Red Sox Recap: Avoided Sweep By Blue Jays
The Boston Red Sox gave all Red Sox Nation mothers a present, yesterday. On Mother’s Day, they ganged up on Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, early, to avoid the series sweep.
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In front of over 42 400 fans in the Rogers Centre, in Toronto, the Red Sox made a statement in the top of the first inning. For the last two games, the Blue Jays drew first blood in the scoring. In this game, however, Boston didn’t just draw first blood; the Red Sox raked the knuckleball over hot coals, torturing Blue Jays fans with each at-bat.
Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts started the game with Dickey throwing him a knuckleball out of the strikezone, pretty badly located. From that moment on, the Red Sox must have known that the former Cy Young Award winner did not have his best stuff. The crazy pitch didn’t look so crazy, with almost no movement, as it came to the catcher’s glove. Betts had an eight-pitch at-bat, before bashing the fastball to deep center field. Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar would have had another highlight-reel catch… if the ball would have stayed in his glove. Betts ended up with a triple to start the onslaught.
Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox second baseman, grounded out to score Betts, doing what Boston could not do in both of the first two games of this series: manufacture a run, early. A few batters later, Mike Napoli, who has been struggling this season, hit a fat, 77-mph knuckleball, that looks as straight as an arrow, over the center field fence to score three more runs. The scoreboard read 4-0 Red Sox, and Dickey’s face read anger, fear, and suffering.
On the mound for the Red Sox was much-maligned starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, the ‘ace’ of the rotation. His issues with control and the ability to throw strikes did not seem too important, today. The Blue Jays could get a few hits and walks against him, but nothing major seemed to develop until the fourth inning. Blue Jays outfielder Chris Colabello continued his success against the Red Sox by singling to center field, which cashed in Edwin Encarnacion.
In the fifth inning, the Red Sox responded. Boston’s third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who seems to be unstoppable against the Blue Jays pitching, reached for a first-pitch knuckleball that dipped right where he wanted it. Sandoval pulled the ball over the fence in right center field, scoring Hanley Ramirez in the process. The game was now 6-1.
Josh Donaldson‘s double to score Devon Travis, in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Travis’ groundout to score Josh Thole, in the bottom of the seventh inning, was all that the Blue Jays could muster, after that. The comeback was not to be, as the Red Sox take the last game in the series, 6-3.
- Buchholz went 6.1 innings, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Dickey went 6.0 innings, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks, and no strikeouts.
- Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara gave Buchholz relief, in a combined 2.2 innings of scoreless baseball.
- The Red Sox only had 4 runners left on base, and went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position. The Blue Jays had 6 men left on base, and went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
- Betts was picked off at first base by Blue Jays relief pitcher Brett Cecil.
- Designated hitter David Ortiz, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and call-up Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-for-4 at the plate. It was more surprising that Ortiz did not have a better game, as he has well-documented success against Dickey.
He threw 102 pitches where 69 of them were strikes. He did give up more hits than innings pitched, with some walks sprinkled in there. However, Buchholz got the job done. Even if the Red Sox did not score a run in the first inning, Buchholz’s performance would have kept his team in the game. Whenever a starting pitcher can keep the runs to 3 or less for 6 innings, then he’s having a decent game. Of course we would love to have an ‘ace’ dominate another team and blank them, but let’s be realistic. The Red Sox pitchers are not going to force bagels on the scoreboard against other teams. They will have to win with performances like this game, which they did.
His splitter was filthy. Uehara did give up a walk, but not a hit, like Tazawa. Nobody could hit the splitter, which set up the fastball, beautifully. The Blue Jays couldn’t tell if the 87-mph fastball would suddenly dip or not, causing them to ground out or strike out. By having movement like that, and not the flat pitches that Dickey was throwing, Uehara earned his sixth save of the year, in relatively-comfortable fashion.
But, they scored six runs!
Is that what you’re thinking? Yes, they did, with 4 of them in an inning. After that, the hits were few and far between, with 3 Red Sox bats never getting a base hit in a combined 12 at-bats. They had 7 hits, with more than half of them at the start of the game. Sandoval was the only Red Sox batter to get 2 hits in the game, earning 2 RBIs. Nothing could top him to earn the game ball, but a more sustainable offense will be needed if they wish to win more games that do not have Dickey gift-wrapping pitches, straight and slow, for them to hit.
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