Closing Time: Brandon Morrow’s wildness, A.J. Pierzynski’s power leads Red Sox past Blue Jays
|04.26.14 at 4:32 pm ET|
TORONTO — The Red Sox‘ offensive efficiency was off the charts Saturday afternoon, and they have their second straight win because of it.
In the middle of if all was A.J. Pierzynski, who continued his hot hitting of late by launching a grand slam to give the Red Sox a 5-3 lead in the third inning. The catcher’s ninth career home run with the bases loaded comes one game after he notched thre hits.
The homer — Pierzynski’s first grand slam since 2009 — was Red Sox’ first hit of the game and came off of Toronto reliever Chad Jenkins, who allowed the homer on just his second pitch of the game. The relief pitcher had come on for Toronto starter Brandon Morrow, who didn’t make it past 2 2/3 innings despite not allowing a hit. He did, however, issue eight walks.
Earning the win was Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz, who settled down nicely after allowing the Blue Jays a three-run first inning. Buchholz finished his day by giving up just the three runs on six hits, walking three and striking out three over seven innings. The righty threw 105 pitches.
One of the biggest threats the Blue Jays mounted following the Sox’ six-run third came in the eighth. But Red Sox closer Koji Uehara came on to induce a Melky Cabrera pop-up to shortstop with the bases loaded to end the issue.
Uehara did allow his first home run of the season, giving up a solo blast to Jose Bautista in the ninth. He finally did escape the ninth by getting Edwin Encarnacion to line out to center with runners on first and second.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– The Red Sox won a replay in the second inning when the call ruling that Jose Reyes had beaten out a routine grounder to shortstop was overturned. The video revealed Jonathan Herrera’s throw just narrowly hit Mike Carp’s glove before Reyes touched the bag. It was John Farrell‘s first successful challenge in four tries this season.
– Pierzynski drew a walk in the second inning, just his second of the season. The Blue Jays’ pitching staff did come into Saturday with the second-most walks in the majors, with Brandon Morrow adding to that total significantly with his eight walks.
– It was Morrow’s final pitch, a ball to Grady Sizemore, that sealed his fate. The offering led to the pitcher’s eighth free pass, forcing home Shane Victorino with the Red Sox’ first run. The Jays’ starter finished throwing 65 pitches and just 26 strikes.
– Middlebrooks not only had another successful offensive day in Rogers Centre (having come into the game hitting .340 with a 1.106 OPS in Toronto), but made a fantastic diving stab of a Brett Lawrie grounder leading off the home half of the sixth inning.
– Sizemore, who came into the game just two for his previous 31 at-bats, responded with a solid game, walking twice while ripping an RBI double in the fifth inning.
– Chris Capuano ruined Jonathan Diaz’ big day. The former Red Sox received his World Series ring before the game (see below), but struck out against the lefty when representing the go-ahead run in a pinch-hitting role in the eighth.
— Blue Jays-Official (@BlueJays) April 26, 2014
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Dustin Pedroia was thrown out trying to steal. The second baseman, who came into the season having been successful on 120 of his 152 attempts, is now just 1-for-3 for ’14.
– Buchholz struggled out of the gate, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk. The starter had allowed just one run in the first inning during his previous four starts.
– Juan Francisco hit his second solo homer in as many games, this time launching a Junichi Tazawa 0-2 offering of the center field to cut the Red Sox’ lead to three runs in the eighth inning.
– Edwin Encarnacion took advantage of a shift with runners on first and third and one out, placing a grounder through the hole to the right side, scoring one and putting runners back on first and third. The eighth-inning hit — which brought the Jays within two runs — would send Tazawa to the showers after the reliever retired just one batter.
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