Bullpen meltdown as Boston Red Sox lose to Jays, 4-3

Apr 18, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /

Both Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel combined along with some sloppy play to give the Jays a four-run eighth and back up an excellent effort by Toronto’s J.A. Happ.

The Boston Red Sox winning bullpen formula crashed and burned at Fenway Park as an outstanding Clay Buchholz effort was wasted in a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox made a late ninth inning move that saw David Ortiz at the plate with the potential winning run only to take a called third strike.

The first three innings for Buchholz went reasonably well despite a pair of hits and two walks. The redeeming feature a nice pair of double plays to prevent any damage. The top of the fourth also had another DP as the Jays were clearly off stride with the Buchholz mixture of pitches. Great inventions are the ATM, tabs on cans and a quality curve ball and Buchholz has one of the best “Uncle Charlie’s” in the business.

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The Red Sox managed a run in the second on a pair of doubles off Jays starter – left-hander J.A. Happ. With one out Hanley Ramirez – playing DH for a resting Ortiz – hit a ground rule double to right field. A slumping Chris Young popped out to former All-World shortstop Troy Tulowitzki leaving it up to recent call-up Josh Rutledge. Rutledge – playing third base as Travis Shaw was assigned first – hit a rope to center for a double and an RBI. Red Sox took a 1-0 lead.

The Blue Jays fifth had two quick outs and a Kevin Pillar single. A pass ball by defensive wiz Christian Vazquez moved Pillar to second and up stepped left-hand hitting Ryan Goins. Buchholz showed Goins a series of pitches from curve to change before freezing Goins with a heater for Buchholz’ first strikeout of the day. A beautiful pitch sequence. Red Sox still up 1-0.

In the top of the sixth inning, Michael Saunders led off with a single to center and up stepped reigning MVP Josh Donaldson who had walked twice. Ten feet to the left of the left field foul pole was all the difference and it just became a long strike. Donaldson then hit a broken bat semi-liner to Young for an out. Jose Bautista followed by hitting into his third DP of the day.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, the day was finished for Buchholz after Canadian Russell Martin singled. The Red Sox then went to their first team out of the bullpen and Junichi Tazawa completed the inning by inducing a ground out by Goins.

The top of the eighth saw both Uehara and the Red Sox defense collapse. The misery started with a single by Pillar and a Rutledge throwing error to advance Pillar to second. A walk to Justin Smoak was followed by the second passed ball of the day for Vazquez to put Jays at second and third with no outs. A Saunders ground out tied up the score at 1-1. Koji then nicked Donaldson with a pitch to set the stage for Bautista working on a three DP day. Not this time as Koji loaded the bases with a walk. That was it for manager John Farrell and in came Kimbrel with only one thought in mind – strikeout.

Edwin Encarnacion was quickly dispatched via the K on three pitches setting the stage for Tulo. No heroics for Kimbrel as Tulo drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch for the go-ahead run. Digging for a negative in the Kimbrel statistical ledger is a career 3.4 BB/9 and Martin then worked the count to 3-2 before shooting a two-run shot to right on the ninth pitch of the at-bat. The Jays now had a four-run inning that ended with Goins striking out.

Shaw continued some late inning hitting with a two-out run scoring double in the ninth to plate Dustin Pedroia who had singled. Ramirez followed with an RBI single and Boston was making a move. Farrell must have read the blowback from not using Brock Holt in the ninth yesterday to pinch hit and brought in Ortiz to try and stir some more damage against the Jays Drew Storen. Not today for Papi as he took a called third strike to end it.

Games Notes
* The Red Sox and Jays split the series at 2-2.
* The Patriots Day 11 AM start made sense when the games times were shorter and the marathon times longer.
* Sam Travis is leading Pawtucket in home runs (2) and RBI (8).
* Noe Ramirez may have the short roster straw when Carson Smith is ready.
* The Red Sox record on Patriot’s Day is 69-51 entering today’s game.
* Buchholz is the seventh pitcher in club history to reach ten seasons with the team.
* Marco Hernandez became the first Red Sox player to have a hit, run, stolen base and walk in his MLB debut.
* The Blue Jays hit into five double plays.

Game Ball. Clay Buchholz. STARTING PITCHING . A-.

The good Buchholz was present in the game today with all pitches working well and located with precision. The free-swinging Jays were clearly mesmerized. Buchholz final tally was 6.2 innings, no runs, six hits and two walks and strikeouts. The pitch count was an economical 97.

No one. RELIEF PITCHING . F. . Game Ball

Uehara had not allowed a run in seven games but lasted only 0.1 innings giving up a hit, a pair of walks and a hit batter. Kimbrel was dreadful and Red Sox fans better get used to fits of wildness as demonstrated today. Kimbrel could not put away Martin on an extensive at bat after walking in the lead run prior to that. Ramirez walked two in his mop up duties and went 3-2 on his last batter.

OFFENSE . D-. . Game Ball. Travis Shaw

The offensive effort was again laggard and put some credit to Happ. The Sox ninth inning “rally” fell short with Ortiz taking a called third strike. Shaw – again – had a big late inning hit.