Red Sox 6 at Blue Jays 5 (10 innings)
The Jays had their chances, but after walking off the Red Sox last night couldn’t repeat the feat and pull out a compelling back-and-forth affair that did not lack for drama and despite the outcome was four very hours of baseball.
Alex Manoah turned in another quality start, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits in 7 innings, just one free pass against 6 strikeouts. It was a good outing that was almost a great outing before it was tarnished late with a two out, two run home run that flipped a one run lead into a one run deficit.
Manoah dominated the Red Sox almost entirely with his fastball, which sat in the mid-90s throughout and was run up as high as 97 when he needed a little extra. Which was quite often, as Manoah’s slider wasn’t the dynamic putaway weapon it’s so often been for him. He didn’t throw many early (the first coming with two out in the second), instead mixing in a handful of decent change-ups for a different look.
Later on he did mix in more sliders, and visually they seemed to be decently sharp, but of the 18 he threw he got just one swinging strike, two called strikes, and a few of them were hit unusually good. I blame myself; I had in mind a headline pun about Manoah’s sweeping slider leading a sweep of the Red Sox, so of course it was not in the cards.
The Red Sox scored their first run in the 3rd, as after watching the first six batters get blown away Franchy Cordero dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line. Helpless to do anything about it, Manoah threw his glove at it to try and stop it, and was just lucky his aim was off as it would have been a three base penalty if he had rather than a single. Cordero stole second, advancing to third as the throw was airmailing, scoring on a sac fly.
The only other spot of trouble came in the 5th when Manoah gave up leadoff singles to Christian Vazquez and Cordero, and they were bunted into scoring position with one out. Manoah blew away Jackie Bradley with the aforementioned 97 MPH heat to prevent a productive out plating the run.
The 6th started with a couple easy outs, before Xander Bogaerts squibbed a ground ball down the third base line that Matt Chapman made a valiant effort to barehand, but was just late. That brought up Alex Verdugo, and the lack of secondary weapons finally caught to Manoah as he left a 2-0 fastball over the heart of the plate and Verdugo crushed it to right centre. Cordero got to Manoah for a leadoff double in the 7th but Manoah bore down to strand him.
The Jays staked Manoah to an early lead in the 2nd, as Santiago Espinal picked up a two out RBI with a ground ball up the middle after Alejandro Kirk walked leading off and Raimel Tapia singled. They stranded those two, plus another three in a third inning that had some fireworks after Kirk was hit by a pitch and there was some jawing between sstarter Nick Pivetta, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Rafael Devers which caused the benches and then bullpens to empty but nothing further. Alas, nothing more than silliness.
After the Sox knotted it 1-1, they regained the lead in the 5th courtesy of George SPringer leading off the inning with a 413 foot fly ball to dead centre that not only just cleared the wall, but just evaded the leaping glove of Bradley by about six inches.
The problem was, other than that, the top of the lineup did very little. The top four hitters combined for just two hits and two walks in 21 trips to the plate, and ultimately that back to bite later on.
In any event, it was the bottom of the order that re-knotted the score in the bottom of the 8th. Lourdes Gurriel jr. shot a one out double down the right field line, with pinch runner Bradley Zimmer scoring after Tapia blooped a double into left-centre. Which Tapia spent a little too much time admiring rather than running out of the box, resulting in a close play at third. Espinal walked to put a second runner on with two out, and Cavan Biggio shot two screamers down the first base line just foul. But he struck out.
After Jordan Romano kept the Red Sox off the board despite a couple runners in the top of the 9th, the Jays had the top of the order up with ace reliever Johnny Schreiber having already been burnt facing them in the 7th. Springer walked, but the next three went down in order to send it to extras.
To be charitable, the top of the 10th was a mess. David Phelps didn’t have it, walking the first two batters to load the bases. Then he actually managed to find the zone with the heat and get ahead of J.D. Martinez, putting him in a 0-2 hole. Martinez fought off a few pitches, and then Phelps dotted him in the back to force in the go-ahead run. So that was the end of him.
Tim Mayza almost pulled a Houdini act to escape further damage, inducing a 3-2-3 double play by Bogaerts to get two out without further damage. But that brought up Verdugo (for whom I’d like to use a colourful nickname that Tom won’t allow. Actually his response was ambiguous, but I’m being discrete). Anyway, he mashed a ball to the left-centre to plate both runs for a 6-3 lead that ended up the coup-de-grace.
With two out, the Jays mounded a spirited rally, with Chapman and Espinal singling followed by Biggio straightening out one of those screamers down the line for a double (if nonly he could have done so in the 8th...) to make it 6-5. But that brought up the top of the order, and today that was the kiss of death as Springer popped out.
Jays of the Day: Tapia (+0.219 WPA, despite not running hard out of the box), Espinal (+0.106), and let’s give one to Gurriel (+0.076) too for the hit and walk.
Suckage: A veritable parade of horribles by the numbers...Phelps (-0.332), Guerrero (-0.192), Bichette (-0.162), Kirk (-0.092). Springer (-0.110) also had the number but the positives spare him the ignominity, and Chapman (-0.094) was also very close despite two hits.
Tomorrow, the Jays “welcome” the Rays to Rogers Centre for a critical division matchup with postseason implications even halfway through the season. Instead of a Canada Day long weekend series however, we’ll have an unconventional long series at five games to make up for a lost series in the first week of April. It kicks off with a YouTube game tomorrow at 7:05 EDT, though with some uncertainty on both sides as Tampa currently has a TBD and the Jays have Yusei Kikuchi’s turn.