August 28, 2017

G131: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5

Red Sox   - 011 000 400 - 6 12  1
Blue Jays - 200 100 002 - 5  8  1
Somebody Named Christian Vazquez went 4-for-4, including a two-run homer in the seventh inning that erased Toronto's lead and sparked the Red Sox to a big inning.

They needed all of those runs because Justin Smoak belted a two-run dong off Craig Kimbrel with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Kimbrel then issued a walk and faced Kendrys Morales as the potential game-losing run, but got him to pop-up to seal the win. Boston's division lead increased to 3.5 games because Cleveland scored in each of the last four innings and beat the Yankees 6-2.

Vazquez's blast was his first road home run of his career (!), coming in his 335th plate appearance away from Fenway Park. He also singled in the second and fifth innings and doubled in the eighth. Vazquez is batting .439 (25-for-57) since July 29.

Vazquez also stole second in the second inning, becoming only the second Red Sox catcher to have four hits, a home run, and a stolen base in a game. Rick Ferrell was the first, doing it against the Philadelphia A's on June 30, 1935.

The Blue Jays, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games, took an early lead with some two-out magic against Drew Pomeranz (6-7-3-5-4, 105). Pomeranz walked Smoak and Jose Bautista doubled him to third. Both runners scored on Morales's double to right.

Boston got one run back when Hanley Ramirez doubled with two outs in the second. He went to third on Vazquez's single and scored on catcher Raffy Lopez's error on Vaz's stolen base. Eduardo Nunez tied the game with a leadoff dong in the third.

Pomeranz dealt with baserunners throughout the game. A single and a walk gave the Blue Jays two runners with one out in the second, but Pomeranz got Pearce on a fly to right and struck out Josh Donaldson. Pomeranz allowed hits to the first three batters in the fourth - a double by Kevin Pillar and singles by Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins - and Toronto had a 3-2 lead. Pomeranz walked two more in the fifth and left the bases loaded; Rafael Devers made a key play with the bases loaded, throwing home on a sharp grounder for a force play on Donaldson.

Marcus Stroman left after six innings (6-7-2-0-4, 99) and the Red Sox rallied against the bullpen. Ramirez grounded a hard single to center against Danny Barnes and Vazquez crushed an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in left, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 lead (their first lead since last Wednesday). After Brock Holt popped to short, Barnes walked Nunez. Lefty Aaron Loup gave up a ground-rule double to Andrew Benintendi and he walked Mookie Betts intentionally. Mitch Moreland grounded the ball to the right side. First baseman Smoak ranged far to his right and shoveled the ball to Goins at second base. But Betts beat the throw and another run scored. Ryan Tepera was the next man out of Toronto's pen and he walked Xander Bogaerts on four pitches to force in a run. Devers grounded into a 6-2-3 double play (which was upheld after the Red Sox challenged the call at first base).

Addison Reed retired the Blue Jays' 3-4-5 hitters in order in the seventh and Brandon Workman pitched a perfect eighth (on only seven pitches). In the ninth, Kimbrel walked Lopez (although ball 3 was very clearly a strike). Pearce flied out to deep center and Donaldson popped to right. Kimbrel got a strike on Smoak before he belted his 36th home run of the season. Bautista checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch and walked, and Ezequiel Carrera pinch-ran. Kimbrel got a 2-2 count on Morales (and threw over to first three times) before the Toronto DH popped to Bogaerts.

Pillar made one of the best catches of the year in the sixth inning, sprinting towards the warning track in right-center and leaping and catching Betts's line drive and then sailing through the air before crashing onto the track and sliding into the outfield wall.

WEEI: Every time I watch a game with the radio sound I'm surprised by the number of mistakes Joe Castiglione makes during a game. First of all, he must never look at his monitor because he will often call pitches that are inside or outside "right down the middle" or he will say a high pitch is low (or vice versa). He made a number of gaffes tonight. In the bottom of the fifth, he said Pomeranz had dealt with "runners in every inning", but he had pitched a perfect third (just two innings earlier). After the bottom of the fifth, he said the Blue Jays had left a total of eight men on base, but the correct number was seven. In the top of the sixth, he said Pillar's catch of Devers's fourth-inning line drive had "saved a run", but the bases were empty at the time. He claimed a foul ball by Lopez went into the fifth deck; I did not see where the ball landed, but I'm highly skeptical, as NESN did not show even one replay. And on a foul at the plate by Donaldson, he said the ball went to the backstop. ... I understand that none of these mistakes are serious, but they do add up - and the five I noted happened in less than two innings. Castiglione makes these kinds of errors nearly every night.
Drew Pomeranz / Marcus Stroman
Nunez, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Ramirez, DH
Vazquez, C
Holt, LF
The Red Sox need to start hitting - and perhaps playing three games against the AL East's basement dwellers will provide a catalyst. Boston has batted .221 over its last seven games, .211 over the last five games, and only .186 in the recent three-game series sweep by the Orioles.

Michael Silverman, Herald:
How is it that a team that played at such an elite level since the trading deadline suddenly faces a season-worst five-game losing streak tonight if it loses to the Blue Jays in the opener of yet another critical road trip? ...

A collapse is not at all on the table right now, but you can bet if the Red Sox cannot take care of business in Toronto against the one and only team in their division they are capable of beating handily — 7-3 so far, with nine games left to go — things are going to get awfully squirmy along Yawkey Way. ...

[T]he Red Sox need to spring from the gutter they just stumbled into and wipe off the mud.

They'd best get in that habit in Toronto these next three games. Waiting until getting to the Bronx would be inexcusable.
The Red Sox took possession of first place on August 1 and had as much as a 5.5-game lead (after beating the Yankees on August 13), but that cushion has shrunk to 2.5 games. (Both the Red Sox and Yankees are 12-8 over their last 20 games.) The Yankees are hosting Cleveland for three games before the Red Sox invade the Bronx for four games starting this Thursday.


Clem said...

Ah, Castig...he must not know or care about the radio audio option, so he thinks he can get away with saying whatever.

PK said...

Statcast is quite a cool tool as it gave Pillars catch a probability of %38 which is a good catch but suggests that it wasn't all that rare. One of the radio guys suggested that JBJ might've caught the ball in stride and statcast suggests that that could be true.