What a night at Fenway. The Red Sox were behind early in this game, with Garrett Richards struggling early on and putting his team in a hole. The offense was quiet for the first half of the night, but then they started to get some things going. A late rally, combined with some terrible pitching from Tyler Chatwood, bad defense from the Blue Jays, and some impossibly bad clutch hitting from Toronto, led to an eventual walk off victory. They didn’t deserve to win, but it counts all the same toward the standings.
Garrett Richards has had a mildly annoying habit lately of getting into a whole lot of trouble, especially early in games. Now, to his credit, the righty is mostly getting solid results, and pretty much always keeping the team in the game. He has also been pretty solid most of the time of recovering after a tough start and putting together strong finishes. The problem is he labors early, and and lately has been putting the offense in a position where they need to come from behind right off the bat.
That was the case here on Friday with the Blue Jays in town for the first four games at Fenway. They got to Richards pretty much right away and were hitting him all over the place. Richards walked the first batter of the game, and then after getting an out he gave up a rocket of a single to Valdimir Guerrero Jr. before Teoscar Hernández smacked one of his own, giving Toronto the 1-0 lead. They’d get another single after that — and while these were three singles, they were all hit very hard — but then Richards did his thing to get out of the inning without another run. So, in typical fashion on days when he starts lately, they started in a hole but still felt kind of good because it could have been worse.
The second inning didn’t really get much easier, though. Reese McGuire started the rally with a double out off the Monster — Toronto abused the left-field wall all night — to put a runner in scoring position with just one out. After getting the second out, Ricahrds couldn’t wiggle completely out of the jam, giving up an RBI single, and then another after issuing a walk. Eventually, it was a two-run inning for Richards with his pitch count already over 60.
So, the actual scoreboard didn’t look great through two innings, but the Blue Jays were putting solid wood on everything and Richards’s pitch count was already losing control. It looked like he was going to be knocked out very early. But instead, he settled down a bit. He worked around a single and a wild pitch for a scoreless third, then worked around a double for a scoreless, five-pitch fourth inning. He even got through five, using a double play to work around a single and a double for another scoreless inning.
All in all, despite the fact that it was ugly for much of the game, Richards again put his offense in a position where the margin was far from insurmountable. Unfortunately, they had some trouble against Ross Stripling here. They got to the Blue Jays righty earlier this year, but he came in on a hot streak and he was still feeling it this time out. He made it through the first two innings fairly handily, allowing just a single to Alex Verdugo in the first, although an error put him on third base with just one out.
Still, Stripling was now holding a 3-0 lead, and the Red Sox were looking for just any signs of life. They got a little bit of that in the third inning, with Bobby Dalbec coming up with the bases empty and one out. He didn’t wait very long, as Stripling threw a first-pitch fastball that stayed right over the plate. Dalbec was all over it, sending it out to center field for a no-doubt shot and putting the Red Sox on the board.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the start of a big push on the scoreboard. Instead, the bats went quiet again, managing to draw just a couple of walks through the fifth inning to keep just the one run on the board.
Meanwhile, Richards would come back out for the sixth, which seemed impossible just a few frames earlier. He got a quick first out, but then after giving up a single his night was over, with Hirokazu Sawamura coming to the mound. The righty had been dealing with a minor injury and was out the last few days, but he was back today and got a quick second out in the inning. That brought Guerrero back to the plate. Sawamura got ahead 0-2, but then didn’t get a fastball high enough and Guerrero made him pay. It was a no-doubt missle out to left field, and it gave Toronto a four-run lead.
The Red Sox, however, did have some answers in the following inning when Alex Verdugo got things going with a leadoff double. It looked like he’d be stranded without scoring after two quick outs, but then Hunter Renfroe brought him home with a base hit to cut the deficit to three. Christian Vázquez then kept the inning alive with a base hit before Toronto went to the bullpen.
Tyler Chatwood came on to pitch, and promptly hit Christian Arroyo with a pitch to load the bases for Marwin Gonzalez. Chatwood then threw four straight balls, and suddenly it was right back to being a two-run game with the bases still full. The Blue Jays righty continued to just have no idea where the ball was going out of his hand, this time throwing a wild pitch to bring yet another run home, cutting the deficit down to one. He’d then hit Dalbec, and that was his night without recording a single out.
Tim Mayza was able to come in and strand them loaded, but the Red Sox were back within one heading into the seventh. That brought Brandon Workman into the game, but he would struggle, following up an out with a single and a double to put a pair in scoring position. That would mark the end of his night, with Josh Taylor trying to get out of the jam. He did just that, striking out two and keeping his team within one.
After the offense failed to bring home the tying run in the bottom of the seventh, it was Garrett Whitlock facing just three batters in the eighth to keep his team within one. The beautiful thing about a one-run game is you only need one swing, and the Red Sox got it. A night after hitting a clutch game-tying homer against the Astros. Christian Arroyo was at it again. Once again it was a no-doubt shot to left field, and it was a brand new ballgame.
With the new ballgame, the Red Sox did not bring out a new pitcher, giving Whitlock another chance to keep things up in the ninth. Things didn’t get off to a good start when the leadoff man reached on an error after Rafael Devers couldn’t keep his throw on the mark after a tough play. After getting the first out, Whitlock then gave up another base hit to put runners on the corners with just one out. He’d get a big strikeout for the second out, and then the Red Sox decided to intentionally walk Cavan Biggio to load the bases. It looked like the move paid off when Whitlock got a pop up in foul ground right after that, but Dalbec dropped it, opening the door for Toronto to take the lead. Instead, Whitlock got a ground ball on the next pitch to keep the game tied and give the Red Sox a chance to walk it off in the ninth.
With rain that had been a drizzle for much of the night starting to pick up, Boston had the top of the order coming up. They caught a break off the bat, as it looked like Kiké Hernández hit a routine ground ball. The throw got away a bit, and then when the first baseman tried to apply the tag the ball came out, allowing Hernández to get to second on the error. With Danny Santana pinch running at second, Verdugo stepped to the plate and got the job done. He put one off the Monster for an easy run, and that was a walk off.
The thrilling, come-from-behind victory pushed the Red Sox record to 39-25 on the year.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays continue this four-game set on Saturday, with Nick Pivetta taking the mound against Steven Matz. First pitch is set for 4:10 PM ET.