|Closing Time: Jackie Bradley’s bat awakens in time to lead Red Sox comeback||09.19.15 at 9:16 pm ET|
It wasn’t just the fact that the Red Sox managed to score five runs in the ninth inning on the way to a come-from-behind 7-6 win over the first-place Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. And the fact that it marked the first time in 74 occasions that Toronto lost a game when heading into the ninth inning with the lead.
It was how and where the Red Sox notched the win that should have made this one stand out.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Sox comeback was that a big chunk of it came courtesy the struggling Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley Jr. had entered his seventh inning at-bat in an 0-for-21 slump, having claimed just one hit in his last 32 at-bats. But the outfielder managed to jump-start his game with a game-tying double in the seventh.
And then, after the Blue Jays reclaimed the lead against reliever Noe Ramirez in the eighth inning, it was Bradley Jr. who tied the game again with a two-run blast off of Toronto closer Roberto Osuna.
“It showed signs of maturity that he can put that behind him despite the tough circumstances,” interim Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo told reporters. “I know it was a big day for him and he’s very excited.”
“That double helped a lot,” Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts told reporters regarding Bradley Jr., who has seen 24 of his last 33 hits go for extra bases. “It got that confidence back, and then he went back to the hitter he is.”
It wasn’t just Bradley Jr. who supplied a healthy dose of optimism for the Red Sox heading into their series finale Sunday.
One out after the Bradley Jr. homer, Dustin Pedroia drew a walk to force Osuna from the game and bring on Aaron Sanchez. After Bogaerts greeted Sanchez with a single, David Ortiz gave the visitors the lead for good with his go-ahead, RBI base-hit.
The Sox added two more runs to complete the five-run frame when Bogaerts scored on a wild pitch, and Rusney Castillo plated the Sox’ final score with a run-scoring single.
Robbie Ross Jr. ran into some trouble in trying to close things out, giving up a two-out walk to Josh Donaldson and two-run homer off the bat of Jose Bautista to allow the Jays to draw within a run. And when Matt Hague doubled, things got even more interesting.
But Ross Jr. would ultimately finish things off, getting Justin Smoak to end the threat and the game while cutting the Blue Jays lead over the Yankees to 3 1/2 games.
Considering the environment — another sell-out Rogeres Centre crowd — and what was at stake for the team they were going up against, the early evening was a memorable one for a Red Sox club searching for a 2016 identity.
“This is what it’s all about, playoff baseball and playoff atmosphere and I’m happy we won the game,” Lovullo told reporters.
Red Sox starter Wade Miley received a no-decision, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven while throwing 113 pitches.
Bogaerts also helped highlight the Red Sox offense, hitting the visitors’ other home run. He joined Bradley Jr., Travis Shaw and Brock Holt as the only Sox hitters to claim multiple-hit games.
|Red Sox slated to play exhibition games in Montreal||09.17.15 at 10:12 am ET|
The official announcement of the games will take place on a Friday conference call, with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, Jays general manager Alex Anthopolous and Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy participating on the call.
The games will be the final exhibition contests for the Red Sox, who are slated to open the 2016 regular season in Cleveland on April 4.
|Closing Time: Alexi Ogando implodes, Red Sox bats silenced in 5-1 loss to Blue Jays||09.08.15 at 10:43 pm ET|
With the Red Sox locked in a 1-1 game against the Blue Jays in the 10th on Tuesday night, reliever Alexi Ogando imploded, allowing four runs on three hits, a walk, a wild pitch, an balk, and a sacrifice fly. When it was over, so were the Red Sox en route to a 5-1 loss that dropped them back into sole possession of last place, a game behind the Orioles, who beat the Yankees.
Toronto MVP candidate Josh Donaldson appeared to give the Jays the lead in the 10th when he led off against Ogando with a blast off the top of the left field wall, but it was ruled live and upheld on replay, with Donaldson settling for a triple.
A Jose Bautista flyout to medium center wasn’t deep enough to score Donaldson, and after an intentional walk to Edwin Encarnacion, new Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki ripped a single to left to break the 1-1 tie.
Milford’s Chris Colabello padded the lead with an RBI single off the glove of diving Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Ogando balked in a run, and that was that.
“Tried to just navigate through their lineup the best that we could, give ourselves the best opportunity to get through that inning,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “Obviously one of the best players in the American League comes up with a leadoff triple. We’re just trying to preserve that run the best that you can. I thought we came up with a pretty good game plan and Tulowitzki beat us with a groundball through the left side of the diamond. I think we were in good position, we were in the right place. Just found a hole. You’ve got to give him some credit for executing.”
A low-scoring game in extras didn’t necessarily appear to be on the docket when this one started. The Red Sox and Jays have owned two of baseball’s hottest offenses since the start of August, and with Toronto dominating left-handed pitching, it looked like it could be a long night for starter Henry Owens, who was coming off the worst outing of his young career, a seven-run stinker against the Yankees in just 1 2/3 innings.
Owens delivered the kind of start on Tuesday that plagued him early in the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing virtually nothing in the hits department (3 in 5 1/3 innings), but also walking four, hitting two batters, throwing a pair of wild pitches, and needing 95 pitches just to get through the first out of the sixth.
“I’m trying to go deeper, obviously, but my pitch count got up and I just tried to have a couple of quick innings, and fortunately went out to the sixth, gave up a hit and walk and [Jean] Machi came in there and closed the door,” Owens said.
On the plus side, Owens limited the damage against one of baseball’s top lineups. On the down side, he was erratic and also a bit lucky, particularly on a mammoth foul home run by Donaldson that was upheld on review.
On the other side, the Red Sox couldn’t do much with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who limited them to four hits and a run in six innings, striking out four. Dickey’s only mistake was a flat knuckler to Travis Shaw, which the rookie deposited into the visiting bullpen to tie the game at 1-1 in the second inning.
The Jays had already struck for a run in the first in a frame that could’ve gone spun completely out of control before Owens reeled it back in. He hit leadoff man Ben Revere and promptly wild-pitched him to second before inducing Donaldson to line out sharply to left. Bautista walked and the Jays pulled off a double steal with the dangerous Encarnacion at the plate. But groundouts by Encarnacion and Tulowitzki limited the damage to the lone run.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. J.A. Happ||08.25.14 at 3:40 pm ET|
After posting back-to-back solid outings on Aug. 9 and 15, Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) took a step back in his last start Wednesday against the Angels. The right-hander started off strong, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced, but fell apart in the fifth, giving up five runs en route to 8-3 Red Sox loss.
“The difference between everything going on this year and last year is a lot of balls finding holes or are home runs or doubles, they were hit at somebody last year and I got a lot of double plays that way,” Buchholz said after the game. “Sometimes that’s the way it goes. You don’t ever want it to be a full season but that’s the way it is sometimes, and I’ve got to keep grinding.”
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Buchholz this season, as the right-hander has given up at least six earned runs in three of his last five starts.
Buchholz took the loss in his last outing against the Blue Jays on July 23, giving up four earned runs in six innings. In 22 career appearances (21 starts) against Toronto, Buchholz is 10-8 with 3.22 ERA.
Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA) also struggled in his last start Tuesday against the Brewers, giving up six hits and four runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work.
“I don’t know,” Happ said after the game. “We’ve got to … I don’t know, just find a way. It starts with pitching. It started with me tonight. We got outplayed and it started with me, I guess. In a hole behind early and that’s tough against anybody, let alone a first-place team. Everybody’s gotta do their part and I came up short tonight.”
|Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview||at 1:11 pm ET|
What began with a promising 2-1 start on an 11-game homestand quickly was scuttled thanks to an eight-game losing streak that resulted in a massively disappointing 2-9 mark against the Astros, Angels and Mariners during their season-long stretch at Fenway.
Boston’s last three games were especially deflating, as the Red Sox blew 3-0 leads in consecutive games and left 15 runners on base Sunday en route to a three-game sweep by the Mariners — Seattle’s first sweep at Fenway since the franchise’s inception in 1977.
“That’s just the game. So many things you can’t control,” said third baseman Will Middlebrooks after Sunday’s game, adding: “What are you going to do?”
The remainder of the 2014 season will see the Red Sox mostly taking on their familiar foes in the AL East, as 25 of Boston’s final 32 games will be against division opponents, starting with a three-game set against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays have slumped as of late, posting a 3-7 record over their last 10 games — including a series loss against the Rays that culminated in a 2-1 extra-innings defeat Sunday.
The Red Sox will be looking for a different outcome from the last time they faced off against Toronto on July 28-30, as the Blue Jays outscored Boston 24-4 during a three-game sweep.
Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game series.
Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA)
Wednesday: Joe Kelly (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (7-5, 4.11 ERA)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
— Yoenis Cespedes was acquired by Boston at the July 31 trade deadline to drive in runs. So far, he’s been doing a great job of it. Since his first game with the Red Sox on Aug. 2, Cespedes has driven in 18 of Boston’s 79 runs — 23 percent of the team’s total scoring output. Despite his aggressive approach at the plate, the Cuban left fielder has more RBIs than strikeouts (16) in his 21 games in Boston.
|Closing Time: Downward spiral continues as Red Sox swept by Blue Jays||07.30.14 at 9:59 pm ET|
With the July 31 trade deadline less than 24 hours away, Red Sox manager John Farrell remarked prior to Wednesday night’s game against Blue Jays that he hoped the distractions revolving around multiple rumors would have a “minimal” impact on the performance of his club.
That didn’t appear to be the case once Wednesday’s game got underway, as a combination of free passes and sloppy errors by the Red Sox helped Toronto come away with a 6-1 victory, earning a three-game sweep at Fenway in the process.
This is the second time this season that the Blue Jays have earned a sweep at Fenway Park, as Toronto took three straight games from the Red Sox on May 20-22. Boston was outscored by a 22-4 margin during the just-completed series, which extended the team’s slide to eight losses in nine games.
Brandon Workman, starting in place of Jon Lester, labored through his outing, allowing four hits and five runs (two earned) over five innings of work, with a career-high four walks. Workman’s uncharacteristic command issues would prove to be costly — three of the four batters that reached base via a Workman walk ended up scoring.
The Red Sox defense also made things easy for the Blue Jays, as errors by both Workman and Xander Bogaerts in the fifth inning helped Toronto pile on three unearned runs en route to a commanding 5-0 lead.
While Workman was not able put the Red Sox in a position to come away with the win, Boston’s lineup didn’t fare much better, as Toronto starter Mark Buehrle held the Sox to just one run and six hits over 6 2/3 innings of work.
The lone Red Sox run came off the bat of catcher Christian Vazquez, who drove in Xander Bogaerts with a ground-rule double in the bottom of the fifth.
After scoring a season-high 14 runs July 21, the Red Sox have only managed to cross the plate 18 times over their last nine games.
|Closing Time: Rubby De La Rosa’s dominance at home ends as Red Sox fall to Blue Jays||07.29.14 at 10:13 pm ET|
In what has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde season for Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa, an unsightly 6.04 road ERA (four starts) has been balanced by a stellar track record in the friendly confines of Fenway Park.
Entering Tuesday’s game against Toronto, De La Rosa had compiled a 3-0 record with a 1.38 ERA in four starts at Fenway – the lowest home ERA of any AL pitcher with at least four home starts this season.
Unfortunately for De La Rosa and the slumping Red Sox, the young right-hander could not add to his impressive track record at home Tuesday night, as De La Rosa and the Sox fell to the Blue Jays, 4-2.
De La Rosa improved from his previous outing against Toronto Thursday (seven runs over four innings) but still labored on the mound, surrendering three earned runs on nine hits in six innings of work. After compiling a 2.64 ERA in his first seven starts this season, De La Rosa has posted an ERA of 8.10 in his last two outings.
At the plate, the Boston lineup could do little against Toronto starter Marcus Stroman. The 23-year-old – who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last outing against Boston last Thursday – held the Red Sox to just one run and five hits over seven innings.
After scoring a season-high 14 runs on July 21, the Red Sox have only scored 17 runs over their last eight games.
The Blue Jays managed to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth off of Junichi Tazawa, and while Xander Bogaerts hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Jays were able to hold the lead and seal the victory.
With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 48-59 and have lost seven of their last eight games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— One of De La Rosa’s strengths this season has been his ability to maneuver out of jams with little to no damage reflected on the scoreboard. Entering Tuesday’s game, opponents were hitting jut .158 (3-for-19) with two outs and RISP against De La Rosa this season.
De La Rosa could not continue that trend Tuesday, as the 25-year-old righty surrendered an RBI double to Toronto’s No. 9 hitter, Anthony Gose, in the fourth inning, scoring Colby Rasmus and Juan Francisco from second and third, respectively.
The Red Sox will look to bounce back from Monday’s disheartening 14-1 loss when they take on the Blue Jays in the second game of a three-game series Tuesday at Fenway Park. Rubby De La Rosa will get the nod for Boston, facing off against fellow youngster Marcus Stroman.
De La Rosa (3-3, 3.54 ERA) has seen his season marked by one deciding variable: location. It is not a matter of the 25-year-old pitcher finding his command with his pitches, but rather where he is playing.
De La Rosa has looked like two different pitchers when taking the hill at Fenway Park or away from it this season. At home, De La Rosa has pitched like an ace, compiling a 3-0 record with a 1.38 ERA. On the road, De La Rosa is 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA.
De La Rosa’s last start Thursday against the Blue Jays — at Rogers Centre — was his worst outing of the season, as the righty allowed nine hits and seven runs (six earned) over just four innings of work.
“Clearly, he feels comfortable on the mound at Fenway and is able to channel the emotion and adrenaline inside Fenway Park,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ve got to do something to try and even out the splits as they stand.”
In three career games (one start) against the Blue Jays, De La Rosa is 0-1 with a 11.57 ERA.
Stroman (6-2, 3.21 ERA) may be the youngest member of Toronto’s starting rotation, but he certainly hasn’t shown any rookie nerves on the mound this season. Stroman is 6-2 with a 2.21 ERA in 10 starts this year, leading his club in WHIP (1.10) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.93).
|Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview||07.28.14 at 3:09 pm ET|
The outlook of the 2014 season looks bleak for the Red Sox.
With just four days until the July 31 trade deadline and 10 1/2 games out of first place, it appears that Boston is ready to wave the white flag on the year and prepare to add assets for future campaigns.
“Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “And so that might mean doing very little, it might mean doing a bunch of stuff. It might be between that. I don’t know yet.”
While Boston’s chances of making the playoffs continue to dwindle by the day, the Red Sox still have an opportunity to make up some ground in the division when they host the Blue Jays for a three-game series at Fenway Park.
While the Red Sox trend downward, the Blue Jays have looked resurgent coming out of the All-Star Break. Entering the break, Toronto had dropped eight of its last 10 games and had fallen to four games out of first place in the AL East. Even with injuries to key contributors such as Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays have been able to battle back into contention for a playoff spot with a 7-3 record over their last 10 games.
“It is kind of a resilient group,” said manager John Gibbons said after Toronto’s 5-4 win over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. “We have some guys that didn’t start with us, they’re getting some opportunities and they’re doing good things for us.
“That’s important, guys are filling in and they have to do the job for you. We were struggling going into the All-Star break, so playing better coming out of it was very important to us.”
The Blue Jays got the best of the Red Sox in their last series on July 21-24 at Rogers Centre, taking three of four from Boston and further knocking the Red Sox down in the division standings. Boston has struggled against Toronto this season, posting a 3-7 record against its divisional opponent.
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.
Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-6, 5.50 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.04 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (3-3, 3.54 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.21 ERA)
|Tuesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Jake Peavy vs. J.A. Happ||07.22.14 at 10:58 am ET|
While Peavy (1-8, 4.59 ERA) has been at the forefront of trade rumors over the last few weeks, he hasn’t let the whispers rattle him on the mound, as the righty has posted a 2.84 ERA over his last three starts.
In his last start on July 12 against the Astros, Peavy allowed three earned runs over seven innings while striking out nine, but he got the loss in what was an eventual 3-2 Houston win.
The Sox just can’t seem to put any runs on the board whenever Peavy is on the hill. The Red Sox only averaged 1.5 runs per game in June during Peavy’s outings. Peavy is tired with Seattle’s Chris Young for last in the American League in run support at just 3.16 runs per start.
“It’s not even the run support, it’s just finding a way to win on that day,” Peavy said after his last outing. “I’ve pitched in tight games my whole career and found a way to put us in better situations to win those tight games.”
Peavy earned his only win of the season in his last start against the Blue Jays on April 25, allowing one earned run in seven innings of work. In seven career starts against the Blue Jays, Peavy is 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA.
Happ (7-5, 4.91 ERA) made his last appearance for Toronto out of the bullpen, as the southpaw allowed two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning on July 12 against the Rays.
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