On a night when the Red Sox were trying to snap an eight game losing streak, many things happened which have made losing streaks so common this year. The offense could not generate many runs. Balls that needed to be caught went just out of Red Sox fielders reach. Pitchers could not close the deal. Clay Buchholz pitched well and deserved a better fate, which is another common theme for Red Sox starters this season. He took a shutout into the ninth inning, but as recent history has shown that is far from a sure victory.
The Red Sox opened the scoring in a way that has been rare this season. Mookie Betts hit his first career road home run in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Dustin Pedroia continued the power surge with his own home run to left field driving in Christian Vazquez who had walked. This was the first time since July 21 that the Red Sox had homered twice in one inning. Aside from the occasional runner in scoring position and a squandered two on, no out, chance in the fourth inning, these homers were the extent of the Red Sox offense for the night.
The ninth inning would have been started by Koji Uehara under normal circumstances but his recent struggles, and a tired bullpen, caused John Farrell to try to let Buchholz complete the game. Buchholz was cruising, allowing only two hits through eight. His pitch count was only at 89. Two seeing eye singles with one out and a walk, in which Buchholz did not get the automatic 3-0 strike call on a close pitch, loaded the bases. Koji came on to close things out but was not up to the task once again. If there had not been a shift against Adam Lind, perhaps they could have turned two on a slow hit ball toward second base, but with the shift on, they could only get one out. With two outs and the bases loaded, Edwin Encarnacion hit a towering double to the left field wall over the outstretched glove of Yoenis Cespedes in left field to tie the game. This was the first hard hit ball the whole inning.
In the tenth inning. Brock Holt singled to deep short, stole second and third, and scored on a two out Cespedes single. Somehow Cespedes was able to stay back on a curve ball and line it to center field for the 4-3 lead. Showing his lack of trust in Koji, Farrell went to Craig Breslow to start the tenth, though he had been scored on in seven of his last 11 appearances. With the exception of a walk, and with Edward Mujica warming in the bullpen, Breslow was able to get Jose Reyes to foul out to first to end the game. This was Breslow’s first save since 2010.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it would seem that John Farrell’s confidence is shaken in Uehara. Expect Mujica to get more chances going forward. For tonight, though, Holt, Breslow, and Cespedes were the heroes as the Red Sox managed to eke out a 4-3 victory over Toronto.