Red Sox - 003 030 110 - 8 15 1 Blue Jays - 201 010 003 - 7 12 0The Red Sox began the night with a .287 team batting average, tops in the major leagues, and they pounded out 15 more hits against six Toronto pitchers, with Mookie Betts, Mitch Moreland, and Pablo Sandoval getting three hits each.
The Red Sox needed all eight runs to secure their fourth consecutive victory because Matt Barnes stumbled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and allowed the Blue Jays to bring the potential tying run to the plate. (Betts also hit his first home run of the season, a line drive to left in the seventh inning. And he scored three runs.)
When the Blue Jays tallied two runs on four hits in the first inning off spot starter Brian Johnson (5-7-4-3-6, 97), I wondered how often the opponent has scored first this season. It's not as bad as you might think. In 14 games, the opposing team has scored first eight times, and the Red Sox are 5-3 in those games. (Boston is 4-2 when they score first.)
After stranding two runners in the second, the Red Sox took the lead against Marcus Stroman (4.2-11-6-1-4, 94). Xander Bogaerts, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, singled to center. Andrew Benintendi lined a hit to the opposite field. Betts singled to center, scoring one run and, after Hanley Ramirez struck out, Moreland also went to the opposing field, driving in two.
The Blue Jays immediately tied the score at 3-3 as Justin Smoak homered on Johnson's first offering in the bottom of the third. Although Johnson failed to retire the Jays in order in any of his five innings, and he had to throw 35 pitches in the first, he didn't do all that badly. He showed a nice curveball at times, and he buckled down and retired Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded to end the second.
In the fifth, Betts singled with one out. Ramirez nearly hit one out to right, but his deep drive hit off the wall and Betts raced around the bases and scored. Moreland followed with a drive to left that landed at the base of the wall (meaning if Steve Pearce had not given up on it and waited for the carom, he likely could have made the catch), scoring Ramirez. (A few innings later, NESN's Dave O'Brien would state (erroneously) that this double hit "high up off the fence".*) After Stroman recorded the second out, lefty Aaron Loup came in to pitch. Sandoval, now batting right-handed, notched his first hit from that side of the plate (he had been 0-for-10) with a single to center, making it 6-3.
Russell Martin homered in the home half of the fifth to make it 6-4. Heath Hembree threw a total of 45 pitches in the sixth and seventh and stranded two men on base each inning, but he kept Toronto off the board. Fernando Abad allowed a one-out double to Kevin Pillar (his third double of the game) in the eighth, but Matt Barnes came in and stranded Pillar at third.
As mentioned, Barnes had trouble notching the final out. He issued a two-out walk to Martin, who took second on indifference and scored on Pearce's single to center. Then pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera homered to deep left. That brought up Devon Travis as the potential tying run. Travis - who began the night with a .255 OPS (!) - softly lined out to Bogaerts.
Since beginning the season 0-for-12, Moreland has hit safely in 10 of 12 games, batting .463. Ten of his 19 hits have been doubles. (No one else in the American League has more than five.) ... Benintendi has eight hits in his last three games. ... Sandoval walked in the second inning! Was it his first BB of the year? Actually, no, it was his fourth. I note that Bogaerts has only two walks and Sandy Leon has zero (in 34 plate appearances).
*: O'Brien also told us, when Betts batted in the eighth, that Mookie was "3-for-4 with three hits". Yep, that's how it works, Dave. ... And since I criticized Jerry Remy on Sunday, I should also point out that he was both entertaining and informative when he was talking about signs (from both the bench and the third base coach) in the bottom of the fourth.
Bogaerts, SS(Looks like just a normal day off for the Muddy Chicken.)
Johnson's only other big league appearance was on July 21, 2015, when he allowed four runs in 4.1 innings to Houston. (MLB.com says it was three runs in 5.1 innings, but I'm going to trust Baseball Reference on this one.)
The Blue Jays lost nine of their first 10 games and are 2-10.