Final, Blue Jays 9-7: Casey Janssen retires the side in order and the Blue Jays snap Boston’s five-game winning streak on a strange night in Toronto.
Starter Jon Lester again did not have his best stuff, allowing six runs on six hits and two walks over six innings, but he still found himself in line for the win after David Ortiz gave the Red Sox the lead with a three-run double in the seventh.
That lead evaporated in the bottom of the inning, though, when Edwin Encarnacion lofted a two-run homer — his second of the night — off Junichi Tazawa to give Toronto a 8-7 lead it would not relinquish. The Jays added another off Joel Hanrahan in the eighth to come away with a 9-7 win, preventing the Sox from claiming their team-record 19th win in April.
These two teams will be back at it Wednesday night, with Clay Buchholz scheduled to take on Mark Buehrle.
End 8th, Blue Jays 9-7: If John Farrell had any doubts about his decision to stick with Andrew Bailey as his closer, those are likely gone now.
In his first appearance since getting off the disabled list, Joel Hanrahan allowed a pair of singles and a run in one inning of work.
J.P. Arencibia led the inning off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Maicer Izturis and scored on a base hit hit up the middle by Colby Rasmus.
The Red Sox now face a two-run deficit in the ninth against Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen.
Mid 8th, Blue Jays 8-7: Darren Oliver may be old, but he can still be effective.
After walking Jarrod Saltalamacchia to open the eighth, the 42-year-old retired Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury in order.
Oliver has worked strictly out of the bullpen for the last eight seasons, but he spent much of the early part of his career as a starter. In fact, the last shutout he threw came during his brief stint in Boston, on April 30, 2002.
Joel Hanrahan has come out of the bullpen for the bottom of the inning, making his first appearance since April 13.
End 7th, Blue Jays 8-7: Edwin Encarnacion is not human.
The first baseman homered for the second time tonight off Junichi Tazawa in the seventh, bringing his total to seven homers in his last seven games.
Tazawa started the inning well, retiring Brett Lawrie and pinch hitter Adam Lind, but Jose Bautista managed to work a walk after falling behind 1-2. Encarnacion then did what he does best, and the Blue Jays snagged the lead back.
Melky Cabrera struck out to end the inning.
Former Red Sox lefty Darren Oliver will come on for Toronto in the eighth. Oliver has been around the majors for a long, long time, making his debut with the Rangers way back in 1993.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-6: If you don’t include getting picked off in the fifth, Jacoby Ellsbury has had the best night of any Red Sox batter. Well, at least until David Ortiz had his chance in the seventh.
Ellsbury singled for the second time in the seventh and has reached base in all four trips to the plate. He should have been the only baserunner of the inning, but new shortstop Munenori Kawasaki botched a textbook double-play opportunity, sailing his throw into right field to allow Ellsbury to advance to third.
Left-hander Steve Delabar then relieved Aaron Loup and walked Dustin Pedroia to load the bases for Ortiz.
Big Papi delivered, ripping a bases-clearing double to right field to put the Sox ahead for the first time tonight. Ortiz continues to tear the cover off the ball since returning from injury, and his 2-for-4, four-RBI performance so far tonight raises his average to .514 on the season. Despite playing fewer games than any position player on the active roster, Ortiz’ 15 RBIs rank third on the team.
Junichi Tazawa comes on to replace Jon Lester, who now has the opportunity to pick up his fifth win if the Sox can hold this one-run lead.
End 6th, Blue Jays 6-4: The Jays go down in order as Jon Lester follows up another rough inning with another spotless one.
With Lester at 100 pitches and the Red Sox bullpen having added another proven late-game arm in Joel Hanrahan earlier in the day, it’s hard to imagine the starter remaining in the game much longer, if at all.
Mid 6th, Blue Jays 6-4: And Jonny Gomes has now hit his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.
Pinch-hitting for Mike Carp, who homered his last time up, Gomes sent his sixth consecutive fastball from reliever Aaron Loup into the seats in left-center for Boston’s third home run of the night.
Loup was otherwise perfect in his first inning of work, though, and the Red Sox head into the bottom of the sixth still looking at a two-run deficit.
Gomes will take Carp’s place in left field.
End 5th, Blue Jays 6-3: Edwin Encarnacion taunted Jon Lester with a pair of long, deep fly outs earlier in the game, and he finally put one into the seats in the fifth.
Encarnacion demolished a Lester fastball, sending it into the upper deck in left field for a two-run homer. The first baseman has been freakishly hot lately, with six of his team-leading eight home runs coming in the Blue Jays’ last seven games.
Brandon Morrow’s outing is done, as right-hander Aaron Loup steps to the mound for the Jays in the sixth.
Mid 5th, Blue Jays 4-3: If the Red Sox used a sledgehammer to chip away at the Blue Jays’ lead in the fourth inning, they used a pickaxe in the fifth.
Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia all reached on singles through infield gaps, with Drew narrowly avoiding center fielder Colby Rasmus’ throw to the plate to score on Pedroia’s grounder up the middle.
The Sox had two runners on base with one out, but Brandon Morrow struck out David Ortiz for the second time tonight then picked off Ellsbury at second for the third out.
Rajai Davis, who has walked and been hit by a pitch tonight, will come up first for the Jays.
End 4th, Blue Jays 4-2: The Blue Jays still hold the edge on the scoreboard, but the momentum in this game definitely shifted Boston’s way in the fourth.
After cutting the lead in half with two homers in the top of the frame, Jon Lester employed a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to the mound to pick up his first 1-2-3 inning of the night.
Mid 4th, Blue Jays 4-2: What’s the best way to get back into the game when you’re stuck in a 4-0 hole? How about a couple of home runs?
The Red Sox cut Toronto’s lead in half with a pair of long balls in the fourth. David Ortiz got things started with a homer to right-center field on the inning’s second pitch. After Mike Napoli struck out, Mike Carp followed Papi’s lead, sending Brandon Morrow’s pitch into the same section of bleachers for his first home run in a Boston uniform.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia then drew a one-out walk, but third baseman Brett Lawrie made a brilliant play to start a 5-4-3 double play and end the inning. Will Middlebrooks may have tweaked his ankle a bit trying to beat out the throw, but he comes back out for the top of the fifth.
End 3rd, Blue Jays 4-0: Jon Lester has been missing inside all night, and it finally cost him. The lefty hit Rajai Davis in the elbow with no outs before walking Jose Bautista on four pitches.
Lester was almost plunked himself one batter earlier, with a Brett Lawrie liner almost nailing him right in the face. He evaded physical harm, but the Blue Jays did a number on his pitching line.
With the bases loaded, Jarrod Saltalamacchia attempted to pick Bautista off at first, but his throw sailed far out of the reach of first baseman Mike Napoli and into right field, allowing two runs to score.
Edwin Encarnacion then launched another fly ball deep to center, easily allowing Bautista to tag up and reach third with one out. Dustin Pedroia held him there on a ground ball with the infield in, but J.P. Arencibia followed with an RBI double down the third-base line, scoring the Jays’ fourth run of the night.
Maicer Izturis lofted a weak fly ball to Pedroia to end the inning, but the Sox now find themselves in a deep hole.
Mid 3rd, Blue Jays 1-0: Jacoby Ellsbury picked up his second walk of the night, but that was it for the Sox in the third.
Stephen Drew opened the inning with a grounder to first, and after Ellsbury’s free pass, Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia both flew out to left and right field, respectively.
The Red Sox have just one hit so far tonight — an infield single by Pedroia in the first.
The Jays will send the top of their order to the plate in the bottom of the third.
End 2nd, Blue Jays 1-0: Jon Lester was nearly able to complete a 1-2-3 inning thanks to a sliding stop by Dustin Pedroia, but Pedroia was unable to recover in time to make the difficult throw to nab Colby Rasmus at first.
Lester struck out No. 9 hitter Emilio Bonifacio looking, though, to retire the side. Boston’s No. 9 hitter, Stephen Drew, will come to the plate first in the top of the third.
Mid 2nd, Blue Jays 1-0: Brandon Morrow is missing a lot of bats tonight.
After a 27-pitch effort to open the game, the right-hander needed just 11 pitches to strike out Mike Carp, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks in order in the second. That runs his strikeout total to five on the night, all coming in a row.
Morrow — not to be confused with Penguins winger Brenden Morrow — hasn’t had much success this season, with the Blue Jays dropping each of his last four starts. He did pitch well his last time out against the Red Sox, though, allowing four hits and a walk over six scoreless innings back on Sept. 16.
End 1st, Blue Jays 1-0: One thing this Jays team can do is crush the ball, and Jose Bautista showed off that power in the first.
The two-time Silver Slugger’s deep fly ball didn’t quite leave the yard, but it hit halfway up the center-field wall, allowing the speedy Rajai Davis, who had walked, to score easily from second.
Edwin Encarnacion appeared to give Jon Lester a ride again in the next at-bat, but his fly ball did not have enough gas, enabling Jacoby Ellsbury to settle under it for the inning’s second out.
Lester then struck out Melky Cabrera to end the inning, but he — like Morrow — threw more pitches (21) than he would have liked in the first. Though he still holds the lowest walk total (11) of any of the Red Sox’ full-time starters, he struggled with control his last time out, walking six Oakland A’s in 5 2/3 innings last Wednesday.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox put two runners on in the first, but Brandon Morrow employed a pair of strikeouts to escape the innings unscathed — though the last K didn’t come easily.
Jacoby Ellsbury drew a six-pitch walk to open the game, with Daniel Nava following with a deep fly out to center.
Dustin Pedroia then stretched his hit streak to seven games when third baseman Brett Lawrie’s attempt to barehand a soft ground ball was unsuccessful, allowing Pedroia to reach first.
Morrow got David Ortiz to chase a curveball in the dirt for the inning’s second out and — after five foul balls on pitches in the zone — blew a fastball by Mike Napoli to close the frame. It was a 27-pitch inning for Morrow, who has yet to pick up a win this season.
Lawrie, Rajai Davis and Jose Bautista will be due up first against Jon Lester.
7:08 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury takes Brandon Morrow’s first pitch for ball one and we are under way from the cavernous Rogers Centre.
6:30 p.m.: A win tonight would give the Red Sox their 19th win this month, thus making it most successful April in team history.
Arguably their most dominant performance this season came at the end of their last visit to Toronto, when Will Middlebrooks launched a season-high three home runs in a 13-0 rout of the Jays.
After that 4-for-5, four-RBI performance, though, Middlebrooks’ offensive output took a nosedive. He proceeded to hit .092 (5-for-54) over his next 14 games and had tremendous trouble putting the ball in play, striking out 20 times.
He seemed to finally shake that slump last week, going 6-for-15 with two doubles, a homer and three runs scored in four games against Houston, but this series will prove whether he is truly back to form or merely benefited from a set against the league’s worst team.
5:10 p.m.: The lineup you will see from the Red Sox tonight at the Venue Formerly Known as the SkyDome will be a familiar one, as manager John Farrell will trot out the same starting nine for the third straight game. That may not seem like anything too groundbreaking, but its the first time all season that Farrell has stuck with the same lineup and batting order three times in a row.
And with the success this order has had over the past week, nobody can blame the skipper for not changing a good thing. In the last four games — albeit against the miserable Astros — the Sox have scored 28 runs, and they currently rank in the top five in the majors in runs (128), team batting average (.272), on-base percentage (.347) and slugging percentage (.442).
The Blue Jays’ offense, conversely, has been arguably the worst in the AL East and will be without All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list, until at least mid-June.
There will be a small but significant change in Boston pitching ranks, though, as the team sent Daniel Bard back down to Double-A and activated Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan had served as the Red Sox’ closer before going down with a hamstring injury, but John Farrell told the media Tuesday that he is sticking with Andrew Bailey in the closer’s role for the time being.
Bailey has converted five of six save opportunities this season — he earned the win in the one game he blew — and he carries a 1.46 ERA into tonight.
Here are the full starting lineups for tonight’s game:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Jon Lester, RHP
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Rajai Davis, DH
Jose Bautista, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
Melky Cabrera, LF
J.P. Arencibia, C
Maicer Izturis, SS
Colby Rasmus, CF
Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
Brandon Morrow, RHP
8 a.m. ET: Don’t look now, but 25 games into the 2013 season, the 18-7 Boston Red Sox are the best team in baseball.
After going a combined 3-3 in two series with the Royals and A’s, the Sox ripped off four straight wins against the lowly Astros — outscoring Houston 28-10 — and come out of Monday’s off day on their second five-game winning streak of the season.
They’ll look to extend that streak north of the border, where they kick off their second series of the year against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Tuesday. Jon Lester will take the mound for Boston in search of his fifth win in six starts. He’ll be matched by Toronto’s Brandon Morrow, who is 0-2 with a 5.27 ERA in five starts this year.
This division tilt will be as crucial as an early-season series can be for the Jays, who come in with the second-worst record in the American League (9-17, last in AL East) after a big-spending offseason had many penciling them in as division favorites.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m., with coverage getting started at 6 p.m. on NESN, but be sure to check back here throughout the day for up-to-the-minute updates.