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Red Sox clinch American League East title when Orioles rally to defeat Blue Jays 09.28.16 at 10:34 pm ET
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It turns out the Red Sox didn’t need to beat the Yankees after all.

The Red Sox clinched the American League East on Wednesday when the Orioles rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the ninth inning to beat the Blue Jays, 3-2, in Toronto.

It returns the Sox to the postseason as division champs for the first time since 2013, when they also went worst-to-first before winning the World Series.

The Orioles trailed 2-0 in the eighth in 2-1 in the ninth, but a pinch-hit two-run homer from Hyun Soo Kim off of Jays closer Roberto Osuna made the Orioles 3-2 winners. The game went final with the Red Sox still in the ninth inning against the Yankees.

Read More: Blue Jays, playoffs, Red Sox,
Closing Time: David Ortiz victimizes Joaquin Benoit again as Red Sox claim wild win over Blue Jays, open 2-game lead 09.11.16 at 4:56 pm ET
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David Ortiz points skyward after hitting a three-run homer in Toronto on Sunday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz points skyward after hitting a three-run homer in Toronto on Sunday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz owns two career home runs against Joaquin Benoit. Red Sox fans will never forget the first. We may look back at the second as the biggest of this season.

Three years after his grand slam off of Benoit saved the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, Ortiz once again victimized the reliever, this time blasting a three-run homer to erase an 8-7 deficit and propel the Red Sox to an 11-8 victory on Sunday that restored their two-game lead in the American League East.

The Red Sox finished a brutal nine-game road trip with a 6-3 record, including two of three in Toronto. When they left for Oakland last week, they trailed by two games in the division. Now they lead by two games. They begin a seven-game homestand against the Orioles and Yankees on Monday.

“The two things that come to mind, one, we never rolled over,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto. “We kept grinding, kept finding a way to come back. Two, this was about one guy picking up another. Clay [Buchholz] exits early, we go to the bullpen, the offense climbs right back into it. Every out by guys coming out of the bullpen was key, all the way down to Noe Ramirez’s one out to set it up to piece together the fifth inning. Just a dramatic home run again from David, against Benoit, that, you know, a few years ago, there was another memorable one. This might not have been the same stage, but where we are against that team, really no less important.”

Ortiz’s three-run bomb in the sixth capped a wild back-and-forth contest that was billed as a pitcher’s duel but instead devolved into an old-fashioned Sox-Jays slugfest. It also brought back pleasant memories of 2013, when Ortiz’s Game 2 grand slam off of Benoit kept the Red Sox from returning to Detroit in a 2-0 series hole.

“A little bit, yeah,” Ortiz told reporters when asked if this homer reminded him of that one. “And I thought I was getting a different menu, but he threw me a hittable — I mean, it wasn’t that bad. It was in the bottom of the strike zone, right where the pitcher wanted to make that pitch. I guess I put a good swing on it.”

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Read More: Blue Jays, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia
Closing Time: Red Sox offense goes silent in close loss to Blue Jays 09.10.16 at 4:09 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez pitches against the Blue Jays on Saturday. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Eduardo Rodriguez pitches against the Blue Jays on Saturday. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Now it’s just about winning the series.

Fresh off Friday’s 13-3 demolition of the Blue Jays, the Red Sox took a step back on Saturday afternoon, getting shut down by J.A. Happ and the Toronto bullpen in a 3-2 loss.

One day after recording 18 hits, the Red Sox were no-hit into the fifth and held scoreless until Dustin Pedroia’s homer leading off the sixth. They managed just four hits overall and were outlasted by a Blue Jays squad that had lost four in a row and six of seven, but now finds itself just a game out of first in the AL East.

The Blue Jays took control early against Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start. This time, he allowed his first hit a lot earlier, with leadoff man Devon Travis singling in the first.

The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead in the second when Russell Martin walked and B.J. Upton launched a two-run homer to left-center.

The Jays pushed their lead to 3-0 in the third when Travis led off with a double before being erased at third on replay review on a Josh Donaldson fielder’s choice. The Red Sox gave that out right back, however, when Edwin Encarnacion reached on an error by third baseman Aaron Hill and Jose Bautista singled to short.

The Red Sox clawed back. Pedroia got one run back with the homer, and the Red Sox added another in the seventh on a Jackie Bradley Jr. sacrifice fly. The Sox might’ve done even more damage, but Bautista made a nice leaping catch before slamming into the wall on Bradley’s sac fly with runners on the corners.

Closing Time note

Opponents fell to just 2-for-36 against reliever Matt Barnes with two outs after he ended the seventh by inducing Edwin Encarnacion to line out to right.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who started the day batting .455 out of the leadoff spot, gave the Red Sox their first run with a line drive solo homer to left in the sixth.

— After a slow start that included a two-run homer by B.J. Upton, Rodriguez ended up limiting the Jays to four hits and two earned runs in six innings, striking out five.

— With a walk, right fielder Mookie Betts extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 27.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Third baseman Aaron Hill was charged with an error on an Encarnacion grounder in the third, leading to Toronto’s unearned run.

— Rodriguez was drilled in the shin by a comebacker, but remained in the game.

— With Jason Grilli on the mound in the eighth and the top of the order due up, the Red Sox failed to score when Mookie Betts popped out with pinch runner Yoan Moncada on first.

— Speaking of Moncada, the rookie committed an unpardonable sin by losing track of the outs in the eighth and failing to run on Betts’ inning-ending flyout.

Read More: Blue Jays, Dustin Pedroia, eduardo rodriguez, Red Sox
Closing Time: Rick Porcello wins 20th, Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts homer as Red Sox pummel Blue Jays 09.09.16 at 10:33 pm ET
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Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello won his 20th game on Friday in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski-USA Today Sports)

Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello won his 20th game on Friday in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski-USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — The Red Sox visited Toronto on Friday intent on growing their lead in the American League East.

They did so in overwhelming fashion.

Right-hander Rick Porcello won his 20th game and Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts homered to pace an offensive explosion as the Red Sox destroyed the Blue Jays, 13-3, to open a two-game lead in the AL East.

“It’s definitely a huge honor,” said Porcello, whose first order of business was to call his parents. “It’s hard to win one game in the big leagues let alone 20. I’m very proud of that. At the same time it’s collective. We had to swing the bats and play defense. It’s a complete team effort. Sharing this with all 25 guys. Or 40 now that we’re in September.”

“Well, what Rick has done for a long stretch now, his game-plan that he prepares and he executes it,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That’s the thing, his execution has been outstanding because he’s pitching with average velocity but his location is tremendous. He knows when to elevate and he’s been able to use breaking balls in certain counts that have worked to his advantage. More than anything, he doesn’t add baserunners by the walk. One walk again here tonight. Like I said, he knows what he’s doing. He’s got complete conviction to each pitch he throws and it’s evident by the bottom-line results.”

Porcello, blessed with overwhelming run support all season, was staked to a 1-0 lead in the first, 2-0 in the second and 4-0 in the third. He cruised from there, improving to 20-3 and lowering his ERA to 3.21. He allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one.

The Red Sox entered the game with the best offense in the American League and they did nothing to dispute that notion.

They struck quickly in the first. Dustin Pedroia led off with a single and scored on Mookie Betts’ two-out double.

They added another run in the second on Pedroia’s RBI single and two more in the third on Travis Shaw’s sacrifice fly and an error by left fielder B.J. Upton.

Devon Travis got two of the runs back with a single in the third, but the Red Sox kept piling on. They scored one in the fourth on a Pedroia sacrifice fly and then exploded for sixth in the seventh to build an 11-2 lead.

Bogaerts and Ramirez both homered in the frame.

But Friday, was Porcello’s day.

“He’s probably the MVP of our team right now,” said Jackie Bradley Jr. of his starting pitcher. “He’s tremendous on the mound.”

Closing Time note

The last Red Sox pitcher to win 20 games was Josh Beckett in 2007.

“They do it differently,” said Farrell when asked to compare the two pitchers. “I think Rick is probably more of a four-pitch pitcher where Josh was primarily fastball-curveball and changeup. Might not have the power that Beckett did, but still, when you’re talking about sending a guy to the mound that’s going to go deep in ballgames, the similarity is the wins obviously. Still, they do it a little bit differently in their own way.”

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Porcello was once again on top of his game, easily out-dueling Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada, who was bounced in the third inning.

— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia remained red-hot. He recorded three more singles and drove in four runs.

— First baseman Hanley Ramirez has saved his best baseball for the end of the season. He blasted a three-run homer in the seventh to blow the game open.

— Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, mired in a lengthy slump, stroked two hits, including a solo homer to get things started during a six-run seventh.

— Five members of the starting lineup recorded multiple hits (Pedroia, Bogaerts, Betts, Ramirez, Leon, Jackie Bradley Jr., Ramirez).

— The Red Sox outfielders tried a little something new in their celebration after the win. “We’re mixing it up a little bit. It was the debut of the ski jump today,” said Bradley Jr.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Second baseman Deven Marrero made an error in the eighth, leading to an unearned run.

Read More: Blue Jays, Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez, Red Sox
Closing Time: Red Sox nearly no-hit, Eduardo Rodriguez (4 HRs) knocked around, rally falls short in loss to Blue Jays 06.05.16 at 4:21 pm ET
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It was a tough day for the David Ortiz and the Red Sox offense on Sunday. (Winslow Townson-USA Today Sports)

It was a tough day for the David Ortiz and the Red Sox offense on Sunday. (Winslow Townson-USA Today Sports)

Well that was a weird game.

On one side, Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed four hits — all homers — and failed to record a strikeout for just the second time in his career. On the other, Jays starter Marco Estrada took a no-hitter into the eighth before Chris Young ended it with a one-out solo homer into the Monster seats.

But just as quickly as the Red Sox looked dead, they put the tying run on second base with two outs in the ninth before pinch hitter Marco Hernandez struck out to end it. The Sox scored three times in the ninth off of closer Roberto Osuna, but when it ended, the Jays had claimed a 5-4 victory to take two out of three.

“We continue to battle right through the final out,” said manager John Farrell. “We’re one swing of the bat away from tying that ballgame up, potentially going ahead. I love the fact that our guys don’t ever quit. They keep coming. There’s a tremendous amount of character in that room. You tip your hat to a quality start by Estrada, but still, we’re four outs from this one being over and against one of the better closers in the game, we took very good swings against a really good fastball and we had some momentum built late.”

The Red Sox haven’t been no-hit since April 22, 1993 by Seattle’s Chris Bosio. They last time they were no-hit at home was July 20, 1958 by Detroit’s Jim Bunning.

Estrada looked like he had a chance through seven, striking out four and walking three, aided by a pair of nice catches in center by Kevin Pillar, as well as a running over-the-shoulder grab by right fielder Jose Bautista to end the seventh.

But Young left no doubt with his blast. Estrada was lifted after allowing a leadoff single in the ninth in favor of closer Osuna, who allowed doubles to Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Hanley Ramirez, and singles to Bradley and Young before rallying from a 3-0 count to strike out Hernandez to end it.

On the other side, Rodriguez allowed home runs to Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Darwin Barney, and Russell Martin. Encarnacion’s was a two-run shot.

Though his velocity crept up to 93-94 mph, Rodriguez frequently found himself behind in the count as he nibbled at the corners, trying to keep the ball from the middle of the plate.

Closing Time note

The Blue Jays entered the game ranked fourth in the American League in strikeouts, but E-Rod didn’t manage one. His only other start without a K came last July in an 11-1 loss to the Angels when he didn’t finish the second inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— The Red Sox offense stagnated, remaining hitless until Young’s homer in the eighth. “Estrada kept us off balance,” Young said.

— E-Rod looked shaky, allowing a first-inning homer to Bautista and lacking a put-away pitch thereafter. He allowed four hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out none. “I feel like I missed the spot all four times — two with a changeup, two with a heater,” he said. “The Martin one was right in the middle. The third one, I feel like it was a good pitch. He just put a pretty good swing on it. That’s the whole thing — I just missed spots four times.”

— With two on via walk in the first leading off against Estrada, AL batting leader Xander Bogaerts chose to bunt. Lead runner Mookie Betts was cut down at third and the Red Sox didn’t sniff another rally until the eighth.

“He saw something there. He sees Dominguez playing back a little bit,” Farrell said. “Thought he might be able to put one down. I’m sure that if he were to revisit things, down a run, nobody out, he’s trying to move runners. He sees something there, but certainly not going to take the bat out of his hands.”

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— DH David Ortiz stroked his league-leading 26th double in the ninth to drive in the second Red Sox run.

— Young raised his average to .286 with his fourth homer of the year. He’s due for increased playing time with catcher Blake Swihart sidelined by a severe ankle sprain. “When you’re not starting you find yourself trying to playing manager in your head to see what kind of situation is coming up for you to bat, trying to get loose throughout game, try to pick opportunities you may go in the game,” Young said. “I’m happy about it, I’m happy about any opportunity I get, any time I’m playing, I’m a happy guy.”

— Relievers Heath Hembree and Clay Buchholz combined to throw 3 1/3 hitless innings, striking out five.

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Read More: Blue Jays, David Ortiz, eduardo rodriguez, Marco Estrada near no-hitter
Red Sox outfielder Chris Young breaks up no-hitter of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada with homer in 8th at 3:48 pm ET
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Marco Estrada

Marco Estrada

On an afternoon when Eduardo Rodriguez limited the Blue Jays to four hits, but all of them were home runs, the story became Jays starter Marco Estrada.

The right-hander no-hit the Red Sox for 7 1/3 innings before Chris Young broke it up with a solo homer to left as the Red Sox trailed 5-1.

The Red Sox haven’t been no-hit since April 22, 1993 by Seattle’s Chris Bosio. They last time they were no-hit at home was July 20, 1958 by Detroit’s Jim Bunning.

Estrada looked like he had a chance through seven, striking out four and walking three. He had been helped by a pair of nice catches in center by Kevin Pillar, as well as a running over-the-shoulder grab by right fielder Jose Bautista to end the seventh.

Rodriguez allowed home runs to Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Darwin Barney, and Russell Martin. Encarnacion’s was a two-run shot.

Read More: Blue Jays, Chris Young, Marco Estrada, No-Hitter
Closing Time: Red Sox offense silenced, pitching allows 2 more homers in loss to Blue Jays 06.04.16 at 12:55 am ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell argues an overturned balk with umpire Jerry Meals on Friday. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)

Red Sox manager John Farrell argues an overturned balk with umpire Jerry Meals on Friday. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox are officially scuffling.

David Price allowed an early home run, Koji Uehara surrendered a late one, and the potent Red Sox offense was silenced for a night in a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays that dropped the Sox back into a virtual tie for first place in the American League East.

Price served up a two-run homer to former teammate Edwin Encarnacion in the first and didn’t allow a run thereafter, exiting after seven innings. But Uehara allowed a two-run shot to Devon Travis in the eighth and that was more than enough for the Jays, who rode a strong start from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and survived a ninth-inning rally that ended along with Xander Bogaerts’ 26-game hitting streak when the Red Sox shortstop struck out to end it for the team’s third straight loss and sixth in nine games.

“That’s what happens whenever you’re behind in the count to hitters like that,” Price said of Encarnacion’s decisive blow. “A 2-0 fastball that wasn’t located. That’s what good hitters do. They put good swings on bad pitches. It’s tough to put us in a hole 2-0 before we even get a chance to hit. Learn from it and get better.”

The Red Sox did nothing with the erratic Dickey, who walked five in 6 2/3 innings. He didn’t allow his first hit until David Ortiz led off the sixth with the first of his two doubles. But Ortiz was stranded, along with virtually every other baserunner. The Red Sox went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.

Their only runs came on a Mookie Betts walk, two ground outs, and a passed ball in the first, and on a Hanley Ramirez groundout in the eighth.

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Read More: al east, Blue Jays, David Price, Dustin Pedroia
Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. J.A. Happ 04.18.16 at 7:30 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz will take the hill Monday and try to give Red Sox fans something to cheer about in the annual Patriots Day morning start. He is set to face off against Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ.

Coming into his third start of the season, Buchholz does not exactly have momentum on his side. In each of his first two starts he allowed five runs. Looking specifically at his last start — April 12 against the Orioles — he was hit hard. He gave up five earned runs over five innings, allowing five hits (two home runs), walking three and striking out five. He took the loss, as the Orioles posted a 9-5 victory.

“I felt like I had good stuff,” Buchholz said after the loss. “I felt like I threw the ball pretty well tonight. Two home runs got me.”

In 27 career starts against the Blue Jays plus one relief appearance, Buchholz is 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.231 WHIP, recording 125 strikeouts and 66 walks in 174 2/3 innings.

Happ, who is back for his second stint in Toronto after pitching for the Mariners and Pirates last year, has been solid through two starts this season. The 10-year major league veteran picked up his first win of the season in his last outing on April 13 against the Yankees. He went six innings, scattering seven hits and allowing just one earned run. He walked three and struck out four in a game the Blue Jays won 7-2. He got out of several jams throughout the game, stranding seven Yankees runners.

“The best thing about tonight was being able to make some pitches in big situations,” Happ said afterward.

Added Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira: “I thought he pitched very well against us. He really mixed it up in and out, up and down, kept us off balance.”

Happ, 33, has made 10 appearances against the Red Sox, including nine starts, going 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.481 WHIP, recording 40 strikeouts and 28 walks in 52 innings.

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Read More: Blue Jays, Clay Buchholz, J.A. Happ, Red Sox
Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Steven Wright vs. Aaron Sanchez 04.17.16 at 8:26 am ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

The Red Sox will send knuckleballer Steven Wright to the hill Sunday afternoon opposite Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez in the third game of the teams’ four-game series at Fenway Park.

Wright faced the same potent Blue Jays lineup in his first start of the season on April 1. It also was his first career start against Toronto. Despite a solid outing, he came away with the loss. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (only one earned) on six hits, while walking three and striking out five. He kept the Red Sox in the game as long as he could, but the team could not get the bats going and went on to lose 3-0.

“Outstanding job on his part,” manager John Farrell said of Wright’s performance. “Kept us in the game into the seventh inning. He minimized the damage as much as possible in the first, but after that first inning, he settled in and controlled and commanded the knuckleball very well. He used his fastball at times to get ahead in the count, to get back into counts. But we ran into an outstanding pitching performance by [Marco] Estrada today.”

Sanchez will try to be the next Blue Jays pitcher to outduel Wright. He has been very effective in his two starts this season, posting an ERA of 1.38 and a WHIP of 0.846, but has yet to factor into a decision. In his last start on April 12 against the Yankees, Sanchez went six innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits. He struck out five and walked three in a game the Blue Jays would go on to lose, 3-2. He was solid for most of the game but struggled with his command at times, which resulted in a high pitch count.

“You don’t expect to be good in the major leagues going ball, ball, ball, then strike, strike, strike,” Sanchez said after the game. “Maybe I wasn’t getting calls, but at this level, you can’t let things like that get to you. I’ll learn from that for the next time.”

In 10 career appearances covering 19 2/3 innings against the Red Sox (including two starts), Sanchez is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.271 WHIP, recording 12 strikeouts and 18 walks.

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Read More: Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays, Red Sox, steven wright
Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: David Price vs. Marco Estrada 04.16.16 at 8:17 am ET
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David Price

David Price

Red Sox ace David Price will take the hill Saturday to face off against his former team, looking to pick up his second win of the season while opposing Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada.

Price came away with a no-decision in his last start against the Orioles. In the home opener at Fenway Park, he struggled to find a groove, lasting just five innings. He allowed five runs on five hits, walking two and striking out eight. The Sox would go on to lose the game when Craig Kimbrel allowed a three-run home run to Chris Davis in the ninth inning.

For the second straight start, Price had one inning in which he ran into trouble. In this case, it was the third inning when he allowed five runs, including a three-run home run to Mark Trumbo.

“It’s kind of been my Achilles’ heel — having that one bad inning,” Price said after the game. “That’s all it takes in this game. It can be one pitch, and today it was just that one bad inning.”

Price, who appeared in 11 games for the Blue Jays last season after being traded from the Tigers, has faced Toronto 21 times in his career, recording a 16-2 record, 2.41 ERA and 1.064 WHIP.

Estrada had no trouble in his last start against the Red Sox last Sunday. He shut out Boston through seven innings of work while allowing five hits, walking two and striking out eight in his season debut. The Blue Jays went on to win the game 3-0. Despite the dominant performance, Estrada said there still is room to grow.

“I feel pretty good,” Estrada said after the game. “Still a little off. Things are going to get better. Just not quite 100 percent with the feel for things but it’s really close.”

Said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia: “The three times I faced him, he didn’t give me one good pitch to hit. He was on the corners, his changeup was great.”

In four career starts against the Red Sox, the 32-year-old Estrada is 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.444 WHIP.

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Read More: Blue Jays, David Price, Marco Estrada, Red Sox
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