It was not a bad night all around for Toronto teams facing Boston teams, with both coughing up late-ish leads. In the Blue Jays case, they were done in by a pair of Mookie Betts home runs, the latter a decisive two run shot off Danny Barnes in the 7th inning to flip a one run deficit into a one run lead that held.
Frankly, setting aside the disappointing outcome, the game was about as dismal as the weather. It was quite a sloppy affair on both sides. For a second straight night, the Jays didn’t do much in the way of offensive production as they managed just 6 hits and a walk. And once again, the bats shut down in the latter half, the last 11 batters retired in order. In all, the Jays went three up, three down six times.
The highlight for the Jays was Aaron Sanchez, who was overall quite good with 8 strikeouts and just 3 hits allowed despite having to work out of some jams due to free passes induced by wildness. Regardless, holding the Red Sox to two runs over 6 innings is an impressive feat, especially when it’s in spite of the outfield’s best efforts to increase the tally.
Betts put the Red Sox up on the third pitch of the game, drilling a 2-0 fastball over the wall in left field. The Jays responded in the bottom of the inning as Steve Pearce led off with a double and came around on an bouncer by Justin Smoak that was thrown away.
Sanchez settled in and dominated for the next three innings, a mix of strikeouts and weak contact on the ground with just a single allowed. Unfortunately, Eduardo Rodriguez matched him, an error the only blemish on his record.
The 5th was a different story, as Sanchez worked himself into a jam with a walk and hit-by-pitch. That brought up noted Jay-killer Brock Holt, who lifted a fly ball to deep left, but that should have been catchable. But Steve Pearce stumbled on first movment, falling to the turf, and the ball dropped in for a double exacerbating the jam and putting the Red Sox up 2-1. Sanchez prevented further damage despite another walk with an inning ending double play.
Pearce did hisbest to atone in the bottom of the inning, with a two out RBI single to bring home Lourdes Gurriel who had singled and stole second. Tesocar Hernandez singled behind him but both were stranded, the last real rally the Jays would mount on the evening.
They did manage to get the lead however, as Yangervis Solarte broke out of an extended 1-for-20 slump with a no doubter leading off the 6th inning. And then that was that in terms of offensive production.
Alas, it wasn’t enough. Danny Barnes has been excellent this year, but when you liv by the fly ball, you will tend to die by the home run. And Betts bit Barnes, going the other way following a Holt (who else, of course?) single. The ball just made it over the fence towards the foul pole, probably a home run where the livelier ball makes a meaningful difference, but that’s a different matter entirely.
Barnes walked the next two to end his night, replaced by Seung-hwan Oh who added a walk of his own to load the bases. He got out of it unscathed but shouldn’t have, as Andrew Benintendi didn’t tag up on a deep fly ball to right, either because he left the bag too early and had to return or because he was screened by the umpire (looked to me like he tried to blame the former on the latter). So again, sloppy. But it didn’t matter, nor did the couple of further shutout innings from the Jays’ bullpen.
Jays of the Day: Sanchez (+0.120 WPA), Oh (+0.133, and only because Benintendi didn’t score when he should have), Pearce (+0.172, which doesn’t consider the fiasco in LF)
Suckage: Barnes (-0.449) and the oh-fer brigade: Kevin Pillar (-0.149), Aledmys Diaz (-0.127), Kendrys Morales (-0.108) and Russell Martin (-0.107); who combined to go 0é14 with a walk. Production!
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to take the series at 7:05 EDT against Chris Sale....stranger things have happened, I guess. He’ll be opposed by Marco Estrada.