The Blue Jays pitching staff has carried the offense through several games they had no business winning in the past few days, and they did it again tonight.
Martin Perez started for the Red Sox. Perez always seemed to dominate the Jays back when he was a Ranger, posting a 2.36 ERA in 34 innings facing them coming into tonight. Perez’s stuff isn’t overpowering, but tonight he did a terrific job spotting it on the edges of the zone in places the Jays’ hitters couldn’t do much with it. Teoscar Hernandez worked a walk in the first inning, but through three innings that was it.
Taijuan Walker made his second start for the Jays, and continued to look like an excellent pickup. He gave up a deep solo home run to Jackie Bradley jr. and a single to Chavis in the second, but mostly rolled through the first few innings.
The Jays had a chance to get on the board in the fourth, but some patented Blue Jays base running ineptitude squandered the opportunityr. Vladimir Guerrero jr. worked a two out walk. Lourdes Gurriel jr. got to a 3-0 count, then hit a towering pop fly to shallow right field that Red Sox second baseman Michael Chavis dropped. Guerrero, who was running on contact, made it safely to third. Then, inexplicably, he tried to sneak home when Chavis was a beat slow getting up with the ball. The other fielders alerted Chavis, who made an easy throw to get Vlad at the plate by 10 feet.
The Red Sox also had an opportunity in the fourth, with back to back singles to Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez to lead off, but Walker escaped the jam.
Both sides went in order in the fifth. In the sixth, a Cavan Biggio walk was swiftly erased by a room service double play ball from Randal Grichuk.
Walker got into some trouble in the bottom of the sixth. Alex Verdugo lead off with a single. Walker managed to get Devers to ground out, then got Bogaerts swinging. Martinez hit a long single off the base of the Green Monster, and Walker issues his first free pass of the night to Vazquez to load the bases. That was the end of his night. Anthony Kay came in to face Bradley and walked him, scoring Verdugo. He then got Chavis swinging to limit the damage. In spite of leaving in a bad spot, Walker was very solid tonight. His final line was 5.2IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 4K.
It wasn’t until the seventh that Hernandez finally broke up Perez’s no-hit bid with a single off the Monster. Gurriel followed, after a pop out by Guerrero, with a line drive single to right. The Blue Jays had a runner in scoring position for the firs time all night. Jonathan Villar flied out, but Joe Panik won a tough battle with Perez, singling up the middle to drive Hernandez home. At this point, Austin Brice was brought in for the Red Sox, while Rowdy Tellez was sent up to hit for Danny Jansen (who’d looked hopeless striking out in his two PAs). Brice hit Tellez to load the bases. Montoyo nex brought in Travis Shaw to hit for Santiago Espinal. While a reasonable move in theory, Shaw has been in a deep slump and relying on him to come in cold in a critical situation seemed questionable. Shaw didn’t do anything to validate his manager’s trust, watching two strikes before getting beaten by a high fastball.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kay struck out Bobby Dalbec and got a fly out by Verdugo but a hard ground ball from Yairo Munoz found a hole, and Villar bobbled a chopper over the mound by Rafael Devers to put men on first and second. It was a tough play, he had to come in from behind second nearly to the mound and didn’t have a lot of time to pick the ball up and throw. Montoyo went to Thomas Hatch to face righty Xander Bogaerts, who popped up to end the inning.
Biggio lead off the eighth with a towering fly to centre left field. It would certainly have left the Rogers Centre, but the combination of the Monster and Fenway’s deep centre field held Biggio to a double. Brice walked Grichuk, and was pulled for Ryan Brasier. Before he could throw a pitch, Brasier balked on an attempted pickoff of Biggio at second. When he did throw one, it was in the dirt and went right through Vazquez’s legs, bringing the tieing run in and sending Grichuk to third with no outs. They weren’t able to do anything more with the opportunity, though. Hernandez struck out, Guerrero and Gurriel grounded out, and the inning was over.
Hatch worked around a leadoff double in the eighth, getting a strikeout, a groundout and a popout from the next three batters.
Panik singled again in the ninth, but Villar, McGuire, and Shaw were overpowered by Matt Barnes and all struck out.
Hatch returned to start the ninth, but walked Dalbec on four pitches. Ryan Borucki came in to try to send the game to extras. His command has been a mess in his past couple outings, and he continued to struggle with it tonight. The Red Sox hitters helped him out, though, chasing some balls way outside the zone and missing a couple sliders hung over the middle of the plate. He got Munoz swininging, then a pop up from Verdugo before finally walking Devers. Dolis was brought in and got Bogaerts to fly out to end the ninth.
In the tenth, Biggio took a leadoff walk off Phillips Valdez. Grichuk hit what should probably have been a double play ball to Chavis (now playing first), who misread it, running left then having to dive back right and bobbling the ball. He got Grichuk at first, but the runners advanced. Hernandez took advantage of the opportunity, launching an opposite field home run to give the Jays a 5-2 lead. Guerrero struck out, but Gurriel chipped in an insurance run with a homer that looked like it went right over the left field foul pole. Villar and Panik walked, but McGuire grounded out to end the inning. After nine innings of almost total futility at the plate, it was a huge relief to see the offense come alive in the tenth. The Red Sox pitching staff should be enough to bring anyone out of a slump, and I really hope the Jays offense can take advantage.
Dolis came back out in the tenth in line for the win. He walked Martinez, but struck out the other three batters he faced to ice the game and send the Jays into a tie for second place in the A.L. East.
Jays of the Day: Walker (0.151), Dolis (0.147), Borucki (0.108), Biggio (0.551), Hernandez (0.205), Panik (0.143)
Suckage: Guerrero (-0.201), Villar (-0.191), Shaw (-0.213), and I’ll let McGuire and Jansen share one because they looked awful.
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Tomorrow the Jays and Red Sox play games two and three of their five game series. Game one kicks off at 4:10ET on SportsNet One, with Tanner Roark facing off against Zack Godley. Game two will follow, featuring the Blue Jays debut of Ross Stripling against Chris Mazza.