The Red Sox are back in the win column! After a just totally demoralizing loss on Tuesday, they got their manager back in the dugout, and Michael Wacha on the mound, which has been a very good thing in 2022. His fourth start was another very good one for the righty, who allowed just one run over six innings of work. That was plenty for an offense that still had some frustrating moments, but put five runs on the board behind yet another big day from Xander Bogaerts, this time with a four-hit game. Relatively stress-free wins. What a concept!
More robust game notes below.
The Red Sox offense has certainly been in a bad way for a little bit now, and it hasn’t just been the first two games of this series. But it has continued into Toronto, and aside from an inning here or an inning there they are just getting nothing going. To be fair, though, they’ve faced some really good pitchers in José Berríos and Kevin Gausman, the latter perhaps being the best pitcher in the game early on in this season. With Ross Stripling getting the ball for Toronto in this game, they wouldn’t have that excuse. They had to build off their late-game rally Tuesday night and get something going here on Wednesday.
In the first inning, they were successful on that front and were in fact able to take an early lead. The rally came with two outs, too, starting with Xander Bogaerts reaching on an infield single. Rafael Devers, back in the lineup after three quarters of a game off on Tuesday, followed that up with a double into center field. George Springer was shaded over to left field, which gave Bogaerts just enough time to get on his horse and make it around from first base to give Boston the 1-0 lead. They couldn’t add on with Devers in scoring position, but they’d take the lead.
They had another big chance in the third, too, starting with back-to-back singles from Kevin Plawecki and Trevor Story. Bogaerts joined the singles party a couple batters later, and the Red Sox had Stripling on the ropes with the bases loaded, just one out, and the heart of the order coming up in Devers and J.D. Martinez. But as has happened so often this year, as soon as they had a chance to put a pitcher away, they went into hibernation for a long stretch. Both Devers and Martinez would strike out to end that inning, and they were the first of eight straight Stripling retired to get through five with still just the one run on the board. Six of those eight batters struck out, with the other two popping out behind the plate and grounding out.
The good news for the Red Sox is they had one of their positive surprises of this young season, Michael Wacha, on the mound. And he looked every bit as good as he has in his other starts. The changeup has really been the standout offering from the righty this season, and he once again relied on that pitch to get him through this outing.
After getting through the first two innings with one baserunner but no runs, Wacha got into his first bit of trouble in the third, though his defense did not do him any favors. The inning started with back-to-back singles, but it looked like Wacha got the big double play ball he needed in the next at bat. Story, though, could not get a handle on the ball transferring from the glove to his hand, and the Red Sox had to settle for just cutting down the middle man at second base. With runners now on the corners, Wacha got another potential double play ball, this time to Bogaerts. He made the play, but Story again bobbled it while trying to turn the double play, again only recording one out and this time with a run coming home on top of it.
Wacha did get out of that inning after that, and he continued to pitch well to keep the game tied heading into the sixth. Toronto went to their bullpen at this point, and the Red Sox could not have been happier. They started the inning with two straight singles, and then Martinez got one off the end of his bat to fall in, bringing home Bogaerts and putting Boston back up by one. Enrique Hernández followed that up with a sacrifice fly, and it was a 3-1 edge for the good guys.
That lead would hold through the bottom of the inning as well, with Wacha having one more perfect inning in him before his night ended. It was another really impressive showing from the Red Sox righty, getting through six with just one run allowed, bringing his season ERA down to 1.77.
It was still a 3-1 game into the bottom of the seventh after the Red Sox offense stranded a pair, and Jake Diekman was back out on the mound a night after blowing a three-run lead in the ninth. The lefty did strike out two, but also issued a walk before Springer, who hit the game-tying homer on Tuesday, came up. Alex Cora, back in the dugout for this game, was not going to let that matchup happen twice, instead calling upon Hirokazu Sawamura. He didn’t get Springer, giving up a base hit to put runners on the corners, but he came back to strike out Bo Bichette, stranding two and keeping the two-run lead in hand.
The offense got back to work in the eighth, adding two more runs on back-to-back doubles, and then a little small ball with a sacrifice bunt followed by a sacrifice fly, and it was a 5-1 lead with John Schreiber coming in for his first appearance in the majors this season, having been called up as one of the pitchers to replace Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford. He had no issues in a perfect inning of work.
Two more runs were put on the board in the ninth, leaving a six-run lead to be protected for the final three outs, which Tyler Danish was tasked to record. He had no issues either, retiring the side in order to snap the four-game losing streak and finish off the 7-1 victory.
The Red Sox now have a chance to steal a split in this series on Thursday, with Garrett Whitlock back on the mound. He’ll be taking on Alek Manoah, with first pitch at 3:07 PM ET.