Closing Time: Edwin Encarnacion helps Blue Jays get last laugh on Red Sox
|04.30.13 at 10:22 pm ET|
TORONTO — Just when it looked like the Red Sox were going to will themselves to another win, Edwin Encarnacion got another at-bat.
Encarnacion gave the Blue Jays the lead for good with a two-run, seventh-inning homer off Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa, propelling Toronto to an 9-7 win over the Red Sox Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. It was Encarnacion’s second homer of the game.
The loss snaps a five-game Red Sox win streak, while also handing starter Jon Lester his first loss of the season. Lester, who drops to 4-1, allowed six runs on six hits over six innings, striking out five and walking two. The lefty’s ERA went from 2.27 to 3.11.
“Edwin is a very good hitter,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.“Obviously he’s been very productive here the last couple of years. He gets a cutter that doesn’t get to the spot off Lester for the first two-run homer, and then a 2-1 fastball that leaked back towards the middle of the plate after we score the three runs in that seventh inning. I thought we did a great job of fighting back into this. We staked them to a 4-0 lead. We fight back, take the lead with a four-run seventh and then give it right back. But they’ve got a quick-strike offense, and they swung the bat very well tonight.”
Earlier in the seventh, it appeared as though the Red Sox were going to be able to keep their win streak going when David Ortiz ripped a bases-loaded double into the right-center field gap, scoring three and giving the visitors a one-run lead. With the hit off of Blue Jays’ reliever Steve Delebar, Ortiz is now 15-for-25 against right-handed pitching this season.
“It was a good game, everybody did what they were supposed to,” Ortiz said. “They ended up scoring a couple of runs against us at the end of the game. it was a good game. just come back tomorrow and have the same attitude.”
But after retiring his first two batters, Tazawa ran into trouble. The reliever first issued a free pass to Jose Bautista after going to a full-count. He then went to 2-and-1 on Encarnacion before the Jays’ first baseman deposited the pitcher’s 94 mph fastball over the center field fence.
The Jays added an insurance run against newly-activated Joel Hanrahan in the eighth when Colby Rasmus singled in J.P. Arencibia, who had led off the inning with a single of his own.
“It felt good. I felt like I made some decent pitches that got hit,” Hanrahan said. “Any time you get that leadoff guy on, it makes it a little harder. Overall, my health felt good. It’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately gave up that run right there. Want to keep it to one run. I felt good – obviously it could’ve been better. I’m not going to be down about this outing. For me, it’s a step in the direction.”
Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox in their eighth loss of the season:
WHAT WENT WRONG
With the count 3-and-1 on Encarnacion and the bases-loaded with nobody out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia attempted to pick off Jose Bautista at first. But the throw went well wide of first baseman Mike Napoli, resulting in a pair of runs scoring, giving the Jays a 3-0 lead in the third. The Jays had initially jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Bautista’s RBI double in the first. The throw went awry in part because Saltalamacchia’s throwing hand glanced home plate umpire’s Clint Fagan’s mask.
“It looked like he got tied up with Clint behind the plate,” Farrell said. “He goes to cock his arm, had his hand hits the mask. After conferring with the umpire, he felt like it was after the ball was released. Physically, I don’t know how that could have happened after he released the ball. But in that case, that should have been a dead ball in the situation that it was, but they kept it as it was.”
With two outs and Jacoby Ellsbury representing the potential game-tying run at second, Brandon Morrow caught the outfielder leaning, picking him off to end the inning and the threat.
“Not a real good heads-up play given the game situation, the fact that it looked like Morrow was starting to fatigue a little bit and with Napoli and Ortiz coming behind him,” Farrell said. “Just trying to be aggressive, and it didn’t work out this time.”
After the Red Sox cut their deficit to one run with a score in the fifth, the Blue Jays responded with two more of their own with Encarnacion’s two-run blast, coming on a 3-and-1 offering from Lester. The blast reached Roger Centre’s 500 Level, only the 14th time it has been done.
Napoli struck out four times, the second time he has managed the feat. (The only other occasion came June 11, 2010.)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ortiz and Mike Carp helped bring the Red Sox back with two runs with a pair of solo home runs in the fourth inning. Ortiz’ blast, clearing the center field wall, was his third of the season, while improving his average against right-handers to .636 (14-for-22). Carp, meanwhile, had seen eight of his 11 hits go for extra-bases with the homer.
“In 2011 I felt like I got a hit every day between Triple-A and the big leagues. It was a good run. But not like this,” Carp said. “Not when playing time is sporadic, where you’re getting two at-bats or pinch-hitting. It’s definitely something to hold on and try to keep going.”
Stephen Drew finished off an all-round well-executed scoring play for the Sox in the fifth. Dustin Pedroia ripped Brandon Morrow’s 0-2 pitch back up the middle, sending Drew home. The Sox’ shortstop narrowly beat the throw from center fielder Colby Rasmus thanks to a slide that allowed his right hand to just catch the plate. It brought the Red Sox to within a run at the time.
Pedroia momentarily saved a run in the third when he made a nifty back-hand of a Melky Cabrera one-hopper with the infield drawn in. The second baseman was able to bounce up, look Bautista back at third and get the out at first. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, on the next at-bat Arencibia rifled a double down the left field line to make it 4-0 Toronto.
Jonny Gomes made Red Sox manager John Farrell’s move to pinch-hit the right-handed hitter for Carp – who had already homered – look good in the sixth inning. It was the first pinch-hit home run for the Red Sox since Will Middlebrooks’ managed one Aug. 7, 2011 against Ryan Dempster. It also snapped Aaron Loup’s stretch of 44 straight appearances without giving up a home run, the longest such streak by any Blue Jays to start a career.
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