Red Sox take 2 from Blue Jays, AL EAST lead expands to 4 games

Xander Bogaerts

With a 2.5 AL EAST lead heading into this week’s series, the Red Sox won 2 games over the Toronto Blue Jays. In Baltimore, the Yankees lost 1 game to the Orioles (one postponed). The Sox are now ahead of the Yanks by 4 games heading into the weekend.

GAME 1

Rick Porcello continued to do the one things that has been his Achilles’ heel all season. That is allowing home runs. He allowed three long balls to Toronto, and he had now allowed a career high 35 Home Runs this season. He previous career high was 25 HR, back in 2015, his first season in Boston.

The Blue Jays got it started early. In the top of the 1st, Kendry Morales came to the plate with 2 on and 2 outs. Porcello started him off with a curveball that missed high. Right after that pitch, NESN play-by-play broadcaster Dave O’Brien said Porcello may come back to the curveball, so he can establish it over the plate. The very next pitch, Ricky did just that. But, he still left it up, and Morales launched it over the wall in right to give the Jays a 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Red Sox were threatening with 2 outs and the bases loaded. Eduardo Nunez came to the plate and did something rare in Boston. He delivered with a 2-RBI single to cut the Toronto lead to 3-2.

ANOTHER ONE

With a little more momentum, the Sox were hoping Porcello could keep the deficit at just one. Jose Bautista had other plans. In the 3rd, Jose sent a solo shot the center field for the Blue Jays second home run of the night, extending their lead to 4-2.

BLUE JAYS DO IT AGAIN

Toronto starter J.A. Happ and Porcello kept both offense at bay for the next couple of innings. In the 6th, the Blue Jays struck again. After a 1-out Ryan Goins single, Darwin Barney doubled to left center scoring Goins, and giving the Jays their 5th run. Instead of buckling down, Porcello got rattled, and the next batter Raffy Lopez jacked a 2-run bomb to right center, giving Toronto a comfortable 7-2 lead. Brandon Workman came in to  relieve Porcello immediately.

AND ONE MORE FOR GOOD MEASURE

The Red Sox tacked on two runs. One in the 6th courtesy of a Nunez single, and one in the 7th from a Mitch Moreland fielder’s choice. The lead was cut to 7-4 heading to the 9th. With Matt Barnes on the mound for the Sox, Justin Smoak hit Toronto’s 4th long ball of the night, a solo shot to center. The Jays would add two more from back to back doubles by Bautista and Morales, followed by a Kevin Pillar single. The scoring ended there at 10-4, putting the Red Sox away.

TOUGH ONE FOR RICKY

After a stellar August where he went 5-1 with a 4.04 ERA, Porcello had a rough start to September. He finished the night going 5.1 innings, allowing 10 hits and 7 runs. His troubles this season have been hampered by the Home Run, and that could not be fixed Monday night. He endured his 16th loss of the season, which is another career high for him. The one positive that I have taken from Rick Porcello’s season is that he has been healthy. But how great is it that he is able to start every five days if he can’t produce? Maybe a skipped start could benefit him. With David Price’s return still in question, Porcello could be starting in the postseason.

GAME 2

The Boston Marathon came to the city for the second time in 2017. The Red Sox outlasted the Blue Jays in a 19 inning, 6 hour game 3-2. The game saw 7 pinch hitters and 19 different pitchers before Hanley Ramirez ended it with a bloop single scoring Mookie Betts.

Blue Jays strike first

The Red Sox got in a hole early again. In the top of the 2nd with Kevin Pillar on 3rd and 1 out. Teoscar Hernandez hit a fly ball deep enough to center to score Pillar. This was was too deep to for Bradley to gun it home, but he got another shot later in the game.

With their starter Marco Estrada keeping Boston’s bats quiet, Kendry Morales struck again. Leading off the 6th, Morales took Eduardo Rodriguez deep on an 0-2 pitch that was left over the plate. It was Morales’ second home run of the series and it put Toronto up 2-0.

Pitcher’s Duel

Both starters Tuesday night had their best stuff. Estrada was able to avoid big mistakes though, unlike E-Rod. Even so, Rodriguez kept his team in the game. He finished the night going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, and striking out 8. Estrada faced one challenge in the game, which was a bases loaded 2-out situation in the second. He got JBJ to ground out to second, escaping the jam. Estrada went 7 shutout innings allowing just three hits, and striking out 3.

Where is the offense?

Heading into the bottom of the ninth down 2-0, Red Sox reporters were ready to write articles about the team’s offensive struggles. All things considered, the pitchers are doing all they can to win the games, however the offense can’t score.

Finally, the offense struck. Toronto closer Roberto Osuna started off the 9th by walking Andrew Benintendi. This ultimately prompted NESN color commentator Lenny DiNardo to mention that nothing good comes from a leadoff walk in the 9th. For example, in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS (DiNardo was on that team) Mariano Rivera walked Kevin Millar to lead off the 9th, we all know what happened after that.

Next, Mookie Betts doubled to left, putting Benintendi on third. Hanley Ramirez came to the plate with no outs. Expecting a strikeout, Hanley grounded out to third. With the infield in, I expected Josh Donaldson to throw out Benintendi at home, but ranging to his left, he got the sure out. 2-1. Mookie also made a great read on the play, advancing to third. The next batter Mitch Moreland ripped a ball to the second baseman Barney. Having to dive to his left, Barney was unable to get Mookie Betts at the plate, and again got the out. The Sox came alive and tied the game 2-2.

Oh, Extra Innings

Drama came fast, in the top of the 11th. Jose Bautista reached on a walk, and Pillar bunted him over. A Michael Saunders infield single and moved Bautista to third. With one out, power-hitting Justin Smoak came to the plate. He hit a fly ball to center, and Bautista deemed it deep enough to run on. Jackie Bradley threw an absolute dart to the plate, and Bautista was tagged out to keep the game tied.

DRAGGGGGGING

After the top of the 11th, only twice did a runner from either team reach second base until the 19th inning. With added arms in bullpens due to roster expansions, each team had enough arms to go the distance. The Red Sox used an MLB-record 12 pitchers in the game.

Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the 19th inning with a double. Hanley Ramirez came to the plate next for 8th at-bat. He fought off a bloop single to center, scoring Betts, and ending the game at 1:11 am.

Oh Really?

With the win last night, the Red Sox are now 13-2 in extra innings games this season. For a team that can go into their offensive lulls, they certainly know how to pull it out. As I have said before this season, this was a win that can drive momentum for this team as they try to pull away from the Yankees.

 

GAME 3

Doug Fister did his freaking thing again on a misty September night in Boston. He went 7 strong innings, propelling the Red Sox to a 6-1 victory and their second completed victory in a calendar day.

EARLY DEFICIT

The Sox got in a quick hole in the top of the 1st. Ezequiel Carrera led off the game with a single. Two batters later, Justin Smoak moved him to third with a double. After a Michael Saunders walk, Miguel Montero came up with the bases loaded and 2 outs. Fister walked Montero to score Carrera. Unfortunately for Toronto, this would be their only run of the night.

The Red Sox erased this deficit earlier than they did last night, in the same inning. Eduardo Nunez got it started with a single, a steal, and advanced to third on a Dustin Pedroia line out. Andrew Benintendi drove Nunez in with a ground out to second base to tie the game at 1 in the 1st inning.

A LEAD

After a Mitch Moreland walk to lead off the 4th, Xander Bogaerts came through with an RBI triple down the right field line, giving Boston a 2-1 lead. This was the Red Sox first lead DURING a game since Fister’s last start. LAST FRIDAY NIGHT.

Rafael Devers singled in the next at-bat to drive home Bogaerts. Later in the inning, with Sandy Leon on first, Jackie Bradley Jr. got a hold of a fastball over the right field wall, making it 5-1. It was good to see Bradley connect on one after spending some time on the DL. He was hitting well before his injury.

In the 6th, Devers led off with a single and Leon doubled. With 2nd and 3rd, JBJ reached on an error and Devers scored on the play. The Boston lead extended to 6-1, and Toronto seemed content with going home indoors to the Rogers Centre and staying in last place. Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes would come in for the last two innings and wrap-up the series for the Red Sox.

FISTER

Doug Fister joined the Red Sox in late June and has been David Price’s replacement in the rotation. Tonight Fister went 7 innings, giving up one run on four hits. He also struck out nine Toronto Blue Jays. In his last four starts, Fister is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA. Fister has gone at least seven innings in all four of those starts.

Fister’s recent run certainly has him in serious consideration as the number 3 starter in the playoff rotation. Inconsistencies by E-Rod and Porcello, followed by Price’s uncertainties with his elbow make this spot wide open come October.

UP NEXT

The Red Sox are now 4 games ahead of the Yankees. The Yankees now have another make-up game tomorrow. They have another one scheduled on September 25th against the Royals.

The Sox have a much needed off day tomorrow, as they have played 20 games in 20 days. They can just chill at home and watch the Patriots dominate the Chiefs on NFL opening night.

The Tampa Bay Rays come to Beantown for three games. The Rays, unlike the Blue Jays, still have something to play for. They sit 3 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.

Drew Pomeranz (14-5) will start the series opener against Rays starter Austin Pruitt (7-4). The Rays lost tonight vs. the Twins, who overtook the second AL Wild Card spot.

 

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