The Red Sox just cannot seem to break out of their funk with runners in scoring position. Boston’s offense was on fire out of the gate in this one against José Berríos and the Blue Jays, but they only scored one run with those chances and went 1-14 with runners in scoring position on the night. With Nick Pivetta getting lit up for five runs in the second, combined with the lack of situational hitting, this one felt like it was over just an inning and a half in, even though the Red Sox were always just within arm’s reach. Oh, and J.D. Martinez left the game with a hip injury, the severity of which is unknown to this point. Boston has been bouncing back and forth all year so far hovering around .500, and with the loss on Wednesday they are back to an even record.
More robust game notes below.
Coming off an emotional on-field tribute to Jerry Remy before the game, it looked like the Red Sox were running out to a hot start in this game. Nick Pivetta looked solid trying to rebound from an atrocious home debut, working around a two-out walk for a scoreless first. And then on the other side, the Red Sox were all over José Berríos. They put four balls in play against the Blue Jays starter in that first inning, and all of them were over 105 mph off the bat. However, one of those was an out, and there were two strikeouts mixed in and the Red Sox only managed one run in the inning despite all of the extremely loud contact. Depending on your point of view, it was either a good sign with how well they were seeing the ball early, or a bad sign with yet another wasted opportunity.
The optimists didn’t have too much time to feel good. After that solid first, Pivetta couldn’t get anything going in the second inning. If you’ll recall, it was a similar story last time out against the Twins, when he only lasted the two innings. Here on Wednesday, the righty started his second inning giving up a hard-hit single to Matt Chapman, bringing Raimel Tapia to the plate. Pivetta wanted to get a curveball at the bottom of the zone or just below it, trying to induce a ground ball. Instead, it broke right over the heart of the plate and Tapia sent a majestic fly ball out to the right field corner. It drifted into the seats for a two-run shot, and the Blue Jays took the 2-1 lead.
From there, Pivetta lost the zone, walking the next two batters he faced with the second one coming on four pitches. After Cavan Biggio blooped a jam shot into center field to load the bases, George Springer brought one home with a sacrifice fly, and then Bo Bichette knocked in two more with a single of his own. Pivetta had one more walk in him before mercifully getting the final two outs of the inning, but not before coughing up five runs and putting his team in a four-run deficit.
To his credit, the Red Sox starter did settle in for a couple of innings after that, at least saving the bullpen for a couple more innings. There were singles in each of the third and fourth frames for Toronto, but that was all they’d get in both innings as he kept the Jays off the board and gave his offense some time to come back.
Unfortunately, they didn’t keep that momentum of the hard contact from the first inning as Berríos also settled into something of a groove. In the second, they did get back-to-back one-out singles from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Connor Wong in the eight and nine spots, but the top of the lineup left the runners on base.
In the third, things got off to a good start when J.D. Martinez led off the inning with a double, his second hit of the game. When he was going into second base, though, he tweaked something in his hip and had to leave the game. A couple batters later, things got scary when Trevor Story was hit square in the helmet with a Berríos fastball, but after a couple of minutes talking with the trainer he remained in the game. There were no runs in the inning as Boston still trailed 5-1, but that they only lost one player to injury seemed like a win.
After Pivetta exited the game, the Red Sox turned to Phillips Valdez to start out the fifth, trying to keep the game in reach. It’s a tough situation to come into these sort-of mop-up roles, but Valdez did well. He didn’t allow a run in either the fifth or sixth inning, getting a big double play in the latter frame after hitting the leadoff batter with a pitch. The Red Sox offense continued not to oblige, though, and they still trailed 5-1 after six.
For the seventh inning, it was Matt Barnes on the mound as he looks to get back into a more important role. He did look a little bit better than he has since the start of camp, but still not anything close to the guy we saw in the first half of last season. The righty gave up a single to start the inning, and then after a stolen base he got into a little bit of trouble when he struck out Tapia but still allowed him to reach with the ball getting by Wong behind the plate. That put runners on the corners with one out, and Toronto did add one run on with a sacrifice fly, making it a 6-1 game.
With time now very much starting to run out for the offense, they finally got into the bullpen for the seventh with Tim Mayza coming on for the Blue Jays. Sure enough, there was some life for the home team with back-to-back one-out singles to create a little momentum. A ground ball moved both runners over to scoring position, giving Story a chance for a big hit, but he went down swinging to kill the rally and keep the deficit at five.
That would pretty much do it for this game, another frustrating performance from the offense. They went down without much fight in their final two chances, while more positively Tyler Danish came on for two scoreless innings to finish another strong night for Boston’s bullpen. But still, it was a frustrating, 6-1 loss for the Red Sox to fall back to .500.
Boston and Toronto now have a rubber match on the docket for Thursday afternoon, as Tanner Houck takes on Kevin Gausman. First pitch is set for 1:35 PM ET.