It was not the most fun afternoon for Red Sox fans, who watched other contenders around the league improve via trade while their team stood pat. The consolations were A, that there was still time to make additions, and B, the team is still playing pretty well and had a chance to take three of four against Toronto with a win over the Blue Jays on Thursday. Well, uh, A is still in play, I suppose. The actual game on the field was a disaster, with Eduardo Rodriguez having nothing and being lifted in the fourth, and then the bullpen further imploding to give up 13 runs total between all of the pitchers. And we can’t let the offense off the hook either, as they scored just one run. It was just terrible all around.
With the Red Sox having been involved in some Max Scherzer rumors earlier in the day — it appears he and Trea Turner are going out to LA instead — the conversation around Boston’s potential need in the rotation came up. As someone who doesn’t really feel they need an upgrade there (but would welcome a big addition would open arms), a lot of that feeling had to do with confidence in Eduardo Rodriguez moving forward. The southpaw looked like a second half breakout candidate with his peripherals prior to the break, and he looked very good in his first start after the break. On Thursday, his first start since leaving a game early with migraines, that confidence was harder to stand by, at least to the same extent.
Rodriguez simply did not have it against Toronto. There have been games this year where he’s actually looked pretty good but tough luck resulted in a handful of runs being put on the board. This was not one of those games. He did start the game off with a strikeout, but then the hits came. He gave up a single and a double, and then after issuing a walk he gave up yet another double, this one off the bat of Teoscar Hernández out to deep right field. With just one out, the Blue Jays had a 2-0 lead.
Things didn’t stop there. Rodriguez did catch a little bit of a break when the Blue Jays ran the contact play with Bo Bichette at third base, and with the Red Sox playing the infield in they cut him down at the plate for a second out. But Toronto had the last laugh, getting one more in on a base hit from Cavan Biggio, making it a 3-0 inning after the top of the first.
Now, there was instant pressure for the Red Sox to get something going early and keep at least a share of the momentum in this game. Kiké Hernández hit a rocket off Hyun-Jin Ryu to start the bottom of the first with a wall-ball single, and they’d extend the inning thanks to a two-out error from Bichette, but ultimately it was the same thing we’d seen all series. The Red Sox had the chance, but didn’t come through.
The hope was that things would turn around for Rodriguez in the second and it would just be a shaky start, but those hopes were dashed fairly quickly. Reese McGuire immediately started the inning with his team’s third double of the day, and he’d come in on the very next at bat on a base hit to make it 4-0. Rodriguez did strike out the next three batters after that, but the Red Sox would waste yet another chance in the bottom half when they got two of their first three batters on, but scored no runs.
The southpaw had his only perfect inning of the game in the third, but the wheels really came off in the fourth. His command was just completely gone at this point, and Rodriguez started the inning off with a base hit and then issued two walks. There was a strikeout in the mix, but with one out and the bases full Alex Cora let his starter keep going, and issued a third walk of the inning. This one brought home Toronto’s fifth run of the night, and ended an ill-timed disappointing night for Rodriguez.
Phillips Valdez came on from here, and he’s done a good job of late coming into games early and keeping games in reach. That was not so much the case here on Thursday. He gave up one more run, charged to Rodriguez, in that inning, and then in the fifth he really let the game get away. Valdez issued two walks, and with two outs he left a changeup in the upper part of the zone to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and you can probably guess what happened next. It was a back-breaking three-run shot, and with the score 9-0 things were pretty much toast.
On the pitching side of things for the Red Sox, Brandon Workman came in for the sixth and struggled, allowing five hits in the inning en route to three more runs for Toronto. He’d get the seventh as well, giving up another run on two more hits. Darwinzon Hernandez had the eighth, and got through it without a run, while Kevin Plawecki got the ball for the ninth. The catcher tossed a perfect inning, because why not?
Over on the other side with the bats, the Red Sox offense couldn’t get anything after those first couple innings. They went down in order in each of the third, fourth, and fifth innings, a run that was ultimately broken up with an error. The seventh did finally break up the shutout, with Bobby Dalbec smacking an RBI double to center field, bringing Boston to within only 12. That would be it for the runs on the night.
Defensively things also got weird late in the game. In the seventh, Connor Wong entered the game to catch, moving Christian Vázquez to third base, Bobby Dalbec over to shortstop, and Michael Chavis coming in at second, all with Franchy Cordero at first. Plawecki would also eventually come in to take Cordero’s spot at first in the eighth before his frame on the mound. Cordero came back to first after an inning in right.
The 13-1 blowout loss dropped the Red Sox record down to 63-41. With the Rays coming out on the other side of a blowout, Boston’s lead in the division is down to one game.
The Red Sox now head down south for the biggest series of the season so far, taking on the Rays for three. They’ll have Martín Pérez on the mound for the first game of the series with Josh Fleming going for the Rays. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.