Records Entering Series: BOS (17-4, 1st in AL East), TOR (13-8, 2nd in AL East)
Boston entered the series in Toronto on their first losing streak of the year and faltered in game 1 before showing toughness to take games 2 and 3.
Red Sox Nation were spoiled with incredible offensive and pitching performances to begin the year, but Boston seems to be coming back down to Earth a bit. That’s not to say, though, that they aren’t a good team (perhaps one of the best in the MLB). After all, they did just take 2 of 3 from the 2nd place Blue Jays and 6 of 9 away from home on this road trip.
They head back to Fenway for a 6-game home stand vs. the Rays and Rangers.
Game 1: BOS-3, TOR-4
(Photo credit: ESPN)
Toronto gained a nice lead in the 2nd inning when Pearce walked to lead off, Martin singled and moved Pearce to 3rd, and Pillar grounded out but drove home the run. 2 more fielder’s choice groundouts followed, and Granderson made it 3-0 with a sharply hit ground ball that Devers was unable to corral, bringing home 2 more runs.
It was stalemate for the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings, but Boston scraped a run back in the 6th when Holt led off with a double and Ramirez singled him home.
The Sox tied it up in the 9th with singles from Martinez, Devers and Nunez to score Martinez, and then a single by Holt that scored Devers. Nunez was thrown out at home on a questionable send from the 3rd base coach.
Kimbrel came on to pitch the 10th after a scoreless bottom 9th and top 10th, and recorded just one out before giving up a solo home run to Granderson that gave Toronto the win.
Rick Porcello was very good on the night, compiling 9 K’s.
Other notable performances include Hanley Ramirez and Brock Holt (3 hits and 1 RBI each).
Game 2: BOS-4, TOR-3
(Photo credit: ESPN)
Mookie Betts led off with a home run to make it 1-0 Boston, but Toronto’s Smoak responded with an infield single that scored Pearce to even it up.
The two teams again exchanged runs in the 5th with a double by Holt that scored Bradley in the top half and a single by Pearce that brought home Gurriel in the bottom half.
Toronto took the lead in the 6th with a Solarte solo home run, but Betts answered in the next inning with a 2-run shot that scored himself and Holt and gave Boston the lead for the final time.
Eduardo Rodriguez pitched well again, going 6.2 while allowing 6 hits and 3 runs. Hembree and Kelly were both awarded holds with 1.1 combined scoreless innings, and Kimbrel got his redemption from the previous night by pitching a perfect 9th for the save.
Other notable performances include Betts (2 HR, 3 RBI) and Holt (3 hits and an RBI).
Game 3: BOS-5, TOR-4
(Photo credit: ESPN)
Toronto got to an uncharacteristically sloppy Chris Sale early, scoring on a sac fly in the 1st and home runs in the 2nd and 3rd.
Boston answered, though, scoring 1 in the 3rd from a Benintendi double that scored Lin, who subbed in for Holt after Holt pulled up with a lame hamstring while rounding 1st after his double. They added another in the 4th when Martinez singled, Moreland grounded into a fielder’s choice, Nunez doubled and Devers hit a sac fly, scoring Moreland.
J.D. Martinez jacked his 5th HR of the year in the 5th, driving in himself, Benintendi and Ramirez (who had both singled), making it 5-3 Boston.
Toronto added 1 in the 7th to make it interesting, but the Red Sox bullpen closed it out again and gave Boston the series win.
Chris Sale was unusually erratic, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits (2 HR) and 2 walks while only striking out 4 over 6 innings. Smith, Barnes and Kimbrel combined for 3 IP, with only Smith allowing a run.
Other notable performances include Benintendi, Ramirez (2 hits each), and Martinez (2 hits, 1 HR, 3 RBI).
-Brock Holt is now on a 9-game hit streak. When he’s healthy and gets consistent playing time, he can be one of the most important offensive tools for Boston.
-Mookie Betts is absolutely incredible, and although he’s being robbed of some RBI opportunities by batting leadoff, that’s his best spot.
-The base running mistakes of 2017 have seemed to carry over to 2018. Throughout this series, Andrew Benintendi was picked off at 2nd and also failed to score on what should have been a sac fly due to a mental lapse, and Eduardo Nunez was sent home from 2nd for some reason despite there being absolutely no chance he’d make it there in time.
-Although the Sox offense is still one of the best in the MLB, many of the bats have been pretty streaky so far. That’s expected from JBJ and Vazquez, but not from J.D. Martinez.
-Andrew Benintendi just still hasn’t found his swing yet. At the very beginning of the year, his low BA was being forgiven because he was being walked at a ridiculous rate. Now, though, the walks have dwindled, and the BA is still down in the low 2’s. It’s still early, but the season is starting to creep into that “it’s early but not that early” territory.
-With the Red Sox rolling early on this year, Craig Kimbrel hasn’t had many opportunities to pitch in high leverage situations yet. He had 3 such opportunities in this series, and after allowing a walk off home run in game 1, he bounced back for two perfect innings in games 2 and 3. That’s very encouraging to see.
-Lastly, it was important to take those last 2 games, if for nothing else but a boost of confidence after losing 3 straight for the first time.