Can we figure out a way to play the Red Sox in the playoffs? They’re now 15-3 against their division rivals, with a +67 run differential. They’re 74-66 with a +19 against everyone else.
This one never felt like it was in any doubt. Ross Stripling was very strong, the entire offence was clicking, and the bullpen had no trouble closing it out.
Ross Stripling was typically efficient today. He pitched six shutout innings, allowing only four hits, none for extra bases, and no walks, striking out three. If not for a Bo Bichette error in the fourth that allowed Alex Verdugo to get to second on a Rob Refsnyder ground ball he would never have faced a runner in scoring position.
On the other side, Brayan Bello struggled from the outset, but it took the Jays a bit to cash in. In the first, George Springer and Bo Bichette reached on singles, but they weren’t able to score them. They got on the board in the second. Teoscar Hernandez and Raimel Tapia reached on a pair of singles and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Hernandez scored on a Danny Jansen line single, and Tapia followed on a second wild pitch to make it 2-0. The same guys expanded the lead in the third, this time with Hernandez doubling into the left field gap, Tapia reaching on a walk, and Jansen bringing them both home with a double lined into the right field corner. Two more Jays got on in the fourth, Springer on a line single and Bichette on a ground single to right, but this time Guerrero and Matt Chapman grounded out to end the inning.
It took Bello 86 pitches to work through those four innings, and Alex Corra called for rookie Zack Kelly to handle the fifth. Kelly had had a decent start to his MLB career, compiling a 2.13 ERA through 12 appearances. It took a bit of a turn today, though. Hernandez lead off with a bomb into the second deck to centre field, and after a Tapia strike out, Jansen followed with a liner into the Jays’ bullpen to make it 6-0. Merrifield grounded out, but then Springer and Bichette hit their third and fourth singles of the night, respectively, and Guerrero hit a fly into the right field corner that bounced into the stands for a ground rule double to extend the lead to 7.
Former Jays farm hand Josh Winckowski was able to briefly stabilize things for the Red Sox in the sixth. He walked Chapman, but got a pair of ground outs including a double play ball from Hernandez for a scoreless frame. In the seventh, John Schneider rolled out the bench, Hitting Bradley Zimmer, Otto Lopez, and Cavan Biggio for Springer, Bichette, and Guerrero. Lopez grounded up the middle for his first career major league hit, but nothing else of note happened. In the eighth, though, he also fell apart. Gabriel Moreno (hitting for Kirk) lead off by lining a single into left field, Chapman reached on an infield single, and Hernandez doubled off the right field wall (his second of the night) to bring Moreno home and make it 8-0. Tapia singled to score Chapman, and then Jansen almost hit his second homer of the night, but settled for a sac fly to the track in right-centre that scored Hernandez, pushing the lead out to 10.
Meanwhile, the Jays bullpen kept up Stripling’s theme of efficiency. Anthony Bass worked around a Christian Arroyo line single to post a clean seventh and David Phelps worked a 1-2-3, eighth. Jordan Romano got the first two batters he faced, but lost a fastball that hit Rob Refsnyder. Schneider took him out at that point, I guess because they felt that his 13 pitches were enough in an outing that was just intended to get him some work. Adam Cimber came in and froze Tristan Casas to end the ballgame.
Jays of the Day: Stripling (0.216), Hernandez (0.132), and Jansen (0.223) were the only ones who had the number, but that’s mostly because it was out of hand early. Almost everyone contributed. Hat tip to Otto Lopez for his first career hit.
The final game of the series, and the final home game of the regular season for the Jays, goes tomorrow at 1:37pm ET. Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.30) will face Michael Wacha (11-1, 3-06).