Red Sox Smack Dickey Around Fenway, 5-3

Apr 15, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez runs to second after hitting a double during the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez runs to second after hitting a double during the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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Boston Red Sox returning catcher Christian Vazquez led the charge, as they defeated R.A. Dickey & the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of a four-game series.

In front of over 31 000 fans in Fenway Park, Boston finally saw the return of their former starting catcher, as he seemed like he was better than ever. Between his incredible defense and his newly-found bat, Vazquez was easily the most valuable player on both teams for the night.

His performance came a week after the Red Sox had went into Toronto at the Rogers Centre and took two of three games from the 2015 American League East champions. In fact, one of those games was the same pitching matchup as it was last night, with Rick Porcello against Dickey. This game, however, did not have the same start as the first one.

Last week, Porcello was the one who suffered the early punishment by giving up two home runs to Blue Jays star Jose Bautista. In this game, Dickey’s knuckleball could barely move out of the strikezone, to the benefit of the Red Sox hitters.

In the bottom of the first inning, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz showed why he is considered the most dominant opposing hitter against the Blue Jays by drilling a Dickey pitch all the way to the center field wall. Everyone, including Ortiz, was amazed that it wasn’t a home run, but the air was so cold last night that the ball had no lift. Likely what Dickey was thinking every time he threw a knuckleball and it looked more like a slow-moving beach ball. Ortiz scored Xander Bogaerts to take the early lead.

Then, a miracle happened. After fouling a pitch off of his foot, Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez remained in the game. The man, so accident prone that he never met an injury that he couldn’t sustain, not only stuck through his at-bat but also ran out a passed ball on the third strike and was safe. Yes, you read that right: he ran out a passed ball while still feeling the effects of the painful foul tip. What was even more shocking was the fact that Ramirez refused to come out of the game after the trainer examined him.

Who is this man and what have you done with Hanley?

It was a good thing that he did run out that pitch, because there were two outs and it would have ended the inning. Instead, Travis Shaw… excuse me, I mean ‘Kung Fu’ Shaw doubled to center field to score both Ortiz and Hanley to make it a 3-0 lead. Shaw got caught in a rundown trying to make it to third, but the damage had been done to Dickey and the Blue Jays. Porcello had a lead to work with.

And, he would need it. In the top of the second inning, leadoff batter Edwin Encarnacion drilled a two-seam fastball moving at 89 mph over the Green Monster in left field for a solo-shot. It was like Porcello was daring Edwin to hit it, because he threw him six straight fastballs, many of which were left fat over the plate or inside his wheelhouse.

Then, along came Vazquez. He took his bat, in the bottom of the second inning, and announced his return with a double screaming to left field. Mookie Betts helped his teammate out by sending him the rest of the way home with a single to left field, making it a 4-1 lead.

That was all for Dickey. He was pounded around Fenway Park, allowing four runs, two unearned, on six hits in only 4.2 innings of work. It seemed like there were even more hits because even his outs were hit hard to the Blue Jays defense. Between a sharp ball that gave Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson throw the ball away and the passed ball by Josh Thole, Toronto seemed out of sorts on this night, to the detriment of their starting pitcher.

The hits just kept on coming for Vazquez, as in the bottom of the sixth inning when he smashed a single on the first pitch from Pat Venditte. This time, it was Dustin Pedroia that sent Vazquez home on a single off of yet another Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini, making it a 5-1 lead.

Much like last week, that didn’t stop Porcello from making it interesting. After walking Bautista, Porcello offered yet another fastball to Encarnacion, the pitch looking as flat as Saskatchewan, which Edwin belted over the Monster to cut the lead to 5-3.

That was the end of the scoring. Between Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel, the Blue Jays didn’t have a chance. They mowed the opposing batters down with relative ease, earning the team their fifth win of the season, one more victory than their opponents this year.

Game Notes:

  • Vazquez picked off Troy Tulowitzki who was leaning too far away from first base after a Blue Jays strikeout. The pickoff play ended the inning, destroying any doubt that Vazquez’s arm or defensive skills are back to full-force.
  • The Red Sox were 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine men on base. The Blue Jays only had three hits in total, going 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position and leaving only three on base.
  • After that first major shot, Ortiz was walked twice and kept from doing too much damage.
  • Bogaerts continued his hot play against Dickey, earning another hit to go 11-for-33 against the knuckle-chucker.

Next: Red Sox Option Blake Swihart To Pawtucket

Grades:

B-. . Game Ball. <strong>Rick Porcello</strong>. STARTING PITCHING

Yes, the Blue Jays only had three hits on the night. Yes, Porcello earned his second win of the season, allowing only two hits. He also allowed three earned runs on two homers to the same batter on the same pitch for the second week in a row. His eight strikeouts were the result of bad swings from the lefty bats of the Blue Jays. Porcello was often missing to the right of the plate, but that worked out in his favor when the lefties kept swinging at outside pitches. It was when the Blue Jays swung from the right side of the plate that it became a problem, especially the two terrible pitches to Edwin. If a different team, one loaded with righty bats on a collective hot streak, was in Fenway Park tonight, the result might have been different. However, he did keep the Red Sox in the game and deserved the victory, even if it may have been lucky for the second week in a row.

A+. . Game Ball. <strong>The Bullpen</strong>. RELIEF PITCHING

What is there to say? Tazawa earned his fourth hold, Uehara earned his fourth hold, and Kimbrel earned his third save of the season. Once the ball is placed in the bullpen’s hands, as of late, that’s all she wrote for the other team’s chances. The one blemish was a Kimbrel walk in the ninth inning. That’s it. If these three men can do that every night, the Red Sox will never need to worry about the bullpen ever again.

OFFENSE &AMP; DEFENSE . A+. . Game Ball. <strong>Christian Vazquez</strong>

The Red Sox earned five runs on nine hits, but that was not the main story. This was the night of Vazquez. Between doubleplays, pickoff throws, blocking terribly low pitches from Porcello, a double, a single, and two runs scored, Vazquez seemed to do it all tonight. His play easily justified manager

John Farrell

‘s move to call him up from the minors and be the starting catcher.