The Red Sox finally got some momentum going with the bats on Wednesday, scoring seven runs in a win against the Blue Jays. They came back the next day facing one of the best up-and-coming pitchers in the game in Alek Manoah, and put Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez on the bench. Now, I don’t have strong feelings about this either way because on the one hand it feels counter-productive in the here and now, but on the other Alex Cora has had success with these planned off-days and sticking to them no matter what. But in the here and now, it hurt, as did having to face Manoah. The Blue Jays starter was awesome, while Garrett Whitlock was effective but inefficient. Boston’s bullpen did everything they could as well, but with a punchless offense for the Sox a single unearned run for Toronto was enough for a Blue Jays win.
More robust game notes below.
One of the biggest stories around the Red Sox right now is what is going to happen with their rotation moving forward. Garrett Whitlock has been a key weapon out of the bullpen since the start of last season, but after shining in his first career start last weekend there’s an argument for him to stick there. We’d have a better idea on that argument after Thursday, with the righty making his second career start in Toronto against the Blue Jays. It was kind of a weird outing for Whitlock, and not one we’re used to seeing from him. He wasn’t bad, working out of trouble and getting hurt some by his defense, but he was inefficient and inconsistent, while also still being kept on a short leash pitch count wise. All of that led to a solid, but short start.
You could kind of tell he was off a bit in the very first inning, as he had entered the game having allowed just one hit to a righty all year, but both Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (each of whom is a righty) smacked hard-hit singles. But he worked out of the jam, ending the inning on a nasty slider out of the zone to get Matt Chapman swining.
The second went similarly with another one-out single from a righty followed by a walk, and then his defense hurt him. On a should-be double play, the toss to Christian Arroyo, who got the start at shortstop with Xander Bogaerts getting a scheduled day off, and he couldn’t make a quick turn, allowing Bradley Zimmer to just get in safely at first and continue the inning with runners on the corners. But again, Whitlock worked out of it, getting George Springer to pop out and stand the baserunners.
There was only one more inning in this game for the Red Sox starter, entering the third with 39 pitches and needing 22 to get out of this inning. He wouldn’t leave unscathed, either, though it was charged to the defense. That’s because on a one-out grounder from Gurriel, Arroyo unsuccessfully tried to pick it with the backhand, letting the batter reach on an error. After another walk, Whitlock did get a second out with a strikeout, but then he couldn’t put away Alejandro Kirk with an 0-2 count. Instead, the Blue Jays catcher gave Toronto their first run with an RBI single. So it was just the one unearned run from Whitlock, and he didn’t give up any extra-base hits, but the Red Sox would’ve liked to see some more efficiency in this start.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense had their hands full against Alek Manoah, who seems poised to break out this year and put himself on the map as one of the better arms in the American League. He sure looked the part in this game, keeping the Red Sox offense off-balance all afternoon. Alex Verdugo reached as the second batter of the game with a single, but Manoah went into cruise control after that. He’d retire the next two batters to get out of the inning, and turn that into a streak of 12 straight batters retired. It was broken up with an Arroyo single in the fifth, but again that was all Boston got. Manoah would issue his first walk in the sixth, too, but again ensured no Red Sox runner would advance beyond first base.
The good news is the Red Sox bullpen was able to keep the score at 1-0 thanks to a combined three scoreless innings from Austin Davis, John Schreiber, and Ryan Brasier. That turned into a big deal when Manoah came back out for the seventh and Boston got both their first extra-base hit as well as their first leadoff man to reach base when Enrique Hernández put a fly ball on the right field line for a leadoff double. The runner would move up to third on a swinging bunt from Jackie Bradley Jr., but Arroyo couldn’t get the runner home on a line drive right at shortstop Bo Bichette. That left things up to Bobby Dalbec, whose lazy pop up in foul ground ended up the last out of the inning with the Red Sox wasting the leadoff double.
Matt Barnes did his job in the bottom half of that inning to keep it a 1-0 game, and the Red Sox offense had six more outs to play with, though now against the Toronto bullpen instead of Manoah. And to start off the eighth, they called on Bogaerts to pinch hit for Travis Shaw. He didn’t make the contact he wanted, tapping out to the pitcher to start a 1-2-3 inning.
After a scoreless bottom half of the eighth from Hansel Robles, there was one more chance for the offense with the middle of the order coming around. They did get the tying run on base with Devers ripping a single back up through the middle. That was all they’d get in the inning, though, as a frustrating day came to an end with a 1-0 loss.
The Red Sox now head south to Baltimore looking to turn things around against the Orioles. They’ll have Rich Hill on the mound, while the O’s have yet to announce their pitching plans for the weekend. First pitch for the series opener on Friday is set for 7:05 PM ET.