By MyFM's Jake Archer - After experiencing their first series loss of the year, the Sox needed a bounce back and they went to Toronto looking for just that. Rick Porcello was on the hill facing off with JA Happ, the man who is currently the ace for the Blue Jays. We were primed for a good pitching matchup, and we got one.
After striking out the side in the first, Porcello did get in some trouble in the second inning. Steve Pearce walked to lead off the frame and Russell Martin singled to put men at first and third. Kevin Pillar then grounded to Rafael Devers at third, which drove in Pearce. Devers couldn't get any of the outs despite not committing an error, so Martin and Pillar stood at first and second. Aledmys Diaz grounded to shortstop Brock Holt, who threw to second to get Pillar. There was still only one out, and now runners were on the corners. The next batter, Devon Travis, grounded to Devers. The third baseman threw home to cut down Martin trying to score, but there were still two runners on with two outs. Porcello then uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position and then gave up a two-run single to Curtis Granderson which made it 3-0 Toronto.
The Sox didn't score until the sixth when Holt led off with a double and then scored on a two-out single to center by Hanley Ramirez. In the eighth, Ryan Tepera came on to replace Happ, who had more than done his job. Happ's final line was seven innings pitched, four hits, one run and ten punchouts. Porcello also was done after seven as Joe Kelly came on to start the bottom of the eighth. Porcello's final line was seven innings pitched, three hits, three runs, three walks and nine strikeouts. He'd settled in and pitched well again for Boston.
In the ninth, the Jays brought in their young closer Roberto Osuna to shut down the Sox. Instead, Osuna allowed a single to Hanley, struck out JD Martinez and then allowed a single to Devers. Eduardo Nunez came up next and smacked an RBI single to right that would cut the lead to one. After Osuna got Jackie Bradley Jr. on strikes, the Sox were down to their last out. Christian Vazquez drew a walk and then Holt smoked a single to left to tie the game. Nunez tried to come around to score and take the lead, but Granderson got him at the plate to end the inning. Granderson was the hero there and again in the bottom of the tenth when he unloaded on a walkoff homer off of Craig Kimbrel. The Sox had lost a third straight and were spiraling. Their unhittable closer had blown the game and took the loss. Osuna had picked up a blown save for Toronto, but Ryan Tepera got the hold and Tyler Clippard grabbed the win.
On Wednesday, the Sox turned to Eduardo Rodriguez to stop the skid. He'd be facing Aaron Sanchez, who is an extremely underrated arm for Toronto. Sanchez fell victim to a Mookie Betts homer to lead off the game, as a few pitchers have this season. In the bottom of the first though, Steve Pearce doubled to lead it off for the Jays and Justin Smoak grounded out to Rafael Devers. Devers threw the ball away however, and Pearce scored to tie it.
Things stayed at 1-1 until the fifth when Sanchez walked JBJ and then hit Vazquez with a pitch. Holt doubled to center to drive in Bradley and take the lead back for the Sox. E-Rod gave the run right back in the bottom half. After a groundout from Pillar, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled and stole second. Diaz grounded out, but Pearce roped a single to tie the game at 2. In the next inning, Yangervis Solarte took Rodriguez deep to give Toronto the lead at 3-2 but Boston wasn't going to go down easy in this one. They needed a win and they were going to find a way to get one. In the top of the seventh, Danny Barnes came on to replace Sanchez. Sanchez went six innings, allowing two runs on three hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. He was in line for the win, but Barnes ruined it by giving up a one-out single to Holt and then a two-run shot to Mookie Betts (his second of the game). Boston had the lead back.
In the bottom of the inning, Rodriguez was done after getting two outs. He'd gone six and two-thirds while giving up three runs on six hits, one walk and three strikeouts. The score held at 4-3 the rest of the way and the Sox were back in the win column. E-Rod picked up the win to move to 3-0 while Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly got holds. Craig Kimbrel bounced back with his sixth save. On the Blue Jays' side, Barnes blew the save and took the loss.
The final game of the set saw Chris Sale take the mound against Marco Estrada. Sale certainly did not have his best as he allowed a one-out walk, a single, a hit batter, and a sac-fly in the first inning. In the second, he was in more trouble as he let Travis take him deep for a solo-shot. In the third, the Sox got to Estrada to stay in the game. Holt smacked a double but pulled up lame with a hamstring injury as he legged it out. Tzu-Wei Lin came in to run and scored on an Andrew Benintendi double. Sale couldn't hold it down though, and gave the run back on a Justin Smoak homer in the third.
Boston stayed strong with another run in the next frame as JD Martinez singled and then was called out when Mitch Moreland hit into a fielder's choice. Moreland moved to third on a Nunez double and then scored on a sac-fly from Devers. The Sox tacked on three more in the fifth, all with two outs. Benintendi and Hanley singled and then Martinez sent a three-run homer to the opposite field to make it 5-3. The only other run to come across in the game was off of Carson Smith in the seventh. Smith came on to replace Sale and gave up a one-out triple to Travis and then an RBI groundout to Kendry Morales. Toronto couldn't get closer than 5-4 and lost the series.
Sale pitched six innings, gave up four hits, three runs, two walks and struck out four. He picked up the win and if that's a bad game for him, I guess we can count ourselves lucky as Sox fans. Estrada got hit with the loss after going five innings and giving up five runs on eight hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Smith and Matt Barnes earned holds while Kimbrel worked his third straight game and grabbed his seventh save.
After another series win, Boston headed back home to face a team they had their way with so far this year, the Rays. Tampa Bay was hot coming in though, so the Sox couldn't take them for granted. Drew Pomeranz was heading back out for his second start of the year to start the series on Friday night. He'd face the young ace of the Rays, Blake Snell. Let's just say, it went the way you might think it would for a guy who is working his way back against a guy who is having a good season thus far.
Pomeranz allowed a one-out single to CJ Cron in the first and then a two-out, two-run bomb to Wilson Ramos that cleared everything in left. In the third, Rob Refsynder smoked a leadoff shot to left to make it 3-0 Tampa Bay. The fourth inning saw Daniel Robertson take Pomeranz deep for the third homer on a cold night. The lefty was done after five innings in which he gave up four runs on six hits, two walks and four Ks. He took the loss. The Sox finally scored in the bottom of the sixth off of Snell. Vazquez doubled to lead it off and then Mookie Betts doubled to drive him in with one out. Martinez blasted a double of his own to score Mookie with two outs.
In the eighth, Snell got the first out and then was pulled for Chaz Roe. He'd went seven and one third innings while giving up two runs on five hits, one walk and nine strikeouts. Roe immediatley gave up a double to Betts and then a two-out single to Martinez to make it 4-3. That was it for the game though, as Tampa Bay held on for the win. Snell got the win, Roe got the hold and Alex Colome picked up an elusive save against Boston. Boston had put a runner on in the ninth against the Rays closer but couldn't push it across.
Saturday's game saw David Price take the ball against Yonny Chirinos in what was a Rays "bullpen day." Chirinos started off rough by hitting Betts to start the game, giving up a single to Benintendi, walking Hanley and then giving up a sac-fly with one out to Xander Bogaerts (who had returned from injury on Friday). The damage could have been much worse though, and Tampa was lucky to escape the first. They picked up two runs in the second when Ramos roped a double, and Denard Span singled to center. Well, it should have been a single but JBJ misplayed the ball about as badly as you can and fell flat on his face. The ball rolled by him to the wall and Span came all the way around for a two-run inside the park homer. I have no idea how this wasn't called an error and it's a crime that the runs were charged to Price.
Boston came back in the next half inning with singles from Nunez and JBJ. Chirinos unleashed a wild pitch which allowed Nunez to move up to third. Nunie then scored when Vazquez bounced into a double play, and the game was tied at 2. Chirinos was done after two innings, three runs, six hits, two walks and three punchouts. Price gave two runs back again in the third on a CJ Cron double and a Wilson Ramos homer. Of course, the Sox came back with another run in the bottom half. Benintendi doubled, Hanley singled, Martinez walked and Bogaerts shot an RBI single to left. It was 4-3 Tampa Bay but both teams were showing the ability to answer.
This time, the next score waited until it was Boston's turn again. In the fourth, Betts doubled and Hanley drove him in to tie it. Mookie pulled up with a hamstring injury though, and was replaced in the top of the fifth. Price started to get real ugly as he gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases. He then walked in a run to give the lead back. In the bottom half, Devers launched his fourth homer of the season to knot it back up at 5. Unfortunatley, Boston couldn't keep Tampa Bay off the scoreboard at all.
Price gave up a single to lead off the sixth, and Hechavarria scampered to second on a passed ball with one out. After getting the second out of the inning, Price was lifted for Hembree. Duffy singled to drive in the runner and closed the book on the lefty. Price's final line was five and two thirds innings, six runs (five earned) on eight hits, four walks and five Ks. Gomez led off the seventh with a solo homer off of Hembree to extend the Tampa lead. In the eighth, Brian Johnson came in and gave up two singles to lead off the inning and then a two-out double to Jesus Sucre to score one run. Finally, the ninth inning saw Tampa plate four more runs. Denard Span singled and Hechavarria singled before Brad Miller drove one in with a hit of his own. Johnny Field smoked a three-run shot to make it 12-5 and cap a very bad day for Boston. Even though they picked up a run on a Benintendi double and Devers RBI base hit in the ninth, it was the messiest loss of the season for the Sox.
Now they'd lost the first two at home to Tampa Bay and were in a funk. Price took the loss while Ryan Yarbrough got the win. Roe and Jose Alvarado picked up holds for the Rays. Boston had to come back on Sunday and do all they could to not be swept for the first time all year. Mookie Betts was out of the lineup and they had Porcello going against Matt Andriese in another "bullpen day." After cruising through the first two, Porcello coughed up two runs in the third. Hechavarria singled to lead off the frame and then advanced to second when Porcello sailed a pickoff attempt by Moreland at first. After recording two outs, Rick gave up a two-run shot to Span to put Tampa ahead.
In the fourth, Miller doubled with one out and Mallex Smith singled to center to drive him in. Down 3-0, it felt like Boston might just be ready to succumb to a sweep. Andriese was done after three and a third. He gave up no runs and only two hits while striking out three. The sixth inning said otherwise, as they staged a rally. Nunez singled, Benintendi walked and Hanley singled. The bases were loaded for JD Martinez, who drove in two with a single that got into left. After that, Moreland walked to load the bases back up. Sergio Romo came on for Tampa and struck out Devers before allowing a sac-fly to JBJ to tie the game at 3. In the eighth, Alex Cora decided to pull Porcello for Kimbrel with two outs. "Pretty Ricky" had a final line of seven and two thirds innings, three runs on seven hits, no walks and six Ks. Kimbrel gave up a double but then struck out Miller to end the inning.
The Sox needed a run badly and they found it when Martinez singled to lead off the eighth, JBJ walked with two outs and then Sandy Leon hit a laser of a double down the line to drive in JD. Leon had done basically nothing at the plate all season and I'm sure everyone was clamoring for a pinch-hitter, but he came through this time and played the hero. In the top of the ninth, Kimbrel worked around a single and a boneheaded play by Devers to pick up the save and secure the win for himself and the team. Romo was hit with the blown save and Colome took the loss.
Boston opened up a series at Fenway with the Kansas City Royals tonight. There will be more to come on that soon! Stay tuned!