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Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0: Figuring out Pablo Sandoval hasn’t been easy

04.19.17 at 9:53 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoal (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoal (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — This we know: Pablo Sandoval has come a long way since his belt exploded in this same building just more than one year ago.

After the embarrassment of that swing, Sandoval went on to undergo surgery on his right shoulder before losing some pounds and regaining his starting job at third base.

And Wednesday, Sandoval got what appeared to be another vote of confidence when Red Sox manager John Farrell gave him the start against left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano. It was an assignment that, even without a logical right-handed hitting complement available, seemed noteworthy considering before the previous night the switch-hitter didn’t have a hit in 10 at-bats against lefties.

But what the Red Sox’ 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays did was leave us once again scratching our heads as to what we should make of Sandoval. (For a complete recap, click here.)

What he did this time around was open the door to the Blue Jays’ three-run second inning with a throwing error on a routine grounder off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki leading off the home half of the frame. It was his third error of the season (tied for the most for any third baseman in the majors), and followed a night in which he was unable to range to make a few key plays down the line early in Brian Johnson’s outing.

“I did too much with the ball,” said Sandoval of the error. “It came out. I should have made that play. I tried to do too much on that play, and I made a bad throw.”

“I think there’s been at times, better range, there’s been times where there’s been plays that quite frankly should be made,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Tonight was an example of that.”

And then, in his first at-bat against Liriano, Sandoval looked like the hitter who went 2-for-41 as a righty against southpaws two years earlier, striking out looking.

Even with the optimism around how the ball was coming off his bat — which was highlighted by the Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato in pointing out Sandoval had the 15th-highest exit velocity in the big leagues coming into the series — the fact was that Sandoval still sat at .191 after that first at-bat.

Yet with this version of Sandoval, there is always something that doesn’t quite allow you to define him.

You look at the batting average, but then get distracted by the team-leading three homers and 10 RBI. And, in this case, there was that first AB, which was followed by a sharp single (hitting right-handed) and another base-hit to leadoff the eighth.

It’s hard to say that Sandoval was the reason the Red Sox lost Wednesday. Gold Glove infielder Mitch Moreland made his first error of the season immediately after the third baseman’s miscue. And starting pitcher Rick Porcello proceeded to three singles in the third for the three-run deficit.

And, on a night when the team with the most hits in the majors only managed six, Sandoval was the only Red Sox’ player to claim more than one.

But there was that one error. And it’s still hard to be convinced Sandoval shouldn’t be platooned once Josh Rutledge returns. Oh, and Travis Shaw is carrying an .890 OPS with the Brewers after hitting his fourth home run of the season, Wednesday.

It’s early and the judgment is still out, which is fine. Just don’t expect any clarity to come out of this night.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Porcello rebounded from a rough third inning to give the Red Sox seven innings, finishing his 110-pitch outing by allowing just the three runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked one. Eduardo Rodriguez got some work in after his return from paternity leave, pitching a flawless eighth inning, striking out a pair.

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