Red Sox-Blue Jays Live: Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks Go Deep As Sox Take Down Jays 6-4

Jarrod SaltalamacchiaFinal, Red Sox 6-4: Joel Hanrahan walked a batter to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but he then closed the door to give the Red Sox a 6-4 win.

The victory is surely extra sweet for manager John Farrell, who was booed relentlessly throughout the game by the Toronto crowd.

The Red Sox had chances to put the game away, but they let the Blue Jays hang around, and it almost cost them. Jose Reyes’ home run in the seventh inning tied the game 4-4, but the Sox scored a run in both the eighth inning and the ninth inning in order to secure the victory.

The Red Sox were 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position.

Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks went deep on Friday. Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino and Pedro Ciriaco each had two hits as part of Boston’s 12-hit attack.

Felix Doubront pitched five innings to start the game for Boston. He allowed three runs on nine hits while striking out six. Junichi Tazawa, who surrendered the seventh-inning blast, earned the win.

One thing to monitor after this game is the status of shortstop Jose Iglesias. Iglesias was hit in his throwing elbow by a pitch in the second inning, and he was later replaced by Ciriaco.

The Red Sox and Blue Jays will play day baseball on Saturday. John Lackey will get his much-anticipated first start. The game’s first pitch will be delivered at 1:07 p.m. ET, and NESN’s coverage will begin at 12 p.m. ET. I hope to see you then.

Good night, everyone.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 6-4: Joel Hanrahan will work the ninth inning with the benefit of a little extra cushion, although it could have been more.

Will Middlebrooks began the ninth by turning on a fastball from the new pitcher, Jeremy Jeffress, and driving it over the fence in left field. The home run is Middlebrooks’ first of the season.

It’s very encouraging to see both Napoli and Middlebrooks — two guys the Red Sox need some power from — go deep in this game.

The Red Sox would then threaten to extend the lead even further, but once again, they were unable to come up with a big hit with runners in scoring position.

Jackie Bradley Jr. walked, and then stole second base with Pedro Ciriaco at the plate. Ciriaco eventually grounded to second baseman Emilio Bonifacio, whose disastrous night continued. Bonifacio bobbled the ground ball and Ciriaco was able to reach. It was the third error of the evening for Mr. Bonifacio.

Bonifacio made up for it somewhat moments later, though. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground ball to the second baseman with the infield pulled in, and Bonifacio fired home to nail Jackie Bradley Jr., who was off on contact.

Jonny Gomes, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, came up and worked his second walk of the game. Prior to the free pass, Ciriaco and Ellsbury executed a double steal.

The Red Sox’ bid to tack on more runs came up short, though, as Dustin Pedroia lined out to left field to end the inning.

End 8th, Red Sox 5-4: Andrew Bailey got himself into some trouble, but as good pitchers do, he got himself out of it.

Bailey started the eighth inning off on a positive note, striking out J.P. Arencibia while touching 97 mph with his fastball.

Bailey didn’t fare so well against the next two hitters, though.

Rajai Davis lined a ball into the left-center field gap. Davis was initially thinking three, but he put on the breaks with a stand-up double. Colby Rasmus — the potential go-ahead run — walked to put two on with one out.

Bailey bounced back from there, getting both Adam Lind and Maicer Izturis to fly out to center. Davis actually tagged up and went to third on Lind’s fly out, meaning the tying run was 90 feet away, but Bailey really buckled down when he had to.

Joel Hanrahan is up in the Boston ‘pen. He’ll presumably pitch the ninth, but the Red Sox would certainly like to give him a little extra cushion.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-4: The Red Sox turned to Jonny Gomes as a pinch hitter in the eighth, and the move paid off.

Jacoby Ellsbury struck out against Brett Cecil to begin the inning, and manager John Farrell then turned to Gomes. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons countered with right-hander Esmil Rogers, and Gomes would eventually win the battle.

Gomes worked a five-pitch walk before Dustin Pedroia planted a double off the center-field wall. Gomes was unable to score, but it set up second and third for Mike Napoli.

Napoli drilled a ground ball down to third. Maicer Izturis made the play, although he stumbled a bit before getting Napoli just in time at first. Gomes, who was off from third base on contact, scored, and the Red Sox have regained the lead.

We’ll now get to see if the Andrew Bailey-Joel Hanrahan duo can close this game out. Bailey will come on to pitch the eighth inning.

End 7th, 4-4: Jose Reyes has been a hassle for Red Sox pitchers in this game.

Reyes took advantage of a fastball left out over the plate by Junichi Tazawa in the seventh. He jacked it into the seats in right field, and we have ourselves a tie ballgame.

Reyes is 4-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and two RBIs. The home run is his first as a member of the Blue Jays.

A home run off Tazawa is a rare right. The right-hander surrendered just one blast in 44 innings last season.

The Jays actually threatened to capture the lead in the seventh, as Melky Cabrera smoked a two-out triple into the alley way in right-center field. Fortunately for Boston, Tazawa bounced back to get Edwin Encarnacion via a fly out to center.

The Red Sox will send up the top of the order in the eighth inning.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Brett Cecil started weak, but finished strong.

Cecil walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia to begin the seventh inning, and Will Middlebrooks followed up with a double to make it second and third with no outs.

At that point, it was all about playing damage control, but Cecil had other plans.

Cecil struck out Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Pedro Ciriaco in order to keep the Red Sox from adding to their lead.

Victorino went down swinging on a slider in the dirt. Bradley was victimized by a high-and-tight fastball, which followed a mediocre changeup that Bradley fouled off with the count 1-2. Cecil then threw three straight offspeed pitches to Ciriaco in order to pick up the inning-ending K.

Junichi Tazawa will pitch the seventh for Boston.

End 6th, Red Sox 4-3: Koji Uehara came to the rescue in the sixth.

J.P. Arencibia led off the inning with a double, which knocked starter Felix Doubront from the game. Uehara, whose impressive spring seems to be carrying over into the regular season, retired the next three hitters.

Uehara struck out both Rajai Davis and Colby Rasmus before the Blue Jays turned to a pinch hitter. Adam Lind came up for Mark DeRosa, who actually went deep earlier in the game, and Lind subsequently flew out to end the inning.

Uehara was very fired up after getting Lind to fly out. He emphatically slapped the hands of everyone in the Red Sox’ dugout.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 4-3: The Red Sox put a couple of runners on in the sixth inning, but Josh Johnson managed to keep this a one-run game.

Pedro Ciriaco started the inning with a double up over the head of center fielder Colby Rasmus. Ciriaco now has a hit in each of his first two at-bats of the season.

Jacoby Ellsbury struck out, and Daniel Nava popped out. Johnson then intentionally walked Dustin Pedroia, which brought up Mike Napoli, who homered back in the fifth.

Napoli worked the count full, but Johnson threw a knee-buckling curveball in order to pick up an inning-ending strikeout.

End 5th, Red Sox 4-3: The Blue Jays scored two runs in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to one, but the Red Sox actually caught a huge break.

Mark DeRosa — clearly not impressed by Mike Napoli’s home run during the previous half inning — led off with a blast of his own. The ball hit the top of the wall and sailed over.

Felix Doubront really got shaky from there.

After Maicer Izturis singled into center field, Jose Reyes ripped a ball down into the left-field corner, and Jackie Bradley Jr. had trouble handling it. The bobble allowed Izturis to come all the way around with Toronto’s third run, but Bradley’s throw went to third base and Reyes was tagged for the inning’s first out.

That was a HUGE out, as Reyes would have been just 90 feet away with the potential tying run.

Emilio Bonifacio tried to get the offense back to work with a single into center, but Doubront bounced back to retire Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion.

We’ll have to keep an eye on Reyes going forward. He looked a bit shaken up after being tagged out at third.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 4-1: There it is! After some struggles through the first few games, Mike Napoli has his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.

Napoli’s blast was of the two-run variety, as Dustin Pedroia singled up the middle to lead off the inning. Josh Johnson’s fastball stayed up a little bit too much, and Napoli went to the opposite field to extend Boston’s lead.

The home run is also the Red Sox’ first of the season.

Shane Victorino would add a single later in the inning, but it wouldn’t result in any damage. Emilio Bonifacio, whose defense was a train wreck earlier in the game, made a nice, diving play to end the inning.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Felix Doubront put together a very nice inning in the fourth.

Rajai Davis’ ground out was sandwiched by strikeouts against J.P. Arencibia and Colby Rasmus.

Arencibia went down swinging on a fastball, while Rasmus couldn’t handle a changeup down and out of the zone.

Doubront now has five K’s through four innings.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Pedro Ciriaco made his first at-bat of the season count, but the Red Sox can really thank the fourth-inning Bonifiasco — as the RemDawg put it — for getting back on top.

Blue Jays second baseman Emilio Bonifacio had a very rough frame. First, his throw to first base on Shane Victorino’s ground ball brought Mark DeRosa off the bag, allowing Victorino to reach. Then, as if that miscue wasn’t enough, Bonifacio couldn’t handle Jackie Bradley Jr.’s ground ball, setting up runners at first and second with one out.

Ciriaco pinch hit for Jose Iglesias, who went back down into the clubhouse between innings. Something clearly wasn’t right with Iglesias’ arm after he got hit in the elbow in the second inning.

Ciriaco’s first at-bat ended with him driving in the go-ahead run on a single to left.

Jacoby Ellsbury popped out to Bonifacio — mock cheers, anyone? — and Daniel Nava lined out to Rajai Davis in right field to end the inning.

End 3rd, 1-1: Jose Iglesias might be hurting, but it isn’t hindering his defense.

Jose Reyes singled to lead off the third inning, and two batters later, Melky Cabrera bounced one into the hole at short with one out. Iglesias ranged a long way over to make the play, and he somehow managed to get enough on his throw to nail the speedy Reyes for a force out.

It was a tremendous play by Iglesias, and it’s even more amazing considering the pain he’s clearly in after taking a pitch off the elbow. Iglesias ran back to his position with his arm pretty much motionless by his side after the out. How he got enough on the throw is beyond me.

Felix Doubront froze Edwin Encarnacion with a 3-2 fastball to end the inning.

Mid 3rd, 1-1: Exactly what the doctored ordered for the Blue Jays.

Josh Johnson came out and breezed through the Boston order in the third inning.

Johnson retired Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in order.

End 2nd, 1-1: The Jays responded in the second by putting up a run of their own.

The speedy Rajai Davis hit a one-out single into left field. He would advance to third when Colby Rasmus doubled over Mike Napoli’s head down the right-field line.

Mark DeRosa then hit a looping fly ball into foul territory in right. Shane Victorino showed tremendous range to track it down, but he sailed his throw to the plate, and Davis was able to score Toronto’s first run.

Maicer Izturis grounded back to Felix Doubront to end the inning.

7:46 p.m.: Jose Iglesias still looks shaken up out there at short. He keeps grimacing and is favoring his arm, so we’ll see if he stays in this one. It might be time to get Pedro Ciriaco some game action for the first time this season.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox benefited from four baserunners in the inning, and they’ve jumped on top.

Will Middlebrooks popped out to begin the inning, but Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up back-to-back singles to get the offense going.

Jose Iglesias was then hit in the elbow by a pitch, which brought manager John Farrell out of the dugout to check on his shortstop. Farrell was greeted by boos the second he stepped onto the field.

After a brief delay, Iglesias stayed in the game, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed up with a base hit into left field that scored Victorino for the game’s first run.

The Sox could have had more, but Daniel Nava grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

We’ll keep an eye on Iglesias going forward, but he doesn’t look comfortable after taking that pitch to his throwing elbow.

End 1st, 0-0: We already witnessed Josh Johnson get out of a jam. Now, Felix Doubront has an escape to his credit.

Jose Reyes kicked off the inning by lining a double into the left-center field gap. At first, it looked like Reyes might end up with a three-bagger, but the Red Sox got it back into the infield relatively quickly.

Reyes moved up to third base on a wild pitch from Doubront, and he would subsequently make life very difficult for Will Middlebrooks.

Melky Cabrera hit a ground ball to third with one out. Middlebrooks made the play, but Reyes started dancing around between third and home, causing plenty of confusion for the Boston third baseman. Middlebrooks eventually opted to try and tag Reyes out, but Reyes managed to dive back into third safely, meaning the Red Sox didn’t record an out on the play. It was a poor decision by Middlebrooks, but I can’t fault him too much, as Reyes was really toying with him.

Fortunately for the Sox, the play wouldn’t come back to hurt them. Edwin Encarnacion grounded into a 5-4-3 double play with runners at the corners. Middlebrooks bobbled the ground ball initially, but he recovered in time to begin the twin killing.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Josh Johnson had trouble locating his fastball early on, but he settled down to get three straight outs to get out of a jam.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a walk. Johnson really tried to pound the outside corner with his four-seam fastball, but he kept missing.

Daniel Nava, who reached base safely three times in his season debut on Wednesday, smacked the third pitch he saw back up the middle and into center field for a base hit. That put runners at first and second with no outs.

Dustin Pedroia was the first to be retired. He reached out and poked a slider to right field that Rajai Davis hauled in. Ellsbury tagged up and went to third, setting up runners at the corners.

Johnson then picked up back-to-back strikeouts against Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to escape the trouble he pitched himself into. Napoli struck out swinging on a fastball, while Saltalamacchia fanned on a curveball.

7:09 p.m.: Josh Johnson’s first pitch is a strike, and we’re under way.

7:06 p.m.: John Farrell gave the hostile crowd a straight-faced tip of the cap while returning to the dugout. Hilarious.

7:05 p.m.: Wow. The hatred for John Farrell at Rogers Centre is incredible. I mean, obviously the fans dislike how he left the organization, but this is Rocky IV-esque.

6:40 p.m.: On the injury front, Stephen Drew is scheduled to play seven innings at shortstop for Double-A Portland on Friday. He’ll stay with Portland throughout the weekend, and there’s still a chance he could be ready for the Red Sox’ home opener on Monday.

David Ortiz, who went through running drills in Fort Myers, is still expected to play in an extended spring training game on Monday.

6:35 p.m.: Red Sox manager John Farrell is likely to get a less-than-flattering ovation from the Toronto fans on Thursday, although he doesn’t seem too concerned about it.

The Blue Jays had high expectations with Farrell as their manager, and they failed to reach them, which put the skipper in some hot water. Then, when Farrell left for Boston to take on what he called his “dream job,” the hatred north of the border really started to pick up.

One person, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, labeled Farrell a “scoundrel,” while another compared his exit to the well-documented departure of former Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter.

Farrell doesn’t seem too shaken up by the criticism he’ll receive in Toronto, though. He’s heard it before, and he’s instead focused on getting the Red Sox back on track after Thursday’s loss to the Yankees.

Farrell did say that a number of people in Toronto welcomed him back on Friday. So apparently, not everyone in Canada hates him.

Click here to read about Blue Jays fans’ hatred >>

Click here to read Farrell’s comments >>

5 p.m.: You may have noticed that Jose Bautista is not in Toronto’s lineup. Bautista left Thursday’s game against the Indians after twisting his ankle.

The initial diagnosis was that Bautista is fine, and that the ankle won’t be an issue going forward. Jays manager John Gibbons said Thursday, though, that the slugger’s ankle was still a bit tender, and therefore he decided to give Bautista the night off.

Gibbons expects Bautista to be in the lineup as the Blue Jays’ DH on Friday.

4:56 p.m.: It’s becoming increasingly clear that manager John Farrell is willing to see how a Jonny Gomes-Daniel Nava DH platoon works in David Ortiz’s absence. With a right-hander on the hill in Josh Johnson on Friday, Farrell will turn to Nava.

Nava got the start in the second game of the Red Sox’ series against the Yankees on Wednesday night. He went 2-for-3 with a double, RBI, walk, and was hit by a pitch in Boston’s 7-4 win. On Thursday, he’ll once again bat second, with Shane Victorino moving down to seventh.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be back behind the plate to catch Felix Doubront. He’ll bat fifth.

The rest of Friday night’s lineups are below.

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, DH
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia,
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Shane Victorino, RF
Jackie Bradley Jr., LF
Jose Iglesias, SS

Felix Doubront, P

Blue Jays
Jose Reyes, SS
Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
Melky Cabrera, LF
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
J.P. Arencibia, C
Rajai Davis, RF
Colby Rasmus, CF
Mark DeRosa, 1B
Maicer Izturis, 3B

Josh Johnson, P

8 a.m. ET: Now, let’s see how the Red Sox respond after a loss.

Good teams bounce back and thrive in the face of adversity, and after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Yankees on Thursday, the Sox will be tested for the first time on Friday. Making life more difficult, however, is the fact that they’ll be going up against the talent-laden Blue Jays in Toronto.

Felix Doubront will get the start, and the hope is that he can start off this season on a positive note, much like he did in 2012, when he went 5-2 through the first two months. Doubront will be opposed by Josh Johnson, a very talented 29-year-old who has had trouble staying healthy.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of reception Red Sox manager John Farrell gets on Friday night. He, of course, left his post in Toronto to become Boston’s skipper this past offseason. Considering Farrell’s lack of success north of the border, it’s safe to say the boo birds will be out in full effect.

Friday’s game will start up at 7:05 p.m. ET, and all of the action can be found on NESN. NESN’s pregame coverage will kick off at 6 p.m. with Red Sox First Pitch. Be sure to tune in, but also be sure to stop back here for additional commentary and analysis.

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