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Closing Time: Rogers Centre, Blue Jays doom Junichi Tazawa once again

08.27.14 at 9:48 pm ET
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Junichi Tazawa had yet another rough outing in Rogers Centre, Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

Junichi Tazawa had yet another rough outing in Rogers Centre, Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

Joe Kelly deserved a better fate. Junichi Tazawa’s fate? Well, that was all too familiar.

The Red Sox starter hurled his second straight solid start, Wednesday, but ended up with nothing to show for it. Kelly was pulled after just 86 pitches, leaving the Sox’s fate in hands of their bullpen. It didn’t work out for John Farrell or his starting pitcher.

The Sox fell victim to a four-run seventh inning by the Blue Jays, paving the way for a 5-2 loss to the hosts at Rogers Centre.

As has been the case so many times against the Jays, Tazawa took the brunt of Toronto’s offensive attack. This time the Red Sox reliever finished his inning being charged with two runs, having allowed a key, pinch-hit, three-run homer off the bat of former Sox third baseman Danny Valencia.

After the game, both Farrell and Tazawa suggested to reporters they had identified the issue against the Jays, believing the reliever might be tipping his pitches.

“They picked up something that we felt like we corrected two and a half months ago,” Farrell said. “Tonight was a matter of a ball that ran back to the inner third of the plate against Valencia rather than staying down and away from him.”

“I think that was a fact in the past,” Tazawa noted via a translator. “It was mentioned in the past when I had some meetings with my coaches but I think that I have already eradicated that.”

Kelly started the pivotal seventh inning, allowing a lead off double by Edwin Encarnacion. With the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, Farrell brought on lefty Tommy Layne to face left-handed hitter Dioner Navarro. But — after a dropped pop-up by Sox catcher David Ross — the Jays catcher kept things going with a single to left.

That paved the way for Tazawa, who entered the game with a 7.71 ERA in eight games at the home of the home of the Jays. The righty promptly surrendered the three-run blast to Valencia, who was pinch-hitting for Juan Francisco, giving the Blue Jays a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Tazawa allowed another run later in the frame when Kevin Pillar came home on a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop by Jose Reyes. Pillar initially reached on a double one batter after Valencia’s homer.

The Red Sox had claimed the lead with two runs in the sixth, coming on a David Ortiz RBI single and a run-scoring wild pitch by Jays starter Marcus Stroman.

Kelly finished his six-plus-inning outing allowing just two runs on three hits, striking out four and walking two. The reason for his early departure, according to Farrell, were precautionary measures after the shoulder soreness the pitcher felt in his previous start.

“After he came out of the last game, we had every intention to hold his pitch count down in the 85 range. He pitched exceptional tonight,” the manager said. “He was very good. He and David Ross worked well together. But we felt like in light of five days ago, we were going to hold him shorter than normal, and knowing we were going to have to match up through the bottom of the order, it didn’t work out the way it looked like we could match up.”

“It’s a manager’s decision. I have no right to say anything,” Kelly told reporters. “I respect everything every manager I’ve ever played for has for the game. I should have never let that guy on. It was one of the more missed fastball command pitches I had all night, especially a fastball down and away, and I threw it up and right down the middle and he put a barrel on it, kind of, and got a double out of it. Credit to him. He’s a really good hitter.”

Recently-recalled Edwin Escobar made his major league debut, pitching a perfect eighth inning for the Red Sox.

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