At first, it looked like the Boston Red Sox would have an easy night, cruising to a big lead. That fantasy was shortly ended by the Toronto Blue Jays, as they just kept hitting the Red Sox pitchers around Fenway Park, last evening.
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In front of over 33 900 fans, on a partly-cloudy, cool day in Boston, the two aces squared off. The Red Sox Clay Buchholz took the mound, while the Blue Jays countered with Drew Hutchison. Both men likely expected to have good results; however, an ill wind flew through their hopes, and it wasn’t the 18 mph wind that came from left field.
In the bottom of the second inning, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts singled to right field, cashing in Pablo Sandoval, who was back from leaving the game the night before with a neck injury. Center fielder Mookie Betts, the hero of that game, later singled to score Bogaerts. The next batter Dustin Pedroia singled, as well, scoring catcher Ryan Hanigan. To cap off the run total for the frame, designated hitter David Ortiz got into the action, blooping a single to left field, scoring Betts. Nothing in that inning looked like Hutchison was getting pounded, with all of the looping hits spread around the field, yet it punished the Blue Jays severely for four runs.
While many Blue Jays fans were gnashing their teeth in disgust, Red Sox Nation must have felt that, finally, their team would be able to relax. They wouldn’t need to make a daring comeback and keep everyone in suspense all night. Considering the game started at 6:10 PM, maybe everyone would have an early night for a change.
Guess again, Red Sox fans! These pitchers don’t know the meaning of the words ‘early night’, except maybe being pulled from the game in the young half of the innings. As soon as Buchholz stepped back on the mound in the top of the third, the Blue Jays’ lineup responded for their ace.
Apr 28, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox managerJohn Farrell
(53) takes the ball from starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) during the third inning agains the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
After Kevin Pillar earned a leadoff walk (a deadly sin for pitchers) and Ryan Goins singled, Devon Travis hit a single hard to right field, scoring Pillar. A quick visit to the mound did not help matters for Buchholz, who seemed rattled, as Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson then smacked a single back to right field, scoring Goins. Jose Bautista, the face of Toronto’s franchise, recently back from injury, was up next and hit a sacrifice fly to right field, once again, scoring Travis. Edwin Encarnacion decided to spice things up a bit by hitting to left field, instead, scoring Donaldson. Encarnacion was able to move to second base, on a throwing error by Red Sox left fielder Hanley Ramirez on the play. Michael Saunders, mercifully, ended Buchholz’s night by hitting a single, once again to right field, to score Encarnacion.
The only out that Buchholz recorded in the inning, that didn’t cost him a run, was striking out Blue Jays catcher, Russell Martin. The Red Sox ace lasted just 2.2 innings, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits, a walk, and 4 strikeouts.
Edward Mujica came in to relieve Buchholz, but he would need relief of his own, very shortly after. In the top of the fourth inning, Pillar started the offence again, with a single that got passed Sandoval. Goins hitting into a double-play should have made the outcome different, this time, but after walking Travis and Donaldson, Mujica threw a 90 mph fastball right where Bautista could hit it to right field. Anyone else noticing a trend? The play scored Travis. Then, while pitching to Encarnacion, Mujica balked, allowing Donaldson to score. It was an obvious call for the umpire, as Mujica never set his hands before pitching. Encarnacion made him pay even more by spanking a pitch to left field, cashing in Donaldson.
Edwin must just like pulling the ball; everyone else kept going to the right.
Finally, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Red Sox responded. Ortiz hit a sacrifice fly to score Betts. But, that was all that Boston could muster before the Blue Jays struck again.
The fifth inning had both clubs trade runs. Goins hit a triple to, yes, you guessed it, right field to score Pillar. The Red Sox knocked Hutchison out of the game by getting a single and two walks to load the bases, where Marco Estrada was brought in for relief. That relief turned into walking Betts to allow a run to cross the plate.
With the score 9-6 for the Blue Jays, Bautista decided to add to the total. He hit a huge solo bomb to left field, after Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow was foolish enough to pitch a 79 mph changeup low and inside, Bautista’s wheelhouse. Hanley Ramirez responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer of his own to right field, scoring Ortiz.
A Donaldson solo home run capped off the night, in the ninth inning, off of Junichi Tazawa, as the Red Sox made no dramatic comeback. The Blue Jays won 11-8.
- Martin had trouble catching many of the Blue Jays’ pitching staff, as many of them threw low, near the dirt, or not where he wanted the pitches. He even had a passed ball.
- Hutchison finished with 4.0 innings of work, giving up 6 runs on 9 hits and 5 walks. Do we dare compare the aces, after those performances?
- The Blue Jays were 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position; the Red Sox were 5-for-16. The Blue Jays ended with 10 men left on base, while the Red Sox left 11 baserunners.
- Sandoval went 4-for-5 at the plate, but could not cash in a run, as either nobody was on base yet or they were already belted in earlier.
- Betts, Ortiz, and Ramirez all had 2 hits and 2 RBIs for the night.
- Allen Craig came in as a pinch hitter for Daniel Nava, but failed to get a hit or cash a run across home plate.
Even before he had a four-run lead, Buchholz looked nervous. He threw over to first base, with a runner diving back to the bag, like as if he was delaying the inevitable, with a twitch of his face and hands. When you have that big of a lead that early in a ballgame, you should relax a bit, at least the nerves. Stay strong, stay dominant, but don’t take your hands off of the wheel after your teammates put the game into cruise control. The team bus can’t drive itself. No matter how many runs that the Red Sox score, it was never enough to come back in this game. And that mood started with Buchholz letting the Blue Jays back in the game, and backing up the Red Sox fan bus from reaching victory in time.
The game ball goes to Mujica, but the entire bullpen, aside fromRobbie Ross
, made mistakes that cost runs. Buchholz was only on the hook for 4 earned runs, 5 in total. The rest of the 11 runs came from the relief pitching. The Blue Jays, in total, hit 11 times after the starter left the game. That will not get the job done, gentlemen. Nobody says the life of a relief pitcher is easy, but your job is to stem the tide. Technically, the tide got bigger when Buchholz left. Mujica got the worst of it, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in 1.1 innings. Someone throw these men life-preserver jackets; they went overboard into Toronto’s blue waters.
Normally, this event never happens. However, the way that the entire lineup kept fighting off pitches to either get on base or smash home runs, the team deserves the game ball. As a team, they scored 8 runs on 13 hits and 7 walks to only 6 strikeouts. The first 5 batters scored 7 out of those 8 runs, with Bogaerts earning an RBI as well. Even Sandoval, in the six-spot, had a great night at the plate. He didn’t get an RBI, but he crossed home twice. Normally, this display of offense would lead to a win. Last night, it barely kept them in the game.
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