That gave Toronto a 6-5 lead, and after finally getting the first out he issued a walk to put two on with just one out for Guerrero Jr. Sawamura was able to win that battle with a big strikeout, but then Teoscar Hernández hit one to the left side. Bogaerts made a nice diving stop, but Chavis couldn’t handle the frankly simple flip, keeping the inning going with the bags now full. Of course that would come back to bite them, as Grichuk put a base hit into right field to make it a 7-5 game. It was up to Darwinzon Hernandez to come in and prevent anything more being added, and he did just that.
Once again Boston’s bats couldn’t answer back in the top of the seventh, going down in order to keep the deficit at two with Hernandez coming back out for the bottom of the inning. He was able to get a couple of quick outs before issuing a walk, ending his night with Phillips Valdez entering with a man on and two outs. He only needed one pitch to get a ground ball and end the inning.
The Red Sox offense now had only six more outs to play with, still trailing by three. They still had no life, though, and once again they went down in order, keeping the deficit at two. Valdez came out for a three-batter inning in the bottom of the inning, and the Red Sox had one more chance to at least tie it back up in the ninth with the bottom of the order coming up.
Boston did finally get another baserunner — their first since the fifth inning — to lead off the inning with Dalbec reaching on an infield single. That was followed by a single from Chavis, and suddenly there were two on with nobody out. Rafael Dolis came back with a big strikeout after that for the first out, but then threw a pitch in the dirt that Jansen could not block. Just like that, the tying run was standing on second with Verdugo at the plate. Boston did get one run home on a ground out to first.
Now Chavis was standing at third representing the tying run with two outs and Martinez coming up to the plate. Martinez did the thing. He got ahold of one and sent it the other ways to the power alley in right field. The ball flies in that direction, and it carried all the way over the fence for a two-run shot, and suddenly the Red Sox were back out in front 8-7.
Now, it was up to Matt Barnes to finish off what would be a big win for this Red Sox team. The closer was coming off a blown save in his last outing on Sunday, but he bounced back here. Barnes started the inning with two strikeouts, but then issued a walk to keep the inning alive. That was all he’d give up, though, closing out a one-run victory that pushed the Red Sox record to 27-18.
The Red Sox now head to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies for a three-game set this weekend. They’ll have Martín Pérez on the mound for game one with Aaron Nola going for the Phillies. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.